You’ve seen it, and if you haven’t yet, you’re missing out. Ninja Warrior, known in Japan as Sasuke may seem like a silly addiction, but can teach us the power of suspense, the necessity of kinetic movement, and the ingenuity of devising creatively dangerous and suspenseful situations, not just for our characters but ultimately for our readers. If Japan’s export, Sasuke, aired on G4, teaches us anything, we should note the imperative to make our readers run, jump, grip, straddle, and pant.
So how do we build suspense and heighten conflict? How much exposition is just enough to give readers a foothold? Where should we carve out niches for readers to grasp, how can we leave them hanging with bated breath, and when do we make them leap in dizzying faith? “Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information.” Recently featured in The New Yorker’s Life and Letters “The Background Hum” by Daniel Zalewski, Ian McEwan urges writers to “incite a naked hunger in readers.”
For our first “Feast of Words” event, we invite you to examine your own naked hunger. Read Ann Cummins story, “Animus”, from Swink (2007) and post responses in comments section below by May 30, 2009.
Note in your comments:
1. How does Cummins challenge our mental and imaginary agility?
2. What breadcrumbs of clues does she leave for readers to propel us forward?
3. Where are the moments that build suspense and how do they raise our expectations?
4. Your own thoughts and reactions to the story?
By August 1, 2009 post your own working scenes and/or paragraphs inspired by Cummins and our online discussions. Include notes on your process, explain what your goals were, and how the process worked or didn’t work for you. Be sure to respond to at least one other guest or members’ work.
Our aim is to stimulate creative discussion and therefore ignite the fire to your own literary projects. We look forward to sharing this Feast of Words with you and hearing your thoughts and responses to text and discussion.