Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NoMo Tuesdays: TENSION!

Tension can sell a book to a reader.

Tension in the cover art.

Tension in the blurb or back cover copy.

Tension on the first page.

Tension in the first chapter.

Tension keeps a reader fipping pages and jumping to the next chapter.

Tension that carries you all the way to the end of the story.

This tension can be in many forms

Like this

Or these

Or this

Or this

Or this

Or this

Correct me if I'm wrong but most fiction contains mounting tension.

So try a couple of these techniques:

1. The ticking time bomb- We think of the obvious time bombs when we think of this topic (like bombs, work deadlines, the wedding 'I Do's, etc), but there are many time bombs to consider. 

Or the reverse time bomb. If they can make it through this hard part there is an end.... In war stories you know that if they can make it through this battle alive, then we get a breather. If they can make it through the war alive, we cry for joy. Can they survive to the end? Survivor the TV show is an example.

2. Relationship tension- romantic tension is the first thing most people think of when they hear this topic, but there are many types of relationships. Thelma and Louise. Potter and Snape. The Baudalaire Orphans and Olaf. 

One of the tips when writing relationship tension is to create characters with traits that are opposite of each other. And while you are at it, throw in opposite goals or have them fight for the same goal. Create some real problems between the people and make it hard for them to reconcile.

3. Dialogue tension- this is a way to SHOW tension where the others were forms of tension.

You can show rapid fire (discordant) dialogue. Naturally when we see people talking like this we think that something is wrong. It is a sneaky way to create an emotional response in the reader.

You can give the reader information that one person in the conversation is ignorant of. We then worry about that person while we read their discourse.

This is list is NOT in any way exhaustive,
but hopefully a jumping off place to look at
the tension in your writing.

Will we make it to the end of NaNoWriMo?
Go! Go! Go!


  1. In everything, there is tension. Different kinds of tension make for different audiences, too. For me, if there is good chemistry between characters and the question of "will they get together at the end" keeps me glued to the end. I'm sappy like that. :)

  2. Those poor fish (what a great picture
    !) I totally agree about tension, it really is what makes us read on...and on...and on. Great post!

  3. That's a great list.

    That picture made my stomach churn at the very moment I laughed out loud!

  4. Oh so true and that picture of the fish int he blender is the best! LOL. It's killing me. Now that's tension!

  5. What a great post! Thanks for sharing such simple, yet fabulous advice!

  6. Love the fish in the blender... Tension really is such a powerful tool - but so hard to write! Thanks for the tips :) And good luck with NaNo... you're nearly there!

  7. Great post reminding us there is all sorts of tension! Love the fish comic as well, poor guys. Good luck with NaNo!

  8. All great ways to show tension! And it's so true we NEED it in our fiction :)

  9. I love the simple idea of - what does my person want? How am I keeping it from them?
    And asking this at the beginning of EACH and EVERY scene.

    GREAT examples :D


Comments are the sunshine butter on the toast of life.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...