As you may have heard, I finally finished the Maze Runner trilogy. (I haven’t read the prequels…may not for a while. They’re not piquing my interest much)
I read the first book back in high school, loved it, but then I started to read The Scorch Trials and got creeped out by the head-eating-metal-blob-thingy, and it probably didn’t help that I was sitting in my room alone during like a thunderstorm and was just like NOPE.
(Fun fact: when I went to see The Scorch Trials in theaters, I didn’t realize there were you know ZOMBIES in it and to top it all off I saw it in a dingy old basement theater on a rainy night that also happened to be Halloween.) (And then the next morning my garden was WASTED. The fences were down and a huge hole was ripped right through the chicken wire and I was just like “were there zombies?????”)
(Could have been kids or deer)
(or it could have been zombies)
But that was back in 2015. Which means it took me five flipping years to read the books.
Also what’s weird, is that reading/watching the books back then, I was a teenager. The characters were my peers. Now I’m 23 (well, 23 minus 2ish months). (I feel like now a days when I read YA and I see that the character is 16 or something I’m just like they’re a BABY. Knowing full well I did not think this when I was 16.)
BUT ANYWAY, I LOVED the books and one of the biggest take aways I have from them (from a writing perspective ) is:
Not letting the reader know where the story is going, and letting the reader believe anything could happen.
Not Knowing Where the End is Going
Through the books I was just like “WHeRE Is IT gOiNG???”
I think incorporating this into a story depends on what kind of story you’re writing. A lot of stories you have the “end goal” out there. Find the murderer. Destroy the ring. Stop the bomb from going off.
So think the key would be to pay attention to what kind of story you’re writing. If the end is a little fuzzy, use that to your advantage to keep the reader on their toes.
Anything Could Happen
Again, I think this mostly depends on the genre. How much suspense you want depends on what you’re writing. A romantic beach book doesn’t need to be as edge-of-your-seat as a thriller.
BUT how do you do it? I think you have to make the reader believe that you (the author) will do anything. That there is no character who is safe. There is nothing that is impossible.
The Maze Runner books had an advantage because the very idea of the story was trippy. The kids were being tested and WICKED admitted they fooled with their brains and who knows what’s real. And weird, seemingly impossible things happened all the time. There metal blob thing. The crazy lightning storm. The flat trans. The Griever hole. Nothing was off limits.
The other thing was – people died. People got hurt. Things went terribly wrong all the time, so as a reader you could only believe they could get worse.
I think there are a lot of stories where it’s just going to be a little predictable and that’s OK. Sometimes you just know that they’re going to stop the bomb, they’re going to stop the bad guy. And there’s nothing wrong with that, AND that doesn’t mean you’re story won’t be exciting.
But sometimes it’s fun to – have Thanos snap. Have Jack Ryan not catch the bomb in time and Baltimore blows up. You don’t want the reader to think you’re playing it safe.
One last thing: to add an extra bit of suspense, don’t give your reader/characters a break.
Ok, now I’m going to go back to name hunting *screams* (I just *aghghgh* I can’t seem to find a name I like for this character. #thestruggleisreal)