Dos and Don’ts for Creating Tension
Tension is the interplay of conflicting elements in fiction. It is the anticipation of upcoming events due to curiosity or concern for the character.
Conflict arises from the opposing goals the protagonist and antagonist have and the obstacles the antagonist provides for the protagonist. This conflict leads to tension, which keeps readers turning pages to find out what happens next. Will the hero win in the end? Will they overcome all obstacles? This is your tension in your story so let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts for building tension.
DO: Do keep tension going throughout. Meaning introduce a new element of tension when the previous tension has been resolved. So when your hero overcomes an obstacle, give him another problem to deal with.
DON’T: Don’t make obstacles too easy. Really let your hero struggle and fail. If he wins every time, there’s no question he’ll win in the end and if there’s no question, there’s no need to keep reading.
DO: Do have characters who argue or don’t get along. We disagree with people all the time in real life and it gets boring when all your characters are perfectly chummy. Have your main characters disagree about something to add more tension to your story.
DON’T: Don’t let things wrap up too easily or too soon. The point of tension is the anticipation from an event, so don’t resolve lines of tension too early, leaving readers with no other questions to be answered. Let anticipation build and introduce another obstacle when one’s been overcome. Make the reader wait to find out how it went.
These should help you build tension, making your story into a page turner. What story did tension best in your opinion? Share below and happy writing.
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