What Did You Learn?

May 25, 2010

General Writing: Heightening the Tension

Filed under: General Writing — Tags: , — ax20 @ 4:23 pm

Tension is a key part of any story. Who wants to read about nothing but happiness? It’s just not that interesting.

One way that you can heighten the tension is to build detail in a scene. The particular details are key of course–the feeling in the air, the expression on someone’s face, the way they are standing, noises in the air, the weather, etc. Shorter words and sentences speed up the pace.

Another option is to create danger. This could be literal danger (explosions and bullets) or it could be something more subtle (like a character’s secret is close to being discovered). This forces your character to act–desperately, usually.

Small spaces are also a good idea. What would be most tense–being stuck with an ex outdoors, in a room, or in an elevator? The less space, the less ability to hide and/or escape.

Time limits are another a excellent way to increase tension. When time is running out, everything gets the sense of now or never.


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