I have three chapters left to write in Book Three of my Mara series.
Book Three ends with a secret mission, and the stakes are high. In order to get ideas for writing techniques to use to bring out the tension in the final chapters, I revisited Nelson DeMille’s 1980s-era spy thriller The Charm School. The Charm School is a favorite of mine, and it came highly recommended by my mentor Dr. Harold W. Rood.
The first thing I noticed about DeMille’s technique was that he goes into a lot of detail about his setting (the USSR). It’s fun to read, because it’s interesting to take a virtual tour of Russia, and it builds tension — I posit — because as a reader you know the description is building up to something. You do not, however, know when the action is going to start or which of the details you are reading about are going to become life-threatening. So, you read each line carefully, with a sense of apprehension.
I’ve been to Russia, and I find DeMille describes it well.
DeMille inserts a lot of historical information and commentary through dialogue.The main character banters with random people he meets, explains things to other characters etc. DeMille writes this dialogue skillfully, and using it allows him to maintain a high level of “showing” as opposed to “telling.” However, this technique also takes up space, and I’m inclined to think I can tell my story more efficiently by presenting more of the details as Mara’s internal reflections.