Learning how to create narrative tension in a story is key to writing a gripping, unputdownable book that sets your writing apart from the pack. Here are three writing tips to create tension that will keep your readers flipping the pages faster than Mario Andretti could zip around the track!
Tip # 1: Create Conflict to Match Your Characters
No matter the size, conflict associated with your character must matter. For instance, if you have a protagonist that wants to sneak out of town to attend party, a likely conflict would be an argument with one’s parents that keeps them from achieving their future goals. Or it could be as large as the fate of the world resting in the palm of your character’s hands, but an evil villain has them locked up as the time ticks closer to the end of the world. The key is that conflict must relate to and put at risk what matters the most to your character.
Tip #2: Create Characters with Opposing Goals
Not every character in your story needs to be, or should be, likeable. In fact, some of our favorite characters are those with loath…Katherine Pierce from The Vampire Diaries or The Joker from Batman quickly comes to mind. Oh, how we love and hate these characters all at the same time. Developing characters we hardly (or never) relate to is equally as engaging as creating those we do. The key here is that characters with opposing personalities is a great way to build tension, even fireworks, in a story that keeps readers flipping to the next page.
Tip #3: Raise the Stakes
Have you ever read a story where the protagonist is simply to perfect, or too good at what they do? If so, I bet you felt let down because it should never be just that easy. In good fiction writing, our characters fail, and fail A LOT. This creates points of rising conflict throughout your story. A good rule to follow is the rule of threes: there should be two failing attempts to solve a problem before the third successful one that improves their situation.
Get out there and burn some rubber, word players! Time to #CreateYourEpic.