Feet to the Flame–Maintaining Tension

Posted on April 17, 2009. Filed under: high stakes, novel writing, tension in fiction, what if? |

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!


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3 Responses to “Feet to the Flame–Maintaining Tension”

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Hi Linda, I enjoyed your tip for the day, well said! I’m wondering if you could drop me a note at my email address? miralee at gorge dot net
I’d like to speak to you about our ACFW Portland chapter. Thanks!

Miralee Ferrell

So true, I am writing at the moment and your post came up as connected, and I found in interesting, although my characters need to sit in their box and behave themselves.

Hi there,
I apologize for not checking this blog often as I should. I do most of my blogging on blogger: htpp://godsonggrace.blogspot.com (Linda Clare’s Writer’s Tips) and Miss Writerly Crankypants, a funny take on the writing life. Thanks for your comment! Linda

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