Land applied the Page 69 Test to The Rising and reported the following:
Visit Heather Graham's website and Jon Land's website.Payne shrugged, the gesture abandoned in mid-effort. “Let’s wait and see what the second scan shows. Try not to worry until then.”That’s how page 69 of The Rising opens. And since the book was penned by a pair of thriller writers, we don’t have to tell you that “until then” is going to happen soon and there’s going to be plenty to worry about.
Our goal in writing The Rising a book that would hook you no matter what page you read first, this one or any other. Every page would make you want to go back and read the page before and be chomping up the bit to read the page after. Before we know it, later on page 69 Alex goes back into the same CT scan machine that clearly revealed something array the first time.
But what was it?
Well, as the great Alfred Hitchcock would’ve said, it’s the Maguffin. The catalyst that drives the action forward on the part of good guys and bad guys. It’s a secret we hold back until much closer to the end of the book, while planting plenty of clues along the way.“Stay still, Alex.”There’s a lot, an awful lot, Alex doesn’t realize. If you turn the page to 70, which we can’t do for this exercise, you’re obviously going to see Alex’s plight worsen. Either the scan is going to reveal something or something else, totally unexpected, is going to happen that further intensifies Alex’s plight.
He hadn’t realized he was moving.”
The very definition of suspense, in other words.Alex closed his eyes as the machine began its work. He wished he had a happy place to go to in his mind, but he’d never needed one before and the only thing he could think of was the football field, which hadn’t proven to be so happy the night before. Think of that and all he could picture was the bone-crunching impact that had put him here.See, page 69 moves the story forward by reminding us what happened that landed Alex here in the first place. Notice that the entire scene is written from Alex’s POV. We see what Alex sees, hear what he hears, feel what he feels, almost like we’re lying next to him on that table. So the suspense, the driving force of any story, continues to ratchet up because the experience for the reader is visceral as well as visual.
And here’s the bottom line: I honestly believe that if you picked another page, everything we just said about page 69 applies to every single page of The Rising. Wanna see if we’re right? Well, you’ve only got 397 more to go?