Tension

Analysis

How Three Book Series Kept Readers Interested

A spacecraft burning toward a futuristic city. Writing a single novel is hard enough, and writing an entire series is notoriously difficult. It’s so difficult that when I published a post on tips for writing sequels, some commenters responded with the equivalent of “don’t.” In particular, it’s a real challenge to maintain … read more »
Storytelling

How to Pace Your Story

A surfer and swordfish fly out of a book's pages While stories use multiple methods of engaging audiences, conflict and tension are probably the most essential for longer stories. What we call pace is the timing and intensity of that conflict and tension throughout. A pace that’s too low will put an audience to sleep, … read more »
Writing

Narration Makeover: Creating Tension

Mark Watney from The Martian digging himself out of some Martian soil We’ve discussed creating tension at a big-picture level many times. However, it’s not enough to have a big-picture plan; tension must also be brought out in the narration. While the bestselling books I critique almost always have tense narration covered, manuscripts often don’t. Let’s help … read more »
Storytelling

Five Common Reasons Tension Is Missing

kitten yawning over book You’ve added lots of conflict to your story, but readers are still telling you it’s boring. What gives? Unfortunately, a number of different things can cause this problem. To help you troubleshoot, let’s go over some common reasons that tension might be missing.