"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Session #5: Suspense, Tension, and All-Around Trouble


Hi Mom and Dad and Tootles,

I can hardly wait to share what I learned this week at camp from Coach Sol! It’s the key to writing a book that a reader can’t put down. It’s what makes a story great. It’s…are you ready? Are you really really ready?

Maybe I’ll tell you in my next letter…

Just kidding—it’s suspense!

Coach Sol said that suspense is achieved by arousing the reader’s curiosity and keeping it aroused for as long as possible. He told us NOT to rescue our hero/heroine. Instead, make their problem bigger. Don’t eliminate danger, and don’t let our characters overcome immediate danger without going through a greater danger. Is there an unwanted confrontation my character is dreading? I should put it off as long as I can. Other suspense tactics include bringing an old fear into the present. Or making my character’s actions backfire.

Coach also told us to avoid taking the reader where he/she wants to go. Use those cliffhangers at the end of scenes and chapters. Talk about fun!

Writers are troublemakers. That’s our job! (I knew I was gifted in that area for a reason….) Coach told us to increase the tension in our stories by stretching out intense scenes by adding characters or difficulty. Don’t be afraid to stretch!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a little trouble with what’s left of summer!


Love You Guys!
          Your Very Own Rabble-Rouser



Is there a deliciously naughty part of you that loves making trouble in YOUR stories? How do you make the most out of tension when you write? 

8 comments:

  1. This made me giggle. :) I think sometimes I tend to heap a bit too much trouble on my characters, so much so that it borders on believability (at first, anyway). Of course, a great story HAS to have suspense and conflict, and sometimes all the factors coming together at once might not happen in real life. But that's what makes it a good story, imo.

    Loving this series. You're so cute! :)

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! Probably better to lean toward more conflict than risk boring the reader. I agree!

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  2. This is one area I'm working on! When I first started to write I realized I liked to wrap each problem up in a nice little package at the end of each chapter, but now I know that's the wrong way to write a good book! Thanks for the reminder today, Rabble-Rousers!

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    1. No problem, Gabrielle! Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I definitely think I could ramp up the conflict in my stories but I try to stretch out those moments by prolonging tension on each page. Still...I like my characters to be happy and in love so sometimes I go a little easy on them.

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    1. I loved your blog today and the idea to increase tension where there is less conflict. Thanks Cindy!

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  4. Oh yeah, I'm definitely addicted to conflict in my stories. :) One of my crit partners is a genius at chapter-ending hooks. I always think I'm going to stop after reading a particular chapter and then, wham!, she throws something at me and makes me keep reading. :)

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    1. Love that, Sarah! I'm reading the first Hardy Boys with my kids. We do a chapter a night. But every time at the end, they are dying for me to read more. Great lesson for me!

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