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Monday, February 26, 2007


The Cliff Hanger

I love a good pageturner. Years ago when I lived overseas I appreciated listening to Radio Personality Paul Harvey. For part of his broadcast, he called The Rest of the Story. At least one book was created from these stories. He began telling some details about a particular person and the hook drew you into it. Except you didn't know the name of the main subject wasn't revealed until the next to last sentence. After speaking the name of the subject, Harvey ended with the trademark phrase, "And now you know the rest of the story."

Last week I was reading The New Yorker magazine and noticed a special advertising section from Lunesta called The Art of The Story. The title alone caught my attention. The ad includes a story from former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart. His story was interesting on the topic about some of the first days in his new job when he traveled with President Clinton to Moscow. Visiting an old friend, he stayed up all night and returned to his hotel at 5 a.m. Here's how the printed story in the magazine ended:

"So I got back to my hotel and made one mistake, which was to sit down on the bed. And, obviously, I fell asleep. I'm telling you, you don't know anxiety until you've woken up as the White House press secretary on your first foreign trip at 6:15 a.m., in Moscow, without a passport, knowing you've missed Air Force One. Now, the only good thing that I could think of was, the day couldn't get worse. I was wrong …" "Then it says read the story in entirety at www.themoth.org/artofthestory"

You can see why I had to read the rest of it. Thankfully the full story was online. It was an effective cliff hanger technique.

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2 Comment:

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Ron Estrada Left a note...

I grabbed a copy of King's "The Cell" off the rack just to see how he opened it. In the first sentence, I believe, he says that all the world's scientists were either mad or dead by the end of the day. Classic. Yes, I put it back on the rack, but it wasn't easy.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Jerome Left a note...

It is always interesting to see a glimpse at the inner-workings of a White House. And those first few words pulled me in. The opening has to have a hook but each scene in a novel has to end with another hook. James Scott Bell calls them "suspense bubbles">

 

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