Skip to content

Tension

July 16, 2018

Tension

Below are some of the things I try to keep in mind when adding tension to a scene I am writing…

 

When creating a character, make us “care” about them. Let us know something they desperately want.

… and then do everything you can to STOP them getting it.

 

Immediate tension. Add in stakes… for example, a ticking clock.

 

Stakes

  • Stakes raise the tension.
  • Stakes raise drama.
  • Stakes create emotion and make your heart race.
  • Stakes get the reader INVOLVED in the story.

 

Action scenes

  • Short sentences.
  • No long descriptions.
  • Describe physical reactions (racing heart, stomach swirling, sweaty palms).

But Action is easy tension.

 

Non-action can create tension too… it can be emotional.

  • Non-action can be anticipation. For example, searching for a lost pet or seeing a bully across the playground, or maybe standing in line to get on a roller-coaster.

 

Words and sentence structure.

The plot can move fast. Things happen fast. Short sentences. Sharp movements. Actions “snap, jerk, leap, bolt…”

OR it can move slowly with a lot of anticipation, by using longer sentences that give us more emotional impact. A character may be counting down the seconds until a balloon pops. Searching for a lost toy… knowing the baby will wake up at any moment.

BOTH can work to create tension in a story. Mix them up for a great story.

 

Activities

Write a short scene and include some of the above points.

  • Seeing a bully across the playground.
  • Breaking Nana’s prized decorative plate, and she’s walking in the door.
  • Scratching Dad’s car, and he comes home already in a bad mood.
  • It’s two minutes until the buzzer and the basketball comes your way.
  • You have a job interview, and get to the platform as your train leaves.
Advertisements
2 Comments
  1. Gwen Plano permalink

    Very helpful list, Laurie. Thank you!

    • I find it helps me to go over things like this for each book I write. I figured, maybe it might help others too 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: