Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dangling The Carrot

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of the TV show, "NCIS." In addition to great acting and characterization, I believe the show's biggest plus is that they know how to hook you. One minute into the show, they've set up the mystery and you've gotta know whodunit and why. They end most of their scenes this way, and by the time they go to commercials, you'll follow that big ol' dangling carrot right through to the end. Watch the first couple minutes of any of their episodes, if you don't believe me.

Writers, take note. This is homework. The setup of their scenes and shows overall is a perfect example of what we need to do as writers. It's what editors mean when they say "end on a hook." Each scene, if possible, and each chapter for certain, needs to end on a moment that's sure to pull your reader along through the pages into the wee hours of the morning. The reader has to need to know What Happens Next. Even the end of your book should do that, if it's part of a series. Give that reader a reason to snap up all of your books!

So go watch some television. If anyone gives you guff about it, tell them I said so and it's work. (Real tough, staring at Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly.)

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