What I Learned Reading Thanks for the Memories, by Cecelia Ahern (published by Harper Collins). Many of you will know her as the author of 'P.S. I Love You'.
This book is not my usual kind of read. It's most definitely romance, which I rarely read as a genre. My sister gave it to me, and the first thing I should say is I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
I literally kept dashing to my room to read another chapter in secret. If that doesn't deserve a blog post, I don't know what does.
So, before I get into the nitty gritty of how Ahern pulled this off so well, I'll start with: go read the book. If you enjoy romance with a great cast of characters, main and secondary, a beautifully engaging setting, and a perfect ending, you'll love this. It will not make you cry as much as 'P.S. I Love You' but it will definitely pull at the heart strings. The main character's elderly dad is an epic character, who will you never forget. (Or at least not for awhile. I read this a few months ago.)
Right. So. That said, I'll jump right in.
This book certainly upholds the 'keep them apart till the ending' principle. But I did not know that when I started reading, of course. The two main characters first meet in chapter seven (of forty-three), so pretty early on. From that moment on there's a sort of cat-and-mouse chase that almost brings them together several times, and it is infuriatingly effective. As the reader, I had absolutely no clue about how or when they were going to connect and, as I said before, I couldn't put the book down.
If we take the leading lady to be the protagonist (her PoV is first person), and the guy to be the antagonist (his PoV is third person - his actions mostly keep them apart), this principle can be applied to any genre. By knowing that they will inevitably meet at some point, and something big will happen, Ahern keeps the reader guessing all through the book. The trick, I think, was all the 'almosts'. If the two leads had separate story lines that never touched until the end, this nail-biting urgency would be lacking. It was the multiple 'will-they-won't-theys' that kept me turning those pages.
In my current WIP, a superhero/spy mystery, the main confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist comes, as it should, right at the climax, pages from the end. But I'm attempting to apply this principle by giving them plenty of 'almosts' to keep things hot.
I guess my beta readers will let me know if it works!
Readers, which books have you read with plenty of 'almosts'?
Writers, have you applied this principle to your story?