Components of creating tension:
- An opposing force
- Unanswered question or questions created by the situation or by other characters within the story and keeps readers asking more questions thereby raising their curiosity
- Danger, fear, or conflict
- Increased danger, fear, or conflict that ebbs and flows as the story moves along
- Engaging characters with opposing goals
If you’re having difficulty coming up with specific ideas that will create tension/suspense, think of it this way, play on your main character’s fears. Make them as uncomfortable and fearful as possible. Throw the works at them. Just don’t forget to give them the courage to work through that fear and accomplish the story’s goals.
I talked about emotions in previous posts in months past, but today I’m going to focus on one of them. Anger. I’ve said it before, you don’t merely want to tell the reader that your character is angry. You want the reader to FEEL the anger…right off the page.
Dan was angry at the sight of his girlfriend in the arms of another guy.
Dan stopped short and did a double take, as he passed through the student union on his way back to his dorm. It couldn’t be her. No, no. His eyes betrayed him. After all, he saw the back of her head. It could be any girl. His brain wanted to leave but his feet stood glued in place, and his eyes were pealed on that one girl. Was it her? Was it Ann? Then, as if in slow motion, the girl turned her head, her eyes stopping on his. She smiled, then leaned in toward the strange guy and kissed him full on. A heat swelled within his chest. Why was she doing this? If she wanted to break up with him, she could have said something instead of this show. The heat within continued to swell and his nostrils pulsed. Before he knew it he was upon the both of them. His fists clenched to his sides.