TENSION: Crank it up!

TENSION: Crank it up!
Bio

As a writer and editor, Susan is all too familiar with both sides of the publishing world. Since 2009, Susan Brooks has served on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a nonprofit educational organization supporting both published and aspiring writers of commercial fiction. She holds a masters degree in publishing from George Washington University and is Editor in Chief at Literary Wanderlust, a small traditional press located in Denver,  Colorado.

Susan is an editor with many years of experience and occasionally takes on freelance projects. Recent editorial projects include The Homeplace by Kevin Wolf, and The Rampart Guards: Chronicle One in the Adventures of Jason Lex, by Wendy Terrien.

She tweets once in a while and you can follow her as @oosuzieq on Twitter.

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For the last few months, I’ve been talking about writing your novel using scenes. Writing your novel one scene at a time will make you a more productive writer and a better writer.

So let’s jump into it.

We want our stories to have enough conflict and tension to keep the reader turning the page. Tension is exciting and the anticipation of the outcome for the reader is what keeps them reading, and keeps you selling books. Tension is good.

Remember that if your scene has no tension then it will be boring and boring is bad. Each of your scenes must have some tension. The tension can be created through multiple channels such as character action, setting, and dialogue. It can also be generated through plot twists and foreshadowing.

“The information may be interesting to you, but if it doesn’t move the story forward why are you writing it?”

So how do you create tension?

• Make your character fail.
• Don’t let your characters accomplish their goals.
• Create a plot twist.
• Add emotion to the scene.
• Get your character in trouble.
• Make things go wrong.
• Use foreshadowing to let your character feel uneasy about what they think might happen. And then let the worst possible thing happen.
• Reveal something unexpected to your character.

The main point is that you want to make it hard for your characters to do whatever it is that they want to do. If you review your scene before and after your write it, and you make sure that whatever can possibly go wrong will go wrong, you have succeeded in adding tension to your story.

There are also other ways to increase tension.

Condense time. If nothing happens for three days in your story and you planned to show your characters sitting around eating bon bons, don’t. That would be boring and boring is bad. Condense time.

Condense information. If the narrator tends to drone on with unimportant detail, condense that information to only that which is pertinent to the story. The information may be interesting to you, but if it doesn’t move the story forward why are you writing it? Condense information.

Think up creative ways to add tension to each scene and you will create a thrilling novel for your reader to devour and that is a good thing.

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