Sunday, March 28, 2010

Barking at a Bag

This morning when I was walking Rascal, it was still pretty dark, compliments of Daily Savings Time. We turned the corner, she looked and started barking. I saw nothing scary, only a white trash bag, with its top blowing in the wind.

Apparently, since her eyes are not as good as mine (I have the advantage of glasses), what she saw looked menacing.

It was around 6:15 a.m. and not a good idea for a dog to be barking loudly and waking people up on a Sunday morning, so I brought her up to the bag so she could see it was nothing to be afraid of. Once she got close, she calmed down and stopped barking.

We can do something similar in a manuscript, but not be as kind to our readers as I was with Rascal. Present a problem to our characters. Let them get worried about a hopeless situation, then make it even worse. When it all seems hopeless, somehow make everything okay - that is, unless you don't want it to be.

The ending is up to you. Maybe you want something horrible that won't go away inside that bag. Thank goodness, that wasn't the case this morning with Rascal.

What scary things have you presented to your readers in one of your manuscripts? Or, maybe you particularly liked what someone else did. You don't have to tell us the ending. Let us be scared and read to find out if it will all be okay.


  1. Keeping your reader worried, or in suspense, is a cardinal rule of mystery writing. I recall a passage in one of Phyllis Whitney's novels that has stayed with me for years. Her protagonist was making her way down a dark narrow passageway, with hands on both walls when she felt someone's face.


  2. This gave me a laugh and several thoughts, like the film Old Dogs...lots of fun. Thanks Morgan

  3. Rascal sounds too adorable. Great post.

  4. In Book III of my series, the MC finds out his girlfriend (with uber-conservative and protective parents) is pregnant. This is also right after he's been in a car accident. So I dumped a lot of worry on him at once! It was kinda fun... (And yes, it all worked out in the end.)

    Rascal and my dorky cats would get along just fine. They get spooked by a piece of paper lying in the middle of the floor!

  5. I like the books were something bad happens, then the tension builds, then you're given a little break, then it builds some more and then more, then a release, then it builds....and so on until the climax.

    Incidentally, today, I gave you the Happy 101 Award.

    Straight From Hel

  6. Just another reason I don't own a dog. I don't do anything well at six in the morning, never mind having the energy to walk the dog.

    In my current WIP, Amelia, an orphan girl who is now living with her spinister aunt, has just learned that she is being sent away to Wheaton Female Seminary for schooling. She's upset and scared. I'm sure things are going to get worse before they get better.



Your Comment Is Welcome