Friday, February 26, 2010

Make them Suffer

While preparing for my workshop--You Can Write a Novel--to be presented Saturday, Feb. 27th at the Greater Harvest Workshops in the Cincinnati/Dayton area tomorrow, I came across this great quote by Alfred Hitchcock.

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”

While Al was speaking more of moviegoers, the sentiment can easily be applied to writing. I love quotes. I love using them in teaching and using them to inspire myself. And this one is a gem.

"Always make them suffer." This is every writer's purpose. Build an emotional attachment between the reader and the character, put the reader into the situation, and create extreme nervous anxiety that stretches the reader to the very limit of endurance. Make them suffer.

Isn't that when you know you just read a good book? When you, as a reader, became part of the action. When you felt like you had something to lose. Even with romances, YA, or picture books, pull your reader in. They should experience whatever the character experiences. Whether romance or danger or the exhilaration of buying the perfect dress at 80% off.

My challenge to you today is to open your current WIP at random. Any page. Open and start reading. Is there tension on that page? Does it capture your imagination? Do you want to learn more about the character and the situation just by reading that one small excerpt? Is it enough to keep you reading? If not, raise the stakes.

Happy writing and make them suffer.


  1. Anonymous8:59 AM

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  2. Love all of your advice! I am wondering-how do you determine what point of view to tell a story from?