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July 09, 2010


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Ferget it Donna, not goin' ta work on anything tense today!

Now, I do like it when I want to find out what happens next, but if the tension and ramping up is too extreme, I find myself skim reading to reach the next event.

I haven't decided if that be a good thing for the author or not. Means I finish faster and may decide to reread the book to get at all the stuff I sorta skipped...and I'm more likely to head for the next book if it's a series.

Maybe. Sometimes, I'm too emotionally strung out to find that author someone I want to read again.

I'm all about the entertainment and relaxation factor lately!

Donna Cummings

Maureen, I know what you mean about "tense". LOL But "tension" is actually another word for "conflict", and since I seem to like euphemisms for things I am trying to avoid (i.e., Bleak Moment rather than Black Moment), tension works for me.

I also think it has a lot to do with a character that you CARE about -- the tension definitely rises when I'm reading about a character I've invested in emotionally.

Now, let's go relax. LOL


I always wonder about comedy and the idea of tension...does give a different feeling to the nuances. Tension isn't all about the life and death stuff...sometimes it's not finding the flavor of ice cream you crave in stock at Baskin Robbins.

Donna Cummings

Exactly -- it's not just about life-and-death things. (Great analogy with the ice cream!)

For example, I remember reading a book a million years ago. I think it was called "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris", and she was a British charwoman who saved all her hard-earned money so she could go to Paris and buy a couture gown. Nothing life-or-death there, but I desperately WANTED her to get that dress! There was all kinds of tension wondering if she'd get enough money, be able to get away from work, etc.

So she finally gets to go, and she makes it to the couture house -- and the guy in charge wouldn't let her buy anything! She wasn't their typical customer or something like that.

She goes outside and starts crying, and I was heartbroken too! Just because she couldn't get a DRESS. LOL But obviously the dress meant more than that, and that's why the readers cared. And of course then the tension was about if she would find a way around this obstacle.

Whew, I'm sure longwinded today! Anyway, that's an example of something bad happening to somebody you care about, but it's not a life-or-death situation.


Tension in writing. Tension in dancing. Tension is my life :-)

Donna Cummings

LOL, Colby -- sometimes I think the only thing holding everyone together is the tension! If it were taken away. . .aaaugh!


There is probably some law of physics that supports that supposition!

Donna Cummings

Who wants to be the first to test it out? LOL


Can't wait to read these articles! I love the way you describe successfully creating tension as the reader, "...zipping through it like the ending is written in disappearing ink and the last few pages are already starting to fade." Love that! And isn't it incredible this could happen with a book with a known happy ending?

Donna Cummings

Melissa, I hope you enjoy the articles. I found them useful because of the way they explained the topic and gave examples that made the concept more concrete.

I'm glad you liked MY description of tension. LOL

I actually experienced it with Toni Blake's "One Reckless Summer". The tension nearly killed me! I kept checking the spine to make sure it said "Romance", but I believe it said "Fiction", which increased my anxiety about the outcome. I kept telling myself I'd FOUND it in the Romance section at Borders. LOL But until I finished the last page, I wasn't going to assume anything!

Les Edgerton

Donna, I just wanted to thank you for the shout-out of my posting on tension on my blog. I'm just glad you found it helpful for your own writing.

BTW, I recommend studying Linwood Barclay's novels for a master's course in how to create and sustain tension. Particularly his thriller, TOO CLOSE TO HOME. But, all of his novels employ what Don Maass has labeled "micro tension." Good stuff.

I'm adding your blog to my own bloglist on mine.

Thanks again!

Blue Skies,
Les Edgerton

Donna Cummings

Les, thanks for stopping by! And I'm flattered you added my blog to yours -- that was very generous of you.

I'm a big fan of Donald Maass, and I try to incorporate the microtension in my writing. I'll also definitely check out Linwood Barclay's books, since it's great to see that sort of concept in action.

Looks like I'm going to seek out your books as well -- I know I'm going to learn a lot. :)

Thanks again for visiting!

Clarissa Southwick

Thanks for the recommendations. I'm going to check them out now.

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