As I write and re-write this novel, I’m constantly drawing on the wealth of information that I earned while writing my previous novel(s). I’m especially struck by the idea of tension, and how to use conflict and tension to build suspense and draw the reader into the story.
You see, when I first started writing, I just wrote whatever came into my mind for my characters to do. They’d go places and do things and generally have a grand old time until the Big Baddie showed up towards the end. I couldn’t figure out why my story felt slow and floppy, like nothing was happening.
And then I read this blog post:
…and my whole life changed.
I realized that every chapter in my story should buzz with tension. Besides just the BIG PLOT tension, there should be secondary conflicts and plot arcs, and even tertiary ones as well. My story should be layered, full of smaller problems for my characters to face as they work towards the Big Problem of the story.
In the aforementioned blog post, the writer suggests taking basically every scene and stripping it down, looking for ways to up the stakes and up the tension.
So. I learned all of that while editing my last novel, trying to go back and add tension and conflict into the weak parts of my story.
It’s been so great to know about tension as I write THIS novel. For example, this past week, I was writing a scene where two characters meet in person for the first time. Already pretty high tension, but then I was thinking: what if I added a dragon?
I was setting out to write this scene, thinking, what else could go wrong? So I set loose a dragon. A baby dragon stows away in the main character’s backpack, and gets loose just as the two characters are meeting. She causes a bit of chaos, making the whole scene 100% more interesting and tension-charged.
So that’s my advice for you: if you’re feeling bored with the chapter/ scene that you’re working on, try upping the stakes. Or creating a misunderstanding between two characters. Or making something unexpectedly go wrong. Or setting loose a dragon.