Raving About Reading and Writing
Yesterday, we went to Cedar Point.
For those who are unfamiliar with amusement parks, this one’s nicknamed the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”
If you’re looking for a thrill, it’s is the place to be, with seventeen rides listed as coasters on the official Cedar Point website (http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/park/rides/coasters/index.cfm). True, two are geared toward children, but I’ve ridden that “Woodstock Express,” and it was still an adventure, albeit a mini one.
So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, in the course of our day at the park, I noticed that all the roller coasters seem to have one thing in common. The first hill is always a doozie. By bringing the cars up to speed, it makes it possible to whip riders through the rest of the unexpected — occasionally inverted — turns and loops before returning them safely home.
Think about it. When you’re clack, clack, clacking up that initial incline, your heart is in your throat because you know something big is about to happen. Then, boom! You’re at the top, looking down, and there’s barely time to scream as you fly down into the bends and twists that you’ve paid good money to enjoy.
Now, consider a good book. Its first scene will grab you, building tension just like that hill, and then dropping you into the middle of the story. Before you have a chance to protest, you’re hooked. The plot twists and turns. Sometimes you see what’s ahead and sometimes you don’t. That mixture of the “I knew that was coming” and the “Gosh, I never expected that!” keeps you reading until the conflict is resolved.
And, like a good coaster, when you shut that book, you want to go back and do it again.
Unless, of course, you want to puke.
Even I can’t find a constructive way to fit that effect into the writing analogy. And I worked at Cedar Point one summer which gives me a working knowledge of just how often it happens. Urrgggh!
I’d love to hear about your amusement park memories, both favorable and not, so leave a comment if you’d like.
I just read a book where that first hill was a doozie, and then the story cut back to six months prior for chapter two and we worked our way forwards for the next two hundred pages. I didn’t puke, but that first scene sure sunk its teeth in me.
Kym, that’s a great analogy. I love it.
Great post! Took the kids to Holdiay World, theme park in Indiana, not too long ago and can relate to your rollar coaster post. Very good!
I’m trying to learn how to make the first climb long enough to build up suspense but short enough to make sure you’re pulled in quickly!