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5 Ways to Add Tension to Your Story

5 Ways to add tension to my story

Here I want to examine specific ideas which would fit seamlessly into my story. I should do a close reading and determine which additions would be consistent with the themes I have built. How well can these be woven into the overall plot of the story? Do they help build towards a climax or move the story along constructively in other ways? Another use for this practice is to find the right amount of tension. Are you satisfied with the level of tension in your story? By adding and removing you can make adjustments here and there until it tastes just right.

Take one of your stories and try this technique too. Did it help? Do you have a similar technique that works for you?

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1. Competition

My protagonist ‘John’ is attracted to a woman. By adding another character to compete with him for her attention I could introduce tension. How does John feel about the idea of losing her? How does John react to what the other person does and says? How does his behavior change because of the presence of competition? Alternatively, does the woman have a job or a family member whom John has to compete with? Would that create guilty feelings in John for wondering if he is being selfish?

2. Work Stress

John has an important position at work. I might have something bad happen on the job. Perhaps an accident occurs where John has to split his attention from his current assignment to help out. Someone could file a complaint or lawsuit which would add pressure on John from both that direction and from his superiors as well. How does he handle pressure from his boss? What are the consequences to John and others if the lawsuit has merit? How can John solve the situation or prevent it from getting worse?

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3. Family Trouble

John’s sister is his closest living relative. If she is dealing with a medical condition and needs John’s help that could increase demands on him. She might refuse the help or be a difficult patient. She might have a secret that she is keeping from him causing him concern. How does he feel about his sisters actions? Does she have personality traits that get under his skin? Does he fear losing his sister because he is a widow who already suffers from the death of a loved one?

4. Grief

John has been alone since his wife died. He could have an unresolved issue related to her loss. The anniversary of her death, or their marriage might be a source of stress for him. His son might blame John for her death and act out in dangerous ways as a result, forcing John to resolve the conflict. How does he relate to a son who resists his attempts to heal their relationship? What happens when he thinks about his wife and the times they had, does he remember happy times or conflict? Is he struggling with regret?

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5. Personal Flaws

John is not perfect. He makes a mistake or forgets an important event. Now he has to deal with the aftermath. Perhaps he had to choose between two conflicting demands on his time. Why did he make the choice he did? How did having to make that choice affect him? How did the people affected respond to John’s choice? What new challenges does he have to overcome as a result?

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Elyssa Rose–Part One (Caught in the Act)

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Elyssa Rose didn’t need a man in her life. She definitely didn’t need Jaxon Crutchfield in her life. No man had ever managed to irritate her as much as this one did. Of course she knew that was his goal. He wanted her to give up on her dream. He wanted her to throw in the towel after only one month. Oh he didn’t really care about her or her dream. In fact he’d have been happy for her to pursue her dream as long as she did it in another location. He didn’t care one whit about her–he was only interested in her building.

She stood in the side window of her corner shop, pretending to rearrange a couple of flower vases while glancing across the street. She could see through the large glass window to the inside of the fitness center where a number of people were lifting…

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