Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Tension lies at the center of any story a writer may choose to tell. And, what draws your tension tight? Some kind of desire that is unfulfilled, unmet, and appears may never be fulfilled.

So, the axis of your story, that which everything else moves about, basically, is a character who wants something, but for all sorts of reasons you've come up with, can't get it. The key here is as soon as your character gets what he wants, achieves his goal, the story is complete, the tale over.

So, when you as the writer resolve one problem in your story, that lesser resolution must be within the escalation of the greater plot.

While the writer needs to begin his or her story with some kind of a hook, something to engage the reader, you don't want to fall into the trap of throwing out an exciting hook, then following it with an information dump that goes on for pages and from the outset kills the forward momentum. 

So, if you're going to use that catchy hook, be sure to design it well so your story escalates, moves forward instead of crashing into the muck. You can't have your readers thinking "things aren't so bad" or you've lost that forward thrust, the momentum that keeps the reader reading.

What really drives your story forward.  Think about it.  What is it that keeps things rolling.  Is it the fact that it's a "character-driven" story?  No. what really moves things is that goal your main character is striving for, that desire he has that he's willing to do most anything to fulfill.

The reader has to know what the stakes are, what the main character will gain or achieve, what he's reaching for, in order for him to keep reading.  He doesn't care about car chases or fascinating characters until he has a reason to and that reason is, "what does the character want that he doesn't have and what will he do to try to get it."  
The story is driven forward by escalating tension, not events that happen.  Consider you favorite books and movies.  Have you been captivated only by the fascinating characteristics of the main character, or was it something more - the challenges he faced, the goals he reached for and what prevented him from doing so?

It's tension, unknowing, suspense.  So, while you write your novel ask yourself frequently, "how can I make things worse for my hero/heroine?"  Consider the emotional, physical and relationships. Find ways to organically force your hero/heroine into a more and more impossible situation.  To make things worse and worse until there is seemingly no solution - then, brilliant writer that you are, create a resolution that is both surprising and satisfying to your reader.

Your intent is to keep your reader turning the pages, waiting eagerly for your next novel. When the events you pen are naturally caused by the one before it, the story makes sense and as the characters move forward in a convincing quest for their goals the story grows more and more believeable and those characters' struggles with their obstacles deepen the tension and keep the reader reading. 

And in the end, that's your goal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Other Posts Of Interest:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...