Can I just pat myself on the back for a second?
The paperbacks of Double Blind arrived yesterday, and I’m reading it…
What can I say? I like paper, and I like my writing.
Anyway 2/3 of the way down page 41, Mr. Dilger hears a noise as he’s alone in his warehouse. He thinks it could be a burglar. By the end of page 44 he’s still on edge about it. That’s 4 pages of tension – that I added just to have more tension before he gets killed.
More tension, and it adds length to the story.
Tension drives stories.
Readers love tension, and DB is full of tension.
(So was The Navigators and so was Poggibonsi. An Angel On Her Shoulder had a lot of tension, too; just a different kind.)
All stories have, or should have, lots of tension. In a romance, the tension is about whether the main characters will get together, so don’t let them get together too easily. In an action story, there should be lots of hurdles for Indiana Jones to jump over to get the lost ark. You get the idea.
Tension is everywhere in most good stories, and once you see it, you see it everywhere.
Then you can add it to your own work and suddenly it starts to be a lot more un-put-down-able.
So if you need / want additional length (sorry if that sounds like a commercial for a men’s product) ADD scenes that ADD tension.
We talked about this recently, about how in Shakespeare In Love, the guy stammered for 40 seconds at the big moment, the start of the play. Same thing.
I did the same thing in Double Blind when the killer was looking for the jogger, his second victim. I had him not find the jogger too quickly. It wasn’t as effective there, btw, but it was still very good. Once we know a murder is about to happen, draw it out. Readers love it and they’re excited so they’re reading at a fast pace anyway – so it goes by quickly.
Don’t just get there. Set it up, let us know what’s coming, then draaaaag it out. Dragging it out while writing isn’t dragging it out at all when reading. It’s savoring. And if it’s well written, it goes by fast.
2 thoughts on “Draaag out the tension!”
Is there a difference between tension (say between characters) and suspense?
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Suspense is a form of tension.