Category Archives: Tension

There Will Be Blood

This is something I say to almost every writer: Make no mistake, there WILL be blood! No, I’m not referring to the movie. Or even to literal blood. But to the fact that if what happens in your plot doesn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Character Wound, Characters, Emotion, Empathy, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 14 Comments

Use Theme to Determine Subplots, Supporting Characters, and Tension

I recently spoke at the Storymakers conference in Utah, and while I was there, I attended a class on theme. Theme is kind of an ethereal topic, difficult to grasp and even harder to apply. But I was blown away … Continue reading

Posted in Plotting, Tension, Theme, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

How to Write an Effective Scene with One Stop for Writers’ Formal Scene Map

When it comes to story structure, writers seem to fall into one of three camps: they love it, hate it, or are completely confused by the many iterations of it. With this third group, it’s understandable. Are there 3 Acts, … Continue reading

Posted in One Stop For Writers, Plotting, Software and Services, Story Structure, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

Three Ways The Setting Can Steer Your Story’s Plot

The setting is a powerful force. Not only does it evoke mood, create tension and conflict, allow you to share critical backstory in a non-dumpy way, and draw readers deeper into the story through powerful sensory detail…it can also steer … Continue reading

Posted in Description, Mood and Atmosphere, Plotting, Setting, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 Comments

3 Tips To Creating A Time Bomb Plot Device

One of the things we always want as writers is to keep readers engaged, to hold their interest all the way from Page One to The End. The Ticking Time Bomb scenario can be really effective for this, and Jonathan Vars … Continue reading

Posted in High Stakes, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

What’s the Dark Night Moment All About?

You’re coming to the end of the tunnel, and you see a bright light illuminating the finish line. You are almost through writing your novel! If you’ve done your homework, you’ve carefully worked out the big build to the exciting … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Fear, High Stakes, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft | 5 Comments

What Does It Mean To “Raise the Stakes”?

Yay! I’m happy to be back at WHW as a Resident Writing Coach. *waves* Last time I visited, we discussed how understanding the interconnectedness of our story elements can help us with revisions, and today we’re going to dig deeper … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, High Stakes, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 26 Comments

How To Accurately Write About Your Character’s Pain

The best thing about this online world of ours is you never know who you are going to meet. I don’t know about you, but one of the areas I struggle with is writing a character’s pain in a way … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Description, Emotion, Empathy, Fear, Guest Post, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 23 Comments

Mastering Stylistic Tension

One of the first things writers learn is to start a story with conflict. Some writers have bombs go off. Others start with a death. Or a break-up. But over the years, looking at unpublished material, I’ve learned and relearned … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

Generic Settings Won’t Do: Choose Locations That Have Emotional Value

As writers, we try to draw readers fully into each scene. Not only do we want them to picture what’s happening, we want them to feel as if they are sharing the POV (point of view) character’s experience. Shared experiences … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Description, Empathy, Experiments, Fear, Mood and Atmosphere, Motivation, Pacing, Setting, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 9 Comments