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The Time-Sensitive Plot Device

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Jun 29, 2015 5:24:53 AM

Tick. Tock. That is the sound of suspense. In real life, deadlines are points on the calendar that are, more often than not, sources of anxiety. As an example, April 15 is a "taxing" day for a lot of Americans. It's a race against the clock that many don't look forward to running. In the suspense novel, a time-sensitive plot device is almost imperative. The reader is drawn deeper into the story as each tick of the imaginary clock sounds out on the page.


Here are four tips to writing a "race against the clock" thriller:

  1. The deadline should be clear. Don't be ambiguous. Readers have to feel time running out. That can only happen if they know the time frame that your characters are dealing with.

  2. Give the readers a sense of where the story is in relation to the deadline from chapter to chapter. Be careful that you're not too on-the-nose with your references to how much time is left. It can feel like you're spoon-feeding your readers. Find a way to let them feel the pressure of another hour or day passing without resolution.

  3. Make the consequences for not meeting the deadline clear. If readers know the price of failure, they will feel more invested in the story.

  4. Your characters should have to suffer personally for their pursuit to meet the deadline. They should be so desperate that they will step outside of their normal behavior to beat the clock. It has to mean that much to them.


Writing a story with a time-sensitive plot device is a blast. If you do your job right, it can be a blast for your readers as well.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Jun 6, 2018 5:30 AM Taylorshaw151    says:

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