Feet to the Flame–Maintaining Tension

In last night’s novel writing class we discussed keeping the stakes high for the main character. High stakes can be made higher by a variety of methods: adding in a time limit, throwing your character into a natural disaster on top of his other problems, and making the present problem bigger, more significant or more ironic. The higher the stakes of the novel, the more your character must risk to achieve his goal. The more tension you add, the more anxious readers are to find out what happens.
Writing Tip for Today: Think of a box with your character in it. The box is the story. If you keep shrinking the options for your character, the box gets smaller. Soon the character is forced to act–no wiggle room. Then turn up the heat, using one of the higher stakes methods above. To increase the stakes, try using the “What if?” method. Ask yourself “what if” and add in to your story line plausible answers to the question. Happy writing!

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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