Tuesday, June 12, 2012

on writing - tension

Some advice on writing tension to keep readers turning pages:

By Space Chicken 814
1.  Show, don't tell! The fewer blocks of description
or passive writing, the better.  Avoid "info dumps"
where you just toss down a blob of information -
that's goingto bring your story to a screeching halt
and make it into a textbook. Instead, giveyour readers
information by showing the characters doing things,
including realistic dialogue and action scenes.

2.  Make your "danger" believable.

3a.  Watch your pacing. You increase tension by
shortening your words and sentences. Long sentences
create a more relaxed mood, while short choppy ones make the scene more suspenseful.

3b.  Don't keep things at a fever pitch, though. Your characters and readers need some
downtime after an action scene. Have the mood of your story vary from suspenseful
to more relaxed in order to keep the tension higher.

4.  Watch your time line - scenes which take place in a short amount of time (one night,
an hour) are more suspenseful than scenes which take place over several days or weeks
(and might deserve a lower # of paragraphs to describe them).

5.  Throw in a "button" or "hook" at the end of each chapter - in order to keep your
reader from closing the book and going to sleep when the chapter ends, toss in a
bit of information that the characters do not know at the end of each chapter. This
does not have to be a huge crisis, but it should be interesting enough to make the
reader say, "OK, just one more chapter," and turn the page.

unmodified source

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