As a local author and current president of the Arizona Authors Association I have often heard Toby Fesler Heathcotte’s name but it wasn’t until recently that I heard her speak. What a treat.
She was the October speaker at the Desert Foothills Library Writers’ Connection group. Toby was once a drama and speech teacher at the high school level and then taught creative writing at a local community college. She now writes full-time and has quite a list of books including books for drama teachers.
Toby introduced us to her books and used a series based (The Alma Chronicles) on reincarnation as examples to show us how to create suspense in fiction and narrative nonfiction. She stressed the need to develop the stakes for characters, decide on point-of-view, and using pacing and description to keep readers on the edge of their seats. She also suggested reading and studying Dan Brown’s books for how he writes suspense.
Her suggestions included having at least one item of tension on every page and to leave questions unanswered for the characters and the reader; at least for awhile.
If a character or scene seems to get stuck try writing it from a different point-of-view to open up your mind.
Toby’s books include Out of the Psychic Closet: The Quest to Trust My True Nature which I am currently reading. It is her memoir and self-help book for those interested in or tested by their own psychic abilities.
You can find Toby’s books, biography and blog connection here.