One Writer’s Journey

August 17, 2017

Tension: Make It Count

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:39 am
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mixed-climbing-1204218_1920When we start a new piece of fiction, one of the things that we need to figure out is how to add tension.  One of the best ways to do this is to give your character a goal but have something stand in her way.

This something can be external. Perhaps two young characters want to win the grand prize but only one can be the big winner.  Not only will the two characters be in competition, they might also throw extra road blocks in each others way.

But the roadblock can also be internal.  The competition involves a spelling be.  Your character spells like a champ but has horrible stage fright. How will she ever compete in front of the entire school?

Tension is a tricky thing.  Give your reader a little tension and they turn to the next page.  Good, you’ve got them hooked.  But to keep the pages turning, you need to increase the tension.  One of the best ways to do this is to have some decision made by your character make things worse.

In the first example, your POV character might attempt to sabotage her competitor only to have it earn her a detention or time out.  Unfortunately, the rules say that only good student citizens will be allowed to compete.  The POV character has put her own eligibility in jeopardy.

In the second example, the character is given advice on how to control stage fright.  Unfortunately, in round 1 when she speaks to the back wall vs making eye contact, she stumbles and nearly falls of the stage.  Now she’s really scared to be up there.  Will she be able to keep going?

These are the steps that I’m working through in my current WIP.  I know more or less what will launch the adventure.  I know how it will end.  Right now I’m working out how to keep the tension up and within acceptable limits given that my characters are eight years-old.  It isn’t like I can leave them hanging from a cliff – or can I?





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