Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pictures, And a List

Take a step back in time with me and experience the world of living in an English manor house. It was a comfortable existence - if you were upstairs. Downstairs was a different issue.

Your stately home might look like this...

Or this...

These houses had their heyday during the Victorian era, but still existed in ever-decreasing numbers until World War II.

And then there were the servants. The numbers varied depending on the family's circumstances, but large households were not uncommon. Downstairs staff would include:

  • Butler - responsible for running the house
  • Housekeeper - responsible for the female staff and maintaining the house's furnishings
  • Cook or Chef - in charge of the kitchen staff and prepares the family's meals
  • Lady's Maid - responsible for care of the lady's clothes, sometimes secretary
  • Valet - responsible for the gentleman's clothes, sometimes secretary
  • First Footman - next in line to replace the butler. Served the family meals. Accompanied the lady of the house on shopping expeditions. Should be tall and handsome.
  • Second Footman - similar duties to first footman - but in an apprentice role. It was a social coup to find a first and second footman who looked similar - like bookends.
  • Footman - additional staff for opening doors, waiting on table, etc.
  • Chamber Maid - responsible for cleaning bedrooms
  • Parlour Maid - responsible for cleaning the main reception rooms
  • Housemaid - general purpose worker
  • Between Maid - worked in either the house or the kitchen as required
  • Under-Cook - apprentice to the cook. Responsible for the staff's meals
  • Kitchen Maid - kitchen work
  • Scullery Maid - dish washer
  • Laundry Maid - responsible for the household laundry and ironing
World War II effectively ended this lifestyle, although some great houses and their attendant staffs do still exist.

This is the world of my WiP.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mother, May I...

When I was young, one of our favourite games to play at recess was "Mother, May I". This involved one person being picked as 'Mother' and all the other players lining up a distance away. You moved forward by asking if you could take 'one tiny step' or 'two giant steps' forward. 'Mother' would agree or not - or tell you what she wanted you to do. The object of the game, of course, was to be the first to reach 'Mother'.

Faster was better.

However, in my manuscript, I've discovered faster isn't necessarily better. I have a tendency for things to happen too fast - for there to be huge leaps of progress. As I go back through it, I'm breaking some of these giant leaps down into tinier steps. My detective team is clever - but they're not super-human.

I'm allowing them to make mistakes and to perhaps judge before they have all the information. I'm allowing personal prejudices to play a part in their decision making. I'm giving my other characters free reign to throw the accusations of guilt on each other.

Tiny steps - some forward, some backward.

I'm keeping some of the giant steps because breakthroughs do happen in life. One small piece of the puzzle can make an entire section come together. But I do have to keep reminding myself that sometimes, slower is better.

After all, this is a novel - not a short story.

Monday, March 29, 2010

After the Beginning, But Before the End

New writers are constantly exhorted to work on the beginning of their manuscripts. Make that first sentence irresistible! That first paragraph has to sing! That first page must leave the reader itching to continue!

Okay. Fair enough.

But there's more to a good manuscript than the beginning. We need to remember that the high polish of the beginning needs to continue throughout the manuscript. Here's an easy and rather effective way of testing your current WiP: Turn to page 59 and read it. If someone only read that page, would they want to keep reading? How about page 147?

I've found this test a wonderful device to check that each page moves my plot or character development along. I'm not suggesting car crashes or ghostly apparitions or heart-thumping suspense are needed on every page. But surely, those words should be there for a reason. If you can read a page mid-manuscript and nothing happens on it, then I would suggest you've got some work ahead of you.

I discovered I had dialogue on one of the pages - not a large surprise, since my characters tend to talk. A lot. This conversation was revealing a bit more about two characters and their relationship both with each other and with the (soon to be) victim. The other page had new evidence being revealed.

I think I'm okay.

Try this test. It works. It also makes you look at your WiP in a whole new way.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fun Friday

Here's a gem I discovered whilst being distracted. Enjoy.

Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?

Let's face it
English is a stupid language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth
Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn't the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways and
Drive on parkways

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn't a race at all)

That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
It starts
But when I wind up this observation,
It ends.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


It's so easy to get off-task when I'm writing. Oh look, laundry. Oh look, the cat has thrown up again on the floor. Oh look, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the temptation of playing one more game on the internet, or checking what people are saying on Facebook or Twitter, or etc. etc. etc.

What's a writer to do?

I've learned I have to leave. It might be different if I had a home office, but I don't. Not yet.

Several minutes lost as I imagine the space and mentally decorate it.

If I get out of the house, I can write. I've gone to coffee shops, to the library, anywhere where all I have to do is write. Now, of course, this cuts down on my muttering and pacing, but the words still manage to make their way onto the page. Doing this for several days in a row has given me a real feeling that I'm getting somewhere. I can envision actually writing a query letter in the not-too-distant future.

I can't write for hours every day - I do have a house and children (okay, teenagers) that demand my attention. Actually the teenagers just want constant supplies of food and new clothes. There's supper to make.

Several more minutes lost as I imagine having a personal chef.

I have told myself forcefully to treat my writing with respect. For me, right now, that means writing elsewhere.

How do you deal with distractions? Do you give your writing the respect it deserves?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pictures, Not Words

Here are a few posters from England during World War II; the world of my novels.

The blackouts throughout the country began immediately. You literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face and there were incidents of people walking into lightposts. You were allowed a flashlight - but the light had to be cut down to a small slit. People who had lived in London their entire lives found themselves wandering about the streets completely lost. However, you could look up and see the stars - something that Londoners hadn't been able to do for centuries.

Evacuation of children from London began early. There are many stories here, some good, some bad, some tragic.
Fear of German spies was rampant. These posters were posted throughout Great Britain.

Women's roles changed drastically during the war. On the one hand, women were the ones responsible for literally keeping the home fires burning. The rationing made cooking a challenge, to put it mildly.

But on the other hand, women were needed in the factories, to help in the building of planes, etc. And then, there are the posters which kept morale high (or as high as could be expected).

It was a time. I can't imagine placing my stories anywhere else.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You Might Just Be a Writer If...

You might just be a writer if...

1. You can't read a book without part of your brain analyzing it.

2. You look at scenery and describe it to yourself over and over until you've used the right words.

3. You carry a notebook and pen with you everywhere.

4. You know what POV and WIP stand for.

5. You can talk endlessly about word counts.

6. You watch people constantly, taking note of their clothes and movements.

7. You have no guilt eavesdropping on strangers' conversations.

8. You say you wish you had more time to write, but when you do have time, you spend it doing something else.

9. You know time ceases to run in its normal way when you're writing. An hour can pass in a blink of an eye.

10. You spend half your time convinced your manuscript is fit only for the recycling bin, and half your time hoping it might be a bestseller.

Any additions?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Who ARE You?

"The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

`Who are you?' said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'"

Who are you? Easy question. Tricky answer.

Get to know your characters. Discover their histories. Uncover their ambitions and their dreams. Embrace their flaws. Some writers do this by writing mini-biographies, some do it by simply ploughing ahead and discovering as they go. Do what works for you - but the better you know your characters the truer they become.

Get to know yourself as a writer. This is all about self-trust. You can read every how-to book in the world, but only you know what works for you. Brush up your grammar? Certainly. Perfect your technique. But find your own style - it's there just waiting to be uncovered.

Who are you? That is the question. It's a question both for our characters and for ourselves. Find the answer and you find your voice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun Friday

Welcome all to another edition of Fun Friday. Today's post is a cautionary tale about spellcheck. Enjoy.

Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

-- Sauce unknown

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the Beginning

Each writer's inspiration is unique. It could be song you heard on the radio. It could be a painting of a road winding off into the horizon. It could be an old photograph found in the back of an antique store.

Mine is usually a character.

Many times it's the victim. Who is this person and what is it about them that gets them killed? Is it where they live? What they know? What they've seen? Are they good or bad? All these questions are answered and in the answers lie the rest of my characters.

Sometimes it's a situation - a high school graduation, a wedding or a reunion. I like to write about events, simply because everyone can identify with them and it gives another layer of reality to the plot. I figure out who's attending and then the identity of the hapless victim usually becomes clear.

And another body hits the floor.

My characters give me my plot far more often than my plot gives me my characters. My victim colors everything - who they know, how they live, what they dream about. Are they loved? Hated? Feared? (which is always fascinating)

But after the fun of the inspiration, I have to actually write. That's work.

I have to remind myself about pacing, about description, about dropping clues in different ways. I worry about what every writer worries about. I mostly worry about the quality of the writing.

Where do your inspirations leap from?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I've often described myself as Canadian by birth, Irish by heritage and English by inclination. Today, however, it by way of bein' a holy day and all, I'm celebrating the Irish.

Here are some views of Ireland for you to take a wee peak at:

And from me to all of you, this traditional Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grey Days

Be positive. Rejoice in your creativity. Let the words flow. Be confident and secure.


My attitude toward my writing can vary wildly. There are days when I look forward to writing and then...

there are days I really do not.

I understand writing takes dedication and self-discipline, but it also seems to take self-confidence. I've had moments of looking over my manuscript and thinking "You think you can write? Seriously?"

Most successful writers seem to be able to channel the Little Engine That Could and know, in their hearts, they will finish and the work will be worthy. Unfortunately, my mantra somedays is not "I think I can, I think I can" but more "Don't give a damn, don't give a damn."

I know many of you out there are writing away industriously. I envy you. I can stare at the screen paralyzed with self-doubt.


I'm not a quitter. If I listen very carefully, I can hear my own Little Engine chugging away (or it's last night's supper).

I just wish it was louder.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conflicting Advice

There seems to be no shortage of writing advice. You could fill a bookcase with the amount of books telling you how-to, when-to, how-much-to write.

We are exhorted to:

Write the mother of all outlines.
Some books advise writing outlines so meticulous they strike me as the same thing as a first draft - but in point form. "You're nowhere without an outline!" these books declare, "Every good writer always prepares an outline!"

Never write an outline.
We also have the books that promote eschewing outlines. These books put forth the argument that a real writer can just sit down and write. Any outline would stifle the creativity. You must trust in the process and the road will become apparent as you travel along it. Every good writer never prepares an outline.

Write comprehensive descriptions.
Physicality is important and therefore it is the writer's duty to impart every speck of detail in their writing. Rooms must be dissected and meadows must be discussed as well as frolicked in. There is no detail too tiny. Put it all in.

Write broad descriptions.
Descriptions of places and characters should be limited to the important, not the mundane. Meaningless detail adds to nothing but the word count. Leave most of it out.

Every plot line must be concluded.
If there's a plot, there must be an ending. Leave nothing up in the air. When a reader closes the book they should have all the answers.

Open-ended plots are valuable.
Like in life, your book does not have to have endings to every plot. Minor plots can be left unresolved or have conclusions hinted at but not confirmed. This is especially important in any series. When a reader closes the books they shouldn't have all the answers.

There are, of course, many many more. I've imagined new writers eagerly reading all of these books and ending up totally confused and never actually writing a thing. I've learned to take all the advice with a large grain of salt and know what works and what doesn't work for me.

I try to write strong character-driven plots simply because that's the sort of book I like to read. As a reader I will skip over long descriptions; as a writer I don't put them in. I outline, but not to excess. I don't start writing until I know the ending and who the main characters are. But I don't know every step along the way. I will tie up my main plot, but there might be a few minor ones whose conclusions are only hinted at.

Do you have shelves of how-to writing books? Do you follow them?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun Friday

Welcome to another edition of Fun Friday. Today I'm sharing something my eldest daughter emailed me.

I hope it makes you laugh. I certainly did!


Excerpts from a Dog's Daily Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity...

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bast**ds.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.... For now.................

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Five Questions Not to Ask a Writer

People mean well. They do. But there are certain questions, I think, you should never ask a writer - or never ask many of us.

1. Are you still writing that novel?
A 'no' answer will elicit more questions - like "When is it being published?" or even worse, "Why?". A 'yes' answer will usually result in the questioner giving you a puzzled look while they respond (with astonishment) "Really? Still?"

Of course, you could be marvelously successful and have no problem answering this question. If this is true, you need to go soak your head.

2. Are you famous?
Obviously, since you've just been asked this question, the answer is no. How on earth could anyone answer yes?

3. How much money do you make?
This question never ceases to astound me. I thought it was impolite to ask about someone else's earnings. What kind of answer would satisfy the questioner? My usual response is to smile and say "The yacht is still on hold."

4. What's your book about?
Here's a loaded question. Some writers will take this as an invitation to go on for hours while others will say "I'm not sure yet." Some will give the genre as an answer: "It's a murder mystery" or "It's about looking for love". I've never found the right answer to this.

5. Am I in it?
The obvious answer is 'no'. Are you going to tell someone you've based a character on them? Unless this character is flawless and enjoys superpowers, they're going to be disappointed. I try to explain that I invent my characters - they're not based on anyone I know.

Do you get questions that make you squirm?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pictures, Not Words

I did this for a post last month and judging by your comments, it was a popular idea. Therefore, in an effort to feed my endless hunger for popularity, I offer you another edition of "Pictures Not Words."


Now take a moment, shut your eyes and hear the lapping of the water against the buildings and the chatter of the crowds. Feel the sun kissing your skin as your hand wraps around a china cup filled with frothy cappuccino.

Have a wonderful Wednesday. Buon giorno!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writing What You Know

If you've ever read any of the myriad of books on writing, one of the biggest rules seems to be 'write what you know'.

I disagree.

I think you should write what makes your imagination fly.

I don't want to place my stories in my actual location - it doesn't fire my imagination. It's home. It's familiar. Nor do I want to write about situations I know or have experienced. Honestly, how many stories could you write about taking care of children and trying to keep a house somewhat clean? Perhaps you could write hundreds - it leaves me dry.

If I took this caveat to heart, I could write about the theatre - and I must admit I've given it some thought. Non-theatre people (known as civilians) are often fascinated with what goes on behind the curtain, or in the rehearsal hall. The problem is the reality of that world isn't as glamourous as people think. It isn't a world filled with feuding - most of the time. Most actors, offstage, are fairly regular people. So are directors. No one calls each other 'darling' or slinks around while flicking their cigarette-holders. It's work. Learn your lines. Do the show. Worry about getting another job.

I don't live in England - nor do I live in the 1930s or 40s. But this is the time and place that makes my imagination fly. It's impossible for me to learn too much about it - my bookcases are filled with books and I watch every documentary, movie or television series I can about the period. I find it endlessly fascinating.

It's not what I know from living it. But, I guess, in a way, I am writing what I know.

How about you? Do you write what you know?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Lists

There must be something in the air, because book lists are popping up everywhere faster than weeds in my garden. A brief sampling include:

and one I'm a touch too late for:

Excepting the latter, there are several books which appear on all the lists - some of which I have read, and many many of which I haven't. I'm going to make a confession.


Right now.

I've never read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Not once.

Now, I tried. I tried many, many times. I had it assigned to me in several different English Lit classes at university. I couldn't do it. Couldn't get beyond page 7.

However, I listened to my professors and took copious notes. I could and did write essays and exam questions about Mr. Conrad's classic. I just never read it.

I never will.

Nor have I ever seen Apocalypse Now. Why? Think about it for a second. What book was it based on? There ya go.

Time for your guilty confessions. What classic have you never read?

Don't leave me standing here all alone.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fun Friday

I apologize to all of you whose blogs I visit - I've been hip-deep in work finishing my game. It's done now so I can now start leaving comments again. Know please, I was visiting during these last few days - just not commenting. I'm sorry.

However - it's Fun Friday!

If you ever need a reminder about the importance of proofreading, or sober second thought, I offer you these headline gems...

Many Antiques at Senior Citizens' Sale

Lack of Brains Hinders Research

Goldfish is Saved from Drowning

Bodies Needed to Look After Graveyard

Protesters Try to Destroy Play But Actors Succeeded

No Cause of Death Determined for Beheading Victim

Psychics Predict World Didn't End Yesterday

Sun or Rain Expected Today, Dark Tonight

Tips to Avoid Alligator Attacks
1. Don't swim in waters inhabited by large alligators

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ode to a Manuscript


Oh, how I love thee, manuscript - let me count the ways.
Thy characters - they delight me
Thy dialogue - how it sparkles
Thy twists and turns confound and amaze me.
Surely this is the best manuscript I have ever had the fortune to write.


Oh, how I am bored with thee, manuscript - let me count the ways.
Thy characters are dull and flat
Thy dialogue is trite and unimaginative
Thy twists and turns are obvious
Surely this is the worst manuscript I have ever had the misfortune to write.


Oh, how I rejoice in your finishing, manuscript - let me count the ways.
Thy characters are human and fault-filled
Thy dialogue is informative and funny
Thy twists and turns are many
I complete thee and hope for the best.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am hip-deep in revisions as I put the finishing touches on my latest mystery game. My apologies to all you wonderful blogger-pals for my lack of comments yesterday and today. Trust me when I say I'm still reading all of your posts - but the time for I use for commenting is being put into my game.

I'm leaving you today with a few quotes about editing and revisions - see you on the other side!

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better..."~Robert Cormier

"The great thing about revision is that it's your opportunity to fake being brilliant."~Will Shetterly

"Books aren't written- they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it."~ Michael Crichton

"The difference between the right and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug." ~ Mark Twain

"The wastebasket is the writer's best friend."~ Isaac Singer

"The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do."~Thomas Jefferson

"This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again."~ Oscar Wilde

"I can't write five words but that I can change seven."~ Dorothy Parker

"Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush."~ Pete Murphy

"To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again and once more, and over and over."~ John Hersey

"It is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." ~Robert Southey

"My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip."~Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Freedom in a Box

As many of you know, my WiP takes place in pre-WWII England. The books I hope will follow, will take place during the war. In the course of doing the necessary research, I've come across some interesting historical's one which will make you want to re-look at that Monopoly game languishing in the back of a closet.

From 1941 onwards, as more and more Allied pilots and airmen became reluctant guests of the Third Reich, the RAF spent some time dreaming up ways to help these captured men and aid their escapes. The most obvious need was for a map showing the locations of 'safe houses' where an escapee could expect to receive food and shelter. It was decided to print these vital escape maps on silk, since paper maps make noise as they are unfolded and refolded and turn into mush when they come in contact with water. Silk maps could be crunched into tiny balls and unfolded silently.

In 1941, the only company in Great Britain that had perfected printing on silk was John Waddington, Ltd., the same company that held the UK rights to the Monopoly board game.Objects coming under the term 'games and pastimes' were part of the CARE packages distributed by the Red Cross to all prisoners of war.

Under the strictest security and secrecy, a select group of Waddington employees began producing silk escape maps keyed to each region of Europe where POW camps were located. These maps were then hidden inside Monopoly playing pieces.These games also included a token containing a small magnetic compass and another containing a two-part metal file. Hidden in the Monopoly money were amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian and French currency.

Before taking off on their first mission, all Allied air-crews were told how to identify these particular Monopoly sets. There was a tiny red dot - looking like a printing glitch - in a corner of the Free Parking square. It is estimated that one-third of all Allied POWS successful escapes were helped by these Monopoly games.


Monday, March 1, 2010


Imagine, for a moment, if a mystery novel read like this:

There is a small English village named Piddlington-on-the-Stowe. One dark, stormy night a body is discovered inside one of the quaint thatched cottages. An amateur detective quickly solves the case by picking up clues the police never find. Tea is served.

Every mystery, no matter what its sub-genre, needs suspense. Readers want a few moments of wondering and worrying what's going to happen next. A good mystery will keep readers turning pages deep into the night.

Having survived a certain gold medal hockey game yesterday, I'll offer these observations on how your characters might react to a suspenseful or tension-filled situation.

Heart rates increase. Your character might be able to hear their heart pounding in their ears or feel their heart has moved up to their throat.

Attention sharpens. The outside world disappears as your character focuses all their energy on the crisis at hand.

Time disappears. Time ceases to tick along at its regular rate. Seconds could fly by or drag. The situation might only encompass a few minutes, but to your character it could seem like years.

Silence. People don't talk in a tense situation. There are no screams of horror - that's a reaction to a surprise. Suspense is silent.

It is only after the tension breaks your character might notice their breathing starts to return to normal. If all has ended well, then the celebrating commences. Now there's shouts of joy and back-slapping.

Survival is the ultimate adrenaline-rush.