Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writing Tips: Building Tension in Stories

After meeting with a new writer about her work of fiction, I had some comments to help her develop her book and its characters. Since her story is a romance I thought I would pick out some of the tips I gave her to help others.

Building sexual tension between characters requires patience. This young writer had her lovers roll in the proverbial hay too fast. Their aggressive pursuit of each other sparked and happened within pages. Instant gratification either needs to be a part of the story somehow or it should be delayed to keep readers turning pages to find out and discover.

The "hurry-up-and-get-there" weakness. I see writers do this all of the time. They want to finish their stories and they want to get to the "hot" stuff way too fast. It's like being a reader who can't wait and flips to the end. Problem is when the author rushes to write the story all of those in-between pages suddenly don't exist. Writing takes patience in the author too. Developing the characters and story should be "paced" not rushed.

Character development and place go together. I had a lot of fun with this one and this author's work. It's important to use every piece of narrative to your advantage when you write. Use your character's behavior in a place or setting to convey something about that character.  In this case, the author's character was a neat and orderly woman. So, when describing her home the author had an opportunity to use her home as the way to convey these character traits. For example, don't just describe the sofa. Have the character straighten a pillow on the sofa before leaving for work. You got what kind of sofa the character owns and you convey her neat nature.

My company 3L Publishing does one-on-one coaching with individual authors. It's the best hands-on approach to learning how to properly write either fiction or nonfiction. We enjoy mentoring individuals and making their stories come to life. If you would like more information, please contact us at 916-300-8012 or send email to We would be glad to set up a consultation to discuss your project.

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