The latest of my TV series binge watching is Rizzoli and Isles. I absolutely love the quirky family community and the opposite characters that showcase the heroines. This past few days I’ve been noticing some nifty tricks the writer uses to ratchet up the tension of the ticking clock.
Reading romantic suspense novels in mass lends itself to finding the cliche phrase, “Time is running out,” a nauseating disappointment. Not only is it predictable, it doesn’t point to a unique end game that is specific to your novel.
Still, the reader needs that all encompassing tension that makes the reader keep turning pages. The trick then becomes how to create that tension without the cliche.
Rizzoli and Isles gave me some new ideas for adding a ticking clock to a novel.
3 Tips To Add A Ticking Clock To Your Novel – Rizzoli and Isles Style:
- Removal of resources on a timeline. In Season 4 of Rizzoli and Isles one of the cases involved national security. To build tension, the writer created a situation where the body would be reclaimed by the government before there was time for a complete autopsy. The clock was ticking for the autopsy to be completed before the body was reclaimed. At stake is the inability to ever solve the crime.
- Sound of danger being near. The sound of a criminal that is repetitive in a signature type of way can add the sense of impending doom for the character. For example, if the sound of a motorcycle gets louder and the heroine is running away from a villain who uses a motorcycle, it creates that effect.
- Give secrets a timeline. In season 5, Episode 2, Rizzoli discovers that she is pregnant, but she doesn’t plan to tell her mother until after she has talked to her sweetheart. Her best friend guesses because of her medical expertise. This friend must then keep the secret from Rizzoli’s mother until Rizzoli shares the secret herself. This adds a bit of a ticking clock inside of this secret that adds a lot of tension to the episode.