Podcast #36 is now available for download here.
As writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009, Carrie Vaughn provided a week of great lectures and worked closely with students. In her lecture on suspense, pacing, and the delivery of information, Carrie discussed various techniques authors can use to create suspense and control pacing, and the role that information plays in both of these elements. In this podcast, Carrie discusses the importance of drawing out key moments, creating emotion and expectation. Slowing down at the right places can help you generate suspense and manipulate the reader. Carrie also explains how the order of information determines the emotion and effect of the story. Changing the order in which you reveal events, or the place at which you reveal a piece of information, can completely change the impact of the story. Carrie differentiates those situations in which withholding information can provide a big payoff, and those in which withholding information alienates the reader. She also stresses that information can make the reader worry, which is good. Even better can be providing information but leading the reader to misinterpret it, so understanding only comes later. The expectations of the reader can also be used to create suspense. Does the reader expect the character will survive the story unharmed? Or is the reader terrified that the character may not survive? Playing with reader expectations can be more effective than just surprising the reader. Carrie also discusses some common mistakes writers make in creating false suspense.
Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Publishers Weekly said that “Vaughn’s universe is convincing and imaginative.” Kitty and The Midnight Hour, the first book in the series, has over a hundred thousand copies in print. The seventh novel in the series, Kitty’s House of Horrors, was released in 2010. She’s also published many short stories in various anthologies and magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and is a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.
Carrie graduated from the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in 1998 and was excited to return as an instructor. “Once I was but the student. Now, I am the master.” Oh, and she’s also a big Star Wars fan. But she really does have a Masters in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She credits the intensive Odyssey experience with helping her cross the great divide between unpublished and published, and with setting her firmly on the road of professional writing, with the skills she learned and contacts she made.
A lifelong science fiction fan and reader (her parents both read science fiction), Carrie worked the traditional series of day jobs for about twelve years before turning to writing full time. She survived her Air Force brat childhood and managed to put down roots in Colorado, where she lives in Boulder with her dog, Lily, and too many hobbies. Visit her website at www.carrievaughn.com.
For more information about Odyssey, its graduates and instructors, please visit our website at http://www.odysseyworkshop.org.