The ticking clock
Lee Child, author of the “Reacher” thrillers, created a nice bit of business in his novel “61 Hours,” which I just finished.
He ended every chapter by writing something like, “It was 6 p.m. Tuesday. Fifty-six hours to go…” or “When the police cruiser dropped him off, it was midnight. Thirty-five hours to go….”
“To go” to what? We didn’t know. But it gave the narrative a nice “time bomb” element. The reader knows something big is going to happen, and the reader knows it’ll happen 61 hours after Chapter 1 begins. We just don’t know what “it” is.
It was a quick, elegant way to ratchet up the tension.