[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #45 - September 2007 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 8 23:07:31 PST 2007

On Nov 8, 1:59 pm, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at yahoo.com> wrote:

> In all fairness, I wouldn't have considered it a "cheat" if you hadn't
> revealed until the very end who Martin's "friend" was.  There weren't,
> after all, a long list of suspects (although I was under the
> impression that Derek hated the Green Knight --and not without good
> reason I might add).

Well, we'll certainly get into that more when the series restarts, and
it will cause some friction.  But, at the same time-- the Green Knight
_did_ save Derek's life.  That's not something anyone, including
Derek, would easily dismiss.

>  It seems to me that in order to maintain
> suspense one does have to stick to a single point of view.  Isn't that
> what you yourself were trying to say when you told Wil that in order
> to maintain suspense one shouldn't "leave the room"?

Well, there are two kinds of suspense at work here: one is the
suspense of, what's going to happen next?  And in order to develop
that suspense, it is of primary importance to "stay in the room".
Often a writer (and I used to do this quite a bit myself, especially
in the Teenfactor and NHOP days) will build suspense to a point, then
leave the room, then come back after the suspense has dissipated.
It's easier to do this, and it's lazier.  If you cut from the
suspenseful scene to something else, it's lessened the power of your
suspense.  It's like someone starting to play an awesome guitar solo,
then you leave the room, then you come back after it's over.  It's
much more entertaining and fulfilling to see how he sustains the

The other kind of suspense arises out of dramatic irony: the reader
knows something the character doesn't.  We know Oedipus killed his dad
and boinked his mom while he doesn't know this, and when he rails on
about capturing the killer and avenging the death, we know he's
talking about himself-- and each time this happens, it ratchets up the
dramatic irony, the sense of dread, and the anticipation-- i.e., the

It's the same sort of suspense at work in cross-cutting.  Building on
fire, hero on his way, beams falling, hero on his way, children
screaming and smoke getting closer, hero's horse breaks a leg and hero
starts running, mother starts to pass out-- WILL HE MAKE IT IN
TIME????!!!?, et cetera.

The use of this sort of montage, incidentally, generally works really
well in film, fairly poorly in comics, and very poorly in prose, and
that's because of the physical space required by both comics and

> Anyway, I personally prefer writing ensemble pieces, but there's
> always the danger of course that a couple of characters are going to
> get short shifted in terms of development and somebody is going to
> accuse them of being "interchangable". :)


I think actually that's more of a danger with a heavily plot-based
ensemble piece.  My general feelings about ensembles have been largely
negative because they so often undercut suspense, certain characters
are poorly-developed, and, especially in filmmaking, they're an easy
way out-- it's a lot easier to fill up ninety minutes if you're
telling ten people's stories rather than just telling one's.

I've been on a Trollope kick lately though and that's made me more
amenable to the form. :-)


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