Cliffhangers: A wrench in the works

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Hi! Great to see you! How’s your scene coming? Was it fun, writing it? Today, we talk about throwing a wrench in the works. If you live in the UK, it’s called ‘throwing a spanner.’ Throwing a wrench literally meant jamming a wrench into the gears and pistons of an engine, stopping it cold.
So we’re talking about a scene going one direction, all the cogs working perfectly, and then suddenly, something slams into that scene that stops it cold. Our character has to reassess, regroup. She has no choice. Remember a couple of weeks’ back, the exercise ‘where in the world are we?’
Each one of those little scenes ended with a surprise…a wrench…something unexpected jamming the works and turning the scene in a new direction. That turn…that surprise….is the easiest way to keep readers reading. Here are some things to think about as you craft your scenes:

  • End the scene in a cliff-hanger.
  • It can be big. Raymond Chandler said that when he needed to spice up a story, he’d simply have somebody burst into the room flinging around a gun. That’s huge.
  • It can be small. A single sentence letting us know that something we thought was taken care of…isn’t. Somebody new enters…somebody here…leaves. Or maybe our guy figures out a piece of the puzzle.
  • Space out the information you reveal. Give us a piece, but make us wait for the rest of it. Have fun, keep them reading! And write!

Vlog Produced by: Pat Allen

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