1. Travis Perry says:

    Good article!

  2. Autumn Grayson says:

    One thing that really helps me is making sure that everything has a purpose(preferably multiple purposes), and that the scene is always heading toward the goals I have for the story…both in terms of plot and what I want readers to understand about the characters. Of course authors can’t always predict how their readers will react to things, but over time they’ll at least get the general idea. This might help the author realize that it might be boring to have a scene where only one or two little things are happening. Instead, scenes should often be layered with multiple actions or issues the chars are trying to figure out. These should usually be realistic or even subtle, though, so as not to clutter the scene.

    Keeping all that in mind helps cultivate a mindset that is better at cutting fluff and presenting the story in a way that makes everything seem relevant and significant. At that point, some of the tension can simply be in terms of the readers wondering how the details of one scene will influence things down the road.

    Another thing is learning how to truly put one’s self in the shoes of both the readers and the characters. Understanding how someone that knows nothing about the story will react while reading it for the first time helps. As for the characters, we have to remember that, as authors, WE often know how long chars are going to live, or what’s on the other side of a door they’re about to open, but the character doesn’t. He’s just living his life trying to make the best decisions he can. Even if he’s in a situation where he’s pretty sure of the outcome, he doesn’t know 100%, so just about anything can happen. Authors need to imagine what it would actually be like for a character dealing with that reality. That takes a lot of time, because it’s easy to accidentally interpret our characters in light of our own experiences, knowledge and beliefs, rather than the ones the char would actually live with. Or, having lived comfy civilian lives, we might not truly understand what it’s actually like to be in a desperate situation.

    I usually edit as I go, basically combing over each scene repeatedly until I’m satisfied. I still often move on to the next scene before the previous one is completely edited, but I often at least read over what I worked on the previous day and make any corrections that come to mind, along with making sure the next scene is consistent with details in the previous one.

  3. Digi says:

    I think the idea of investing every page of a novel with tension is a ridiculous idea that does not mirror reality, but feeds our culture’s dependence on contrived drama. There is nothing “noble” or “good” about real life anymore.

    • Autumn Grayson says:

      Like she said in her post, tension doesn’t have to mean conflict. Contrived drama is ridiculous, but there needs to be something worthwhile happening in the scene. That could simply be an interesting situation that invokes curiosity, and the tension can come from trying to figure out how the situation ends up/seeing where it goes. Exactly how that happens is up to the author, whether it occurs through ‘noble’ or ‘real life’ situations or something dark and dramatic. There’s merit to both approaches, and reasons why it’s good for authors to be able to write both if they so choose.

What do you think?