Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cliffhangers as Chapter Endings, Good or Bad?

Authors often employ different writing techniques to make his or her readers eager to turn to the next page in their book. A cliffhanger at the end of a chapter is one method that authors make use of—to keep their readers engaged in their story’s plot and characters—forcing them to turn pages. We refer to these types of novels as page-turners.

Would you be surprised if I told you that this writing practice was popular during the age of Queen Victoria? One of the progressive ideas to come from this age sprang between a monthly magazine and an author. Short story author like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, you ask. No, I am talking about a completed novel not stand alone short stories. The magazine published sections of a novel one chapter at a time. Thomas Hardy is given credit for being the first to add a cliffhanger to the end of each of his published chapters. You see he needed a gimmick to keep his readers wanting more, thus ensuring a monthly paycheck from his publisher. Hey, that’s something that we all want; only now we call it royalties.

The question that I’m asking today is do you use cliffhangers in your own manuscripts/books and if so, are they found at the end of each chapter?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What can I say? I’ve been busy these past few months. I’m back!

The big dog roundup: Some of you know that for years I’ve been helping take care of and adopt out abandoned animals. No one pays me for this and I’ve lost thousands of dollars in caring for, feeding and occasionally paying medical bills. My personal motto is that I’ll never let an animal starve or be in need of medical care.

Two months ago, I discovered a few puppies running around near my barn. I left food and water for them. By the end of the week, I had ten puppies eager to please me. Two weeks later, I had seventeen puppies running around and eating (from two litters). I already had six six-month old dogs from a litter of eight. Add to this menagerie, my own two dogs; and I was feeding twenty-five animals. Yikes! Enter and angle into my life.

The local Chappell Nebraska Animal Control Officer, Terry, called me one day and asked how I was doing. I related my tale of woe and she promised to think about a solution. A week later, she called back with a plan to adopt all of the dogs out. Through her contacts, she found a place in Wyoming willing to take on all of the puppies and six-month old dogs. She brought over material to build a large enclosure with a gate. I set up their food bowls and water inside along with several cages. It took two weeks to capture all of the larger dogs and another day to pick up fifteen of the puppies. I brought them all to Terry’s house and placed them in her cages. The puppies were immediately taken to Scottsbluff Nebraska and last week Terry called and informed me that all of them were adopted out.

The older dogs are being spaded and neutered, given shots and wormed. Several of them have loving homes and one of them is learning how to heard sheep. I couldn’t be happier. The other benefit is that all four of my dogs are going to be spaded and neutered, shots…isn’t life grand.

Class is in session: I’ve always wanted to take an accredited course in reading, writing ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs. I signed up for a free course on the internet. This takes me about two or three hours each day and I spend another two-three hours writing the ending of my second book.

During this time, I’ve neglected my blog and now that I am working on time management (and have only a few dogs to tend to); I find that I can once again write a blog-post twice a week.

It’s nice to be back.