No matter what genre you write it is always good to get the reader on the edge of their seat, flipping pages late into the night. But how do we do this? Is there a touch of magic to it, a secret coveted by the bestsellers? Not really. When you get down to it, it's pretty simple. Writing a page turner is all about infusing it with tension. Easier said than done, I know. Allow me to demystify it for you a bit.
The world does not have to be in peril for there to be tension in your novel, nor does anyone's life have to be at stake. Though if that's in there too, that's all well and good. The kind of tension I'm talking about is simpler than that. For young adult writers it can be the girl who is sweating as the boy she's crushing on sits down next to her on the bus. She may start biting her nails, fidgeting with her hair. Her heart will be racing faster, she'll be worried about how she looks, smells, what she wore. The tension could be as simple as will he talk to her before the bus comes to her stop.
To put it another way, a woman is sitting waiting for her husband to come home. When he does she hears the car door slam, followed by the front door, his lunchbox clatters to the counter making a terrible ruckus. He curses as he removes his shoes and throws his keys on the table. Immediately we know something is up and we're wondering what is going to happen. The big tension in the book is what makes people pick it up and take it home. But it's the micro-tension on every page that keeps them reading and will make them buy the next book. Tell me, how do you add tension, conflict, or interest to your writing?
Microtension! So important. I didn't know what that was when I started writing, but it's such a big thing to learn.ReplyDelete
Me neither Lydia. The understand came the more I wrote. :)Delete
As my mother is fond of saying, "It's always something!" She should be a writer! :) When it comes to tension, there always has to be something going on that just doesn't feel right or might upset the apple cart or, like you said, creates stakes, small or large. Some of my favorite tension genrators are things going on that the protag doesn't know about but the reader does.ReplyDelete
Yes... excellent tension when the reader knows what the protagonist doesn't.Delete
I initially thought tension was the external drama;fast and hard. But it can be slow as the clock that says tick... tick... tick... on the wall. Or as soft as the lips that are a breath away for that first time.ReplyDelete
Tension can be found so many places.
Exactly! Well put Karlene. :)Delete
I saw this and thought of the message on my facebook page where a friend of mine who is reading my second book said she couldn't put my book down, but had to go to bed! Hah!ReplyDelete
Tension is the key and just as all of you have stated, the minor things, like someone new placing a hand at the small of my character's back making one wonder what will he do next because this character is unpredictable. Every little problem, something said in dialogue, a problem big or small, something to surmount will be all you need and you need it on every page.
That's wonderful about your friend reading your book, love that! And yes, the small things add so much to a novel, well said.Delete
I always think of tension as Poe's the Telltale Heart. The thump, thump, thump that builds the story and leads to the pivotal point. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as that tale, but it does have to be as gripping.ReplyDelete
Love that, yes!Delete
trekking your blog!!!ReplyDelete