Monday, March 03, 2008

That Shiver Moment

When it came time to begin my fourth Henry Parker novel (THE STOLEN has been in the can a few months), it took a little longer than usual to come up with a story that I liked. Then, when it finally hit,  I knew it was right. I had the story for book 4.

I wrote the first two chapters, which would be included as an excerpt in my third book, THE STOLEN. Chapter two ends with a moment that, when I describe it or think about it, makes me shiver. I'm not going to give anything away since THE STOLEN hasn't come out yet, but it made me think about my favorite 'shiver moments.'

A Shiver Moment is that moment in a book that literally sends a jolt of electricity down your spine, eliciting some sort of physical reaction just from reading the words on the page. It can be violent, sexual, beautiful, just something done or written in a way in which the words create a sort of psychosomatic reaction.

I think there's a shiver moment in each of my books. In THE MARK and THE GUILTY, the shiver moments each occur a little ways into the book. But I knew what they were and knew when they would happen when I began writing the books. I felt if these moments made me shiver (and I knew they were coming!) they would hopefully make the reader do the same. In the fourth book, the Shiver Moment comes right at the beginning. And it might be my favorite one yet.

This made me think about other 'shiver moments' in my favorite books:

--When Chief Bromden says, "It's the truth even if it didn't happen" in Ken Kesey's ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.

--When Jimmy Marcus confronts Dave Boyle in Dennis Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER (I just shivered typing this--seriously).

--When Georgie meets Pennywise in Stephen King's IT.

--When Carl realizes the truth behind Zora's motives in Zadie Smith's ON BEAUTY.

--The very last sentence in Charlie Huston's A DANGEROUS MAN (more powerful if you've read the whole Hank Thompson trilogy).

These are a few of the times when reading a book where the words or actions had such an impact on me that they gave me a "shiver moment."

What are some of your favorite Shiver Moments?

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Blogger Ada [The Duchess] said...

I had the same shiver moment in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.

A shiver moment for me can be found in one of my favorite books, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. When Daniel discovers the shadow. I don't want to ruin it for anyone but wow.

Great post!

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The climax to Harry Crews's short novel The Gypsy's Curse is a great shiver moment for me. I was reading it on a packed commuter train at the time, and my face literally went cold as I read the words, and I had to put the book down for a moment to regain my composure.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Steve S said...

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7:22 AM  

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