Monday, 16 June 2008

Creating Tension

Tell Me a Story - writing tip

AJ, how did you create tension in your novel? I couldn't stop reading PAST SINS. I simply HAD to find out what happened next. How can I create something similar, my stories always seem to fall flat?

That's very kind of you, Mary. Thank you. I've compiled a short list for creating tension, that is at least a starting point.
  1. The goals of the main protagonists should be at odds.
  2. Each of the main characters must be struggling to reach their individual aims, independent of, and at the expense of the other.
  3. The route your protagonists take in achieving their aims becomes the source of action. You should make a meal of it; take full advantage.
  4. The plot should have an emotive aspect. It should always be dynamic.
  5. Strong feeling shouldn’t merely be related in characters; show by reactions, don't tell.
  6. It’s the emotion that you invoke in your readers that counts.
  7. It’s essential you understand the feelings you wish to stir in your reader before you write. You must write with that emotion in mind at all times.
  8. The theme of the story should be one about which you care deeply.
  9. You must be affected by your characters, be caught up with what happens to them.
  10. Unless you believe in your characters and equate with their struggle, you may as well dump the whole idea. Your work won’t have the oomph that tempts people to turn pages.
Coupled with the above, a time constraint can also help in creating tension. Having to acomplish something before some consequence affects the characters is always a nail-biter. Hope this helps a little.

Next post on Tell Me a Story.

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4 comments:

robertsloan2art said...

Excellent tips!

DebraLSchubert said...

Great tips. Very much appreciated. I'm going to tweet this!! ;-)

Dana said...

I printed this list out so I can double-check it with my WIP! Thanks for the tips!

ajbarnett said...

So glad you found it useful, Dana. Good luck with your writing.