ARE YOU TENSE? Getting the Tension Out of Your Life and Into Your Story

ARE YOU TENSE? Getting the Tension Out of Your Life and Into Your Story

 
Play/Pause Episode
00:00 / 00:17:47
Rewind 30 Seconds
1X

This is a continuation of this week’s blogs about adding tension and suspense in your writing. It’s a bit short today. Sorry. Or maybe that’s a good thing….

Here goes:

Is My Voice a Little Tense?
 

Tension in writing can also come from your voice.

Not your speaking voice, but your writing voice, your style and your pacing.

Author Justine Larabeister has a series of posts on her blogs about how she alternates action-packed scenes/chapters with more introspective scenes.

Author William Reynolds calls it a roller coaster ride and says, “It works for pacing your writing as well as your scenes.”

I’ve talked about this before especially when I critique things. Sentence length and sound impact the reader’s experience of action and introspection.

While we’re having nice introspective wonderings about things to give the reader a break and/or a build-up we can have long, winding sentences wondering if anyone is actually reading this blog post at all and we can also natter on about it for a bit with no white space, and with long-long paragraphs.

But…

Action comes.

And as Reynolds points out:

“Sentences are short.

Paragraphs too.

Maybe there isn’t even time to –

Get the picture?”

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Short sentences. Short paragraphs. White space. Action verbs. That’s what makes it tense, baby.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be tense. Don’t add tension to other people’s lives. Know how your presence makes other people feel.


SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


MY LITTLE NOVELLA IS HERE.

It’s $1.99 and it’s the novel of my heart. I hope you’ll check it out.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Make Your Story Tense plus Editor Andrew Karre

This week I’m talking about tension and suspense in our writing and I am happy to announce that awhile ago I interviewed the super cool Mark Del Franco (author), Steven Wedel (author) and Andrew Karre (editor). They’ll all be appearing in posts throughout the week.


TENSION – HOW DO YOU GET IT IN YOUR STORIES?


Carol Davis Luce gives examples of how to write scenes that are full of tension.

The first is THE BIG BANG


It’s like this
: A writer is happily working away on her new manuscript when suddenly BANG! Her editor calls. He’s leaving the publishing house. He will no longer be her editor anymore. Her whole world is suddenly tilted upside down. It is disaster. Disaster, I tell you!

Wait. No, that’s what happened to me a few years ago. (Sorry, Andrew.)

Anyway, this type of scene seems peaceful. There are no warnings that something big is going to happen. There’s no build-up to the horrible event. The event just happens.

Luce says, “This type of scene lacks genuine suspense, which is best built slowly. It is, however, extremely effective when used sparingly.”

Basically, if you use it too much readers will get annoyed at you. They won’t be stunned. They’ll be groaning, or as Luce says, they’ll feel ‘cheated.’

The second example is THE JACK-IN-THE-BOX TECHNIQUE

This is when the reader knows, absolutely knows, something big is going to happen. She experiences the moments that build up to the big event. She is scared. She cares. Then it happens.

It’s like this: We see the editor hasn’t sent the writer that many emails lately. He isn’t posting as much on his blog. The writer remembers him telling her how much he’d like to pursue middle grade fiction, however his imprint is only young adult fiction. She checks his blog for news. Nothing. The teapot on the stove boils. The phone rings. The caller id shows the editor’s name. He tells her the news.

According to Luce when writing a suspense-filled book, you want to use this kind of scene. You want to vary the pace of the scene, too.



I WONDER WHAT MOMENTS

William J. Reynolds says that you should vary the size of the suspense within your novel. Not all scenes should be huge murder scenes where the suspense is large. Some should be small. He calls these the “I WONDER WHAT” moments.

Add a little physical danger and I WONDER WHAT moments become more medium sized.

Add a lot of danger and some more ambiguity and those moments become large I’VE GOT TO KNOW moments.

Examples using the book Twilight:

Small suspense moment: I wonder why that guy Belle thinks is hot is acting like such a meanie.

Medium suspense moment: I wonder how that guy that Belle thinks is hot saved her from the car that was about to crush her.

Large suspense moment: Oh, my gosh. I wonder how that guy that Belle thinks is hot isn’t going to give in and suck her blood and kill her because she is so tempting and her blood smells so good and he is a vampire after all.

Extra large suspense moment: OH!!!! NO!!! Bella is so not going to turn into a vampire on purpose, is she? What kind of crazy is that, girl?


I talked about suspense to Andrew Karre, an editor at Penguin now who has been my editor in the past.


Andrew quoted Hitchcock and said, “There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

It’s that anticipation that leads up to those jack-in-the-box moments.

Luce mentions a ‘peril detector,’ which she describes as “Something (a gut feeling, perhaps) tells her she is in danger.”

In my book, NEED, I knew I needed a peril detector. I thought of my own peril detector in real life. Whenever something bad is going to happen (Say, my editor decides to leave the publishing house) the center of my hand starts to hurt, just ache. So, for Zara, I needed something creepier, so whenever the pixie king is nearby, it feels like spiders are running all over her skin.

“I don’t have any sure-fire techniques for building suspense. It seems like suspense should come from the plot, and I’m sure it does to a degree, but the degree and impact of that suspense comes in the manner of the telling and that’s character. I find a steady barrage of big shocks will inevitably dull the reader’s senses.”

Andrew Karre

This is why it’s important to vary the pace and kind of suspense. It shouldn’t be one big shock after another. It’s important to remember about character. Steve Wedel discusses that too in one of our upcoming posts.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER? JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


MY LITTLE NOVELLA IS OUT!

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com