Monday, May 21, 2012

That Moment Called Murder

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Mystery author Faye Tollison is my guest today. Faye is the author of To Tell the Truth and the soon-to-be-released The Bible Murder.

There are many ways to lay out your murder, but I have two that I particularly like to use. They work for me; and as writers, we do tend to like what works.
If you have a murder scene that moves quickly, it would best serve that scene if you build up the scenes prior to it slowly, increasing the suspense and the pace as you get closer and reaching the peak at the moment of murder. The idea is to stretch it out and keep your reader on edge and then moving the actual murder quickly.
The method I used in To Tell the Truth was to build up the scenes prior to the murder scene quickly and then lengthen the actual murder scene slowly, building the suspense up to the climatic moment. When Ken (the antagonist) pulled the gun on Anna (the protagonist), I made the scene go fairly slow to give the reader a sense of the emotion he was feeling. Then when Anna was trying to get the gun from him, the scene sped up, and it moved quickly. But when Anna finally got the gun in her hands, I slowed things down to a very slow pace. Anna needed that time to think about what she was doing. I had her become somewhat mesmerized by the drop of blood rolling down to his upper lip as he pleaded with her; and then the drop of blood stopped and just sat there, not moving any further, building the suspense as the reader waited, possibly even hoping, for her to pull the trigger. Then things began to move fast as John (the cop) moved to stop her from shooting Ken and the gun goes off, Ken falling to his knees and then to the floor.
As you notice, I wrote the scene in a crescendo of slow, fast, slow, and then fast pacing. This method will keep your readers interested and wanting more. Tease them, then back away, and then tease them some more until you reach that moment of murder. Do not give it to them too fast or too slow but in waves of both.
Whether you are writing a mystery or a suspense story, suspense is the key to your murder scene. Even though there are other means of building suspense, pacing still plays a major part in it.
Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murder
            Sarah’s Secret
Member of: Sisters in Crime
            Writers on the Move
            Books in Sync

To Tell the Truth
Anna Kacey had faced many difficult situations in her life and had carried some heavy responsibilities. When she met Senator Kenneth Levall, her world soared. At least until it collapsed.
     Undercover cop, Detective John Mentz, came into her life and fell deeply in love with her. He gave her reason to question her relationship with the senator, who he was investigating for drug trafficking.
     But as strong a woman as Anna was, she had to dig deep to find the strength to endure what followed:  the murder of her sister, the destruction of her life, and lastly facing a courtroom full of people, a judge, and a jury in an effort to save the man she really loved. He had confessed to the murder of the senator in order to protect Anna from being charged with the murder.
     It was now time for her to stand up and tell the truth.

About Faye
Faye M. Tollison has been writing since she was a teenager and has loved mysteries for as long as she can remember. After 27 years in the medical field, she decided to devote herself to writing her own mystery.
She has written several articles on writing, which were published in The Quill, a newsletter for the South Carolina Writers Workshop, and in The Printed Matters, a newsletter for the local chapter for the SCWW. She also had a short story published  in Catfish Stew, an anthology published by the SCWW. As a member of the SCWW, she wrote numerous critiques, which were also published in the Printed Matters. In May of 2011 Faye finished and self-published her first novel, which is a romantic suspense. She is also a member of Sisters In Crime.
Faye lives in the upstate of South Carolina with her three cats and is presently working on her second and third books.


Polly said...

Very interesting technique, Faye. I think writers do whatever we can to infuse a scene with suspense. Best of luck with The Bible Murder.

Faye Tollison said...

Thanks, Polly. Yes, I think every writer has his/her own techniques, and it's good for young upcoming writers to learn them all in order to come up with their own or use a technique of another writer. I still study styles and techniques of other writers.


elysabeth said...

Interesting posting about pacing. I'd forgotten how you paced the scene of the murder (guess I should go back and read the book again - lol). Thanks for having Faye, Ellis.

See you all in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA paranormal mystery

Ellis Vidler said...

Nice post, Faye. Pacing is a hard one to get right. Establishing a rhythm may help me avoid the too-slow parts. I'll have to try it.

Thanks for being here today.

Faye Tollison said...

Thanks to all who commented today. I enjoyed being the guest blogger. Be sure to catch an interview of me by Elysabeth Eldering on her blog,

Faye Tollison said...

Sorry, I got that website wrong...LOL. It is

Brian Kavanagh said...

Good post, Faye.

Crack You Whip said...

I have never tried pacing but it sounds like an interesting technique to try.

Sandy Cody said...

Great post. I think the bottom is to achieve a rhythm so that the scene flows and does not become static. I appreciate the way you've broken it down. I'll try this technique in my WIP. I love the way writers share; we all benefit.