Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Where is the Tension?
I bring up making sure tension is in your novel today because I recently had a conversation with one of my WOW! novelist students about tension in her novel. She has a great voice. She has a great story idea. She even started in the right place, in my opinion, and her action is spot on. But TENSION was missing. She needed to add a time element to her novel--this main character had to get himself on his correct path to the future in a "certain amount of time" or "the worst thing in the whole world" would happen.
And that wasn't happening in the beginning of her novel...yet.
Think about some novels or movies where time/age is an element. Some that immediately come to mind: Speed, The Giver, and even Hunger Games--you can't be in the Hunger Games until you are 12, and then once you are there, your time limit is: everyone has to die before you.
Think of novels where a wedding is on the horizon--there's a deadline--all the problems in the novel have to be solved before the wedding.
Or amovie where someone is terminally ill. That's another kind of deadline that can cause great stress, tension, and page-turning in a novel.
Think about real life. We work on deadlines all the time--in our personal and professional life. So it is natural that novels also need these deadlines in them.
Do critique partners say that your novel is good but something is missing?
Do you have some kind of time element in your plot to cause more tension?
If not, think about adding one. If you do have one in your work-in-progress or have a published book with one, please tell us in the comments below. We want to learn from you!
Margo L. Dill is a writing coach, editor, children's author, and instructor, living in St. Louis, MO. Her next novel writing class starts on Friday, May 4. To find out more information about Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach, please click here.