A lesson in suspense from Harper Lee

Lee kept her readers in suspense by waiting 55 years to publish her second book, but she also can milk a scene on the page. That, plus writing about snowstorms, a grammatical crusade, and more.

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Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out. Our roundup of writing stories this week focuses on learning from Harper Lee, covering snowstorms, the weird trend in writing residencies, and one editor’s obsession with a common error.

Lessons from Harper Lee: With Lee’s next book coming out this year, 55 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Roy Peter Clark of Poynter reviews one of Lee’s most powerful storytelling devices that made the novel a classic in American literature: building suspense through describing the passage of time.

In “Mockingbird” we are awaiting a verdict. Jury deliberations, especially in the Jim Crow South, could be over in a few minutes. Or they can take days and days. Or the jury can be hung. What will happen? That’s what all the characters in the novel, and all its readers, want to find out.

It’s a nice breakdown of the book’s 21st chapter. Spoiler alert: If you’ve never read Lee’s book, you may want to avoid this one.

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