Posted in Emotions

Story Tension

Tension within a story is the sense that something ominous/foreboding is around the corner. What are some ways you can create tension within your story?

Forms of Tension

  1. Increase conflict between your characters.
  2. Make the situation worse for your character(s). Ahh, the tension of the task. Don’t make what your characters have to do easy. Don’t allow them to get what they want right away.
  3. There is tension in surprise. Readers like to be surprised, whether it’s good or bad. Prolong it. Keep stringing them along until just the right time.
  4. Create an air of mystery. We all love a mystery.
Posted in Scenes

The Tug of War of Scenes

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Sentences jerked across the page. Tension climbed the mountain named Resolution only to be yanked backwards to tumble down the slope. The scene stood up and said, “One more time.” One word at a time it dug its heels in. It struck with clarity then penetrated and pushed its way back up the slope. Up up the tension rose then thrust clean off the top as the Resolution’s attitude defied them.

Dazed, the and scene lumbered to its feet then staggered. Resolution waved down at it in a mocking gesture. But now a flag with the answer whipped in the wind from the edge of the mountains crest. The scene gathered itself anew, dusted itself off, and marched along the bottom of the mountain and around to begin their climb again. But an invisible force stood in their way. For another scene on the other side of the force began their trek up the mountain ahead of them.

But, alas, that scene came tumbling down as well. It slammed into the invisible force. A bright light flashed. The invisible force faded. The first scene backed up, built momentum, then raced up the mountain a third time. Except now it raced at break neck speed. Resolution wasn’t looking. The scene ran so fast that it reached the top and grabbed the flag. Now Resolution had to give its secrets away to everyone.

Posted in Fiction

The Tension Factor (Part 2)

In a previous post I talked about types of tension and where you can find it. In this post I’d like to talk more about using it in your story in order to keep your readers turning pages. I’ve read books where, once the action starts, there is no stopping until the end. I’ve watched television shows and movies where the tension was like that, too.

What also works is what I call on again off again tension. This is when the tension is rising and has the reader/viewer on the edge of their seats, then the story does an abrupt change and goes to a different scene thus breaking the tension. Those are the moments when you, the reader, might stay, “Nooo. What happens next?” You might put the book down at this point because you’re frustrated or you might continue reading. But that’s up to you. Eventually, you will pick the book up again and continue reading. Although, I don’t see you waiting very long if you are wanting to know what happens next.

Either of these two ways of creating tension is effective. It all depends on the story you are writing and how you, the author, wants to create that tension. BUT…..however you present the tension in your story, it must build as the story moves along. Continue throwing conflict at your main character(s), and continue stepping up the “gas”.

Posted in Emotions

The Tension Factor

Components of creating tension:

  1. An opposing force
  2. 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
  3. Danger, fear, or conflict
  4. Increased danger, fear, or conflict that ebbs and flows as the story moves along
  5. 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.