The Koontz Dangle
One of the best stylistic things I ever learned about writing novels, was gleaned from being an avid reader of Dean Koontz. I not only read his work, I studied it.
Several years ago, I was reading in bed, and was so sleepy that I felt I couldn’t continue, and yet I turned the page and kept trying to stay awake. This had happened before with his books, and often i would wake up later or the next morning with my reading lamp still on, and the book still on my chest. I read until sleep claimed me. Why? Because my curiosity was piqued, and because there were things left unanswered. Koontz was able to string me along as if I had a leash on, and he was holding the other end.
The technique was this: Every chapter used a staggering character–(no, not drunk people)–they would each be about a certain character, and the chapter after it would be about a different character. But at the end of each of those chapters, without fail, something would happen and I would be left hanging. So I’d go to the next chapter, but it would be about someone else, in another situation, and I’d be reminded that I wanted to know about that, too. Thus, I kept reading, because he always left something dangling at the end, but skipped to someone else and did the same there in the chapters that followed. By the time all the questions were answered and all the curiosities were quenched, the book was over. Brilliant stylistic device. No surprise that Dean Koontz has been so successful for so long. He earned it.
So I went back to all my manuscripts and did a revision on each (which is, as you will note, called RE-VISION for a reason…you have to look at it again, and in a new way). I did rewrites to include this technique of dangling, and my books then became more page-turners.
Thank you, Mr. Koontz.
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