Today's post is going to be on tension.

There seems to always be a thread on AW about it.

Should there be conflict on every page?

First of all, conflict and tension are very, very different. Conflict is straight out action. Someone is yelling. Someone kills killing. Someone refuses. It's conflict. Tension is different in the way that it can deal with the character internally. Perhaps the character is nervous/scared/angry/sad. That's tension, not conflict. It could even be someone holding vital information back.

So do you need conflict on every page?

Do you need tension on every page?

Should you?

It comes down to your readers. It comes down to ADHD America and what they want. Fast food is terrible for us. We all know. I've eaten fast food every day at work this week. Why? Because it fast. That's it. I can get it in five minutes, eat in the car, and still be clocked in on my "lunch break".

Americans are very much like me. Fast. They want to dive head first. Are all of them like that? No. Some of the most prestigious writers that have ever lived don't have tension on every page. That is a fact. Would people today take the time to read it if it wasn't classified as a classic/must read? I really doubt they would.

If I picked up Lord of the Rings without my father ever reading it to me as a child, would I read it? No. I don't like flowery descriptions. I don't like words upon words of world building. Sure, you need it here and there, but for the most part, I don't like seeing it. It's just like an info dump. Think of a clever way to put it into the story.

Back on track, though.

Tell me a non-tension part of your book that you love. Show me a romantic seen without fluttering hearts. An erotica scene without burning passion. Show me a fantasy scene without wonder. Show me a sci-fi scene without questions. Are they there? Yes. Should they be? That's pure opinion. I think not.

For example. Let's say you have two characters that are having a conversation. They agree on everything.

"Should we do this, Sally?"

"If you think it's best, I think it's best!"

That's that. Is it bad? No. Could it be better?

"Should we do this, Sally?" I hesitated as the words came out of his mouth. Should we? I asked myself as my palms began to sweat. Questions flooded my mind. What would father think? What would mother do? Is this best for the baby? Should we, young teenagers, really do this? God, is this all going to be okay?

"If you think it's best, I think it's best!" I agreed with him, even if I wasn't sure of myself. My heart raced as worry engulfed my body. Please let this be the best.

So if you feel your scenes are lacking, look into adding tension. How? Show internal struggles. Show depth. Put feelings into everything. If the people don't second guess each other, do they feel like it should be done one way instead of another? For example:

"Should we do this, Sally?"

"If you think it's best, but --" I let the word hang in the air. "I think we should get plane tickets instead of going on a train."

"We don't have the money for plane tickets." Bob warned me.

"Bobby, babe, you know I'm terrified of trains. Do we have the money for gas?"

"Fine. You're driving."

There's hundreds of ways of adding tension. Just think of how. Do you have to have it? No. Should you? Yes.
0 Responses
  • Followers