Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soap Operas and Novels - Strange Bed Fellows

I'm  addicted to General Hospital...have been for years.  Watched it from the beginning have suffered the loss of the original cast and enjoyed the addition of new.  One thing that strikes me is the similarity between watching a continuing saga and reading one.  Ever consider how much the writing plays into whether or not you continue to tune in?

I know how difficult it is to write a novel, but I have no idea the stress TV writers must endure in order to keep the plot moving, the interest growing, and coming up with hooks that make you either record the next episode or put aside your daily duties to tune in. I want their secrets.  *laugh*

Each Friday's soap opera episode is a most critical time for a so-called 'cliffhanger'.  Watchers have two whole days to get distracted from the daily routine or mull over what the outcome will be. Soap writers want them to mull, but such is the chore of a author with their novels.  We are charged with having a beginning to our books that HOOK the interest of the reader and make them want to keep turning pages.

I can't count how many times I've heard readers express what they do with a book that bores them from the beginning, and I'm not talking about mine. *smile*  If you don't grab and hold a reader's interest, you've not enhanced the chances they'll even finish what they started.  If I've learned one thing in my years of turning out novels, it's to start each story with a scene that snags interest in the plot and main character(s).

Equally important, ending each chapter with enough intrigue that the reader who reads at night won't want to stop or can't wait to pick the book up the next morning.  Exactly what Soap Opera writer's want to happen.  For me, it's hard enough to decide where to end a chapter, let alone end with  a scene that's a page turner, but it's critical.  Imagine ending a chapter with your heroine being home alone and hearing the creaking of an opening door.  Will the reader stop there, or will he/she be tempted to read on and see what is going to happen?  My bet is that won't be a stopping place.

I'd like to share the opening scene from my "best seller," First Degree Innocence.  See if it hooks you:

“Okay, Lang, strip!” The guard’s bark made Carrie’s stomach roil. She cowered in the corner of the women’s processing area, shivering under the blast of cold air from the ceiling vent.

“I said strip! Don’t make me have to tell you again.” The pudgy, uniformed female slapped a baton against her palm in a constant rhythm. In the empty room, the sound bounced off the depressing gray cement walls and echoed in Carrie’s head. She forced herself to take a faltering step out of her shoes. Her frigid fingers fumbled with the buttons as she struggled to remove her favorite pink cotton blouse. She unfastened her jeans and let them drop to the floor, then gazed through bleary eyes at the other woman, praying she didn't require the removal of anything more.

If this stirred your interest, you can find out more about this novel at Books We Love.  Beginning this month, BWL has expanded availability from the Amazon KDP program to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, the Reader's Store and All Romance Ebooks.

Let me know your thoughts.  Comments might just motivate me to finish my current WIP which has been sidelined by life issues. I already have a beautiful cover and have made great progress, just need to get myself back on the writer's road.  I'd love to interview a soap opera writer....if you know one, let me know.  *smile*   First thing I'd want to ask is why in the heck did they let Jason go!  I'm heartbroken.  :)

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