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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What 50 Shades of Grey Can Teach Us About Building Anticipation

What 50 Shades of Grey Can Teach Us About Building Anticipation
Source: somecards.com
By the end of the first chapter in EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey, the main protagonist, Anastasia Steele, meets and falls in love with the handsome and enigmatic love interest Christian Grey. Why does she fall in love with him, you may ask? That's a good question, but you won't find any explanation other than this: Christian Grey is so handsome. Christian Grey is so engimatic. Anastasia loves Christian (but she won't admit to it, yet)!

Fifty Shades isn't meant to be enjoyed as a story - it's meant to evoke a reaction (which it does admirably) - which is why it does away with any sort of buildup towards the love story between Anastasia and Christian. But if you want to tell a story, if you want your audience to be invested in what happens, then you must learn how to build anticipation.

In the case of the premature couple, you can build anticipation by answering basic questions such as how do they fall in love OR why do they fall in love? And no, Anastasia biting her bottom lip seductively doesn't count.

Now, Fifty Shades isn't exactly a love story; it's S&M erotica. Perhaps you've noticed Christian (before Anastasia discovers his secret) saying things like, "I like being in control," or, "I will punish you" as a highly-telegraphed form of foreshadowing. This doesn't build anticipation; in fact, it kills the anticipation because of how blindly obvious it is made out to be.

All in all, the book is a terrible read (unless you aren't in it for the reading). It did, however, give me a greater appreciation for stories that do it right. And those stories are the ones that know how to build anticipation as it leads towards the climax. I believe Ms. Steele and Mr. Grey can agree with that.

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