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Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My Name is Stephanie and I Suffer From...


I suffer from PHGS. This disorder- Post Hunger Games Syndrome- was discovered by Lisa and Laura, who are not only super cool, but apparently have joint psychology degrees as well.

I can count on my fingers how many books I've reread in my life. You want to know why I missed two blog posts last week, something I never do? Because I was editing (yes, that's 8, or 9, or 10) and rereading both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

Curse Suzanne Collins for not writing the third one faster. I'm dying over here!

About halfway through The Hunger Games this time it occurred to me to wonder why the heck these books are so good. Then I realized- the action never stops. I love the characters (Katniss, Peeta, and Gale could compete with Scarlett, Rhett, and Ashley for best love triangle ever), but I have a heck of a time putting the book down, even now that I know what's going to happen.

So amidst my frantic page turning, I discovered two things.

1. The books are in present tense. Collins does such a great job making this effortless that I didn't even notice that until I was almost at the end of the first book the second time around. It totally works for her.

2. The chapter endings are all cliff-hangers. I couldn't possibly put the book down at any of the normal spots a reader looks to stop. I had to know what was going to happen next. And who puts a good book down in the middle of a chapter? The dark circles under my eyes can attest to the fact that I don't.

Thanks to Collins, I went back into HATSHEPSUT to check my chapter endings. It's a little hard to have white-knuckle cliffhangers as I'm covering roughly 30 years in the novel and the chapters typically close at the end of a scene before a time jump. However, most of them end leaving something to tantalize the reader. It's not as immediate as The Hunger Games, but it's still there. However, two of my chapters had a great ending point, but I kept rambling for another couple paragraphs.

I deleted those paragraphs.

I've also gone back in and racheted up the drama in a few spots. I used to treat Hatshepsut with kid gloves (because she's like a god), but now I'm not afraid to throw her (or any of the other characters) in front of the bus.

What about you? How do your chapters end? Have you read The Hunger Games? If not, you need to jump on this bandwagon ASAP!

23 comments:

52 Faces said...

I never re-read books either!

I just bought Hunger Games on audiobook (I'm a NYer who lives in SoCal so I need SOMEthing to while away the terrible traffic every day) so I'm excited to start it and get on the bandwagon.

Surfed over from Bane's site!

Jon Paul said...

Hunger Games is certainly on my TBR. I've heard nothing but good things about it and this post confirms that view.

Great that the lessons you are picking up are so applicable to your WIP. The chapter ending trick is a good one to keep in mind.

Jemi Fraser said...

I loved the Hunger Games, but haven't read Catching Fire yet. I'm kind of waiting until closer to the release of the 3rd book - not sure I'm going to make it :) She is a great author.

I have a mix of endings for my chapters - may have to go back in and look at that now!

Matthew Delman said...

It's slightly funny that you're talking about chapter endings and I'm debating chapter length. Same wavelength and all that. ;)

That said, I try to end on a cliffhanger-y note all the time, but that's not always possible unfortunately. Maybe I'll have to rewrite to make that so. Hmm ...

Gary Corby said...

Haven't read Hunger Games (yet), but what really struck me is you rarely re-read books. The number of books I've re-read must be in the low hundreds.

Stephanie McGee said...

Haven't read these books. Congrats on getting through another round of edits.

Steph Damore said...

I love being obsessed with a novel (series are even better!). My friend and I were just talking this last night and how we want to find a novel to be obsessed all over again. I've heard The Hunger Games is awesome before, so now I'll finally go check it out.

Faith said...

LOVED The Hunger Games. And I refuse to read the second one until the third book is out, because I've heard that Catching Fire ends on the kind of cliffhanger that makes you want to pull your hair out!!!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I can't believe how many people in the comments so far have NOT read these books! I'm shocked. They merit being moved to the top of all TBR piles everywhere. Don't delay, people - read them. Read them now. Ha ha ha. :-)

Emily J. Griffin said...

PHGS and PCFS (Post Catching Fire Syndrome)!! Seriously!

I could not agree more and your analysis or WHY these books are so engrossing is dead on!

Dominique said...

I haven't read Hunger Games, but I've heard some much good about it that it's on my list.

I read somewhere the every chapter should end with unanswered questions in the reader's mind. That's definitely something I need to work on.

laurel said...

Oh yes, the page turning chapter ending. I ended far too many of my chapters with resolution and was taken to task by my critiquers.

Interestingly, I found I could get the page turning tension easily by splitting a scene over a chapter break. I look for a good mid-scene tense moment and end the chapter there. Then I pick up the rest of the scene in the next chapter (with a few time and place hints added for clarity). It is amazingly effective and so simple!

Bane of Anubis said...

Yeah, I'm a huge Hunger Games fan. It's not just the non-stop action that did it for me, but also the stakes involved. Love high stakes.

Amalia T. said...

Proof that reading other books is an important part of writing! Sounds like Hunger Games was a revision tool in disguise!

(I was also a little surprised that you don't reread books that often-- I do it all the time!)

I think Rick Riordan does a good job in Percy Jackson, of ending chapters with cliffhangars that make me want to read the next one...

Tamika: said...

I haven't read either of these books! I feel cheated, I'm going to have to fix this problem.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Okay, that was one of the most convincing reviews I've ever read :) Now I have to decide whether to jump right on the bandwagon... or wait for the third book to come out...

L. T. Host said...

I've heard a lot of good things about these books. Might just have to pick them up. Someday.

Sending you an email...

JenE said...

I really enjoyed those books, too! She does a great job at raising the stakes and ratcheting up the tension. I've been meaning to reread them as well, but haven't done it yet. Next time I'm taking notes!

Natalie said...

Oh yes, I'm trying to put off my HG reread until a month before book 3 comes out. Otherwise I'll just have to read them again. They're just so good. I think I had pretty good chapter endings in my last book. (At least my critique partners liked them), but I've struggled with my current WIP. I do have a few that are really good though.

K. Marie Criddle said...

August 24th! Book 3 comes out August 24th! Who's up for a wild, raucous summer blog party? I'll bring the mockingjay buttons and wear my shirt-on-fire. Woot!

Elana Johnson said...

I enjoyed The Hunger Games immensely! Catching Fire wasn't my fave, since it sort of felt like a repeat THG, but it was still awesomesauce. And yes, you need cliffhangers at the end of the chapters. :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Thanks for the shout out! I LOVED HUNGER GAMES AND CATCHING FIRE. Seriously can't wait for book #3...it is a little like being hungover isn't it?

Terresa said...

Yes, I loved Hunger games, although the present tense bugged me. I still don't like reading *any book* in that tense (maybe it's just me?).

The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale bugs me, too. Although it's not as sappy/cloying as the Twilight love triangle. Gah!

Still, overall the books are wonderful fun.

Catching fire surprised me, as it seemed like a rehashing of sorts. I wondered how Collins and the editors thought that would be OK to rehash like that. I would've preferred a different (still intense/adrenaline rush) storyline there.

Or maybe I'm just picky. Still, I will definitely read book #3!