The Coming Storm

November 5, 2009 at 7:16 am (Thoughts on Writing) (, , )


While this may not seem writing related at first, I have a point.  I’m sure of it.  Somewhere down the page the point will emerge from all of this victorious.

I live in Australia.  More importantly I live in Queensland. We don’t have a lot of rain but where it rains here, it really rains.  All day to day there has been a storm building in the air.  I can feel it. Not in my bones, I’m not quite that old yet, but every part of me has been screaming that there is a storm approaching.

The first is the wave of nauseating heat and humidity that knocks you over at six in the morning.  This is followed by walking out under an absolutely clear sky with the golden circle of the sun radiating heat towards you.  As you sit in the early morning traffic-jam you wonder if you should have the air-con on in the can and then you realise that eventually you have to get out of the car and you will positively wilt if you’ve been sitting in a cool car.

Once I get to work my hair grabs the humid air and frizzes into all manner of contorted shapes.  None of them resembled well styled, or even brushed, hair.  There is a storm coming.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone can feel it.

By the time the dark clouds begin rolling in, the storm is old news.  Everyone has already resigned themselves to closing the house up tight, even though it is still ridiculously hot.  The first rumble of thunder rolls over and it is an almost welcome release from the day long anticipation.  And then…  Nothing.

The clouds hang.  The humidity stays.  The sweat continues to roll down your face.  The cat lies against the window pushing her fur against the cool glass.  And nothing happens.

Maybe tonight we’ll get the storm, maybe not, but I know I’m feeling let down.

Now comes my leap back to linking with writing.

There is nothing worse than reading a book that builds and builds and builds and then realising that there is nothing coming.  As a reader it leaves you unsatisfied and even annoyed that you wasted all that time committing to caring about the characters.  This is true even when you know there is a sequel coming.  If the book doesn’t contain something that gives the reader that moment of deep satisfaction then odds are, they aren’t going to read it again and they certainly won’t recommend it to others.

Tension is good. Building anticipation is great.  Leaving it totally unrealised and hanging at the close of the book = not a fantastic idea.

Let me know what you think.

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5 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    I completely agree with you. I think it’s okay to let tension and anticipation build in the main plot over the course of the novel, but the reader needs satisfaction by *something*–even if it’s the resolution of one or two subplots.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

    • cassandrajade said,

      Yes, even if the sequel will resolve the main issue, something has to finish at the end of a book. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Andrew said,

    I definitely agree with you here. The reader needs to feel satisfied by the ending, unless you’re deliberately writing a cliffhanger. And cliffhangers work much better in TV shows than novels, at least in my opinion. If the reader walks away from your book feeling unsatisfied, not only will they not recommend your book, but they may not read anything you write in the future.

    If you get a chance, I highly recommend a podcast called :”Writing Excuses.” Each segment is only 15 minutes long, and just the other day I was listening to the one they did about ending your book:

    http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/04/26/we-talk-about-how-not-to-end-books-with-the-goal-of-helping-you-fix-them/

    Mostly, it’s about being sure to keep the promises you make to the reader.

    On a side note, was interested to see that you’re in Queensland. I just visited there a few weeks ago (specifically, Brisbane, Cairns, and the Tablelands), and loved it. It’s a beautiful country y’all have down there! Hopefully I’ll make it back some day.

    Good luck with your writing!

    • cassandrajade said,

      Thanks for the link – I will defintely check it out.

  3. Kirby-Jane Ross said,

    I think it is brilliant, the anticipation for the storm to come, the expression you use by calling your hair a tangled frizz, as an aspiring author, it is an inspiration to read such brilliant work

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