Adult Program Story by Jacqui Halpin
Jack Heath, well-known action writer and author of over 20 books for various ages, gave a lesson on writing tension. He’s more than qualified to talk about this subject if the pieces he read from his own books was anything to go by!
Jack taught us that escalation is the key to increasing your story tension. Don’t have all your tension at the start of a story. Build it up as the story goes.
Although it is important to start on a high with a certain amount of drama. Start your story in the right place which is not necessarily at the start of the story. If you start at the very beginning of a story you have nowhere to go but forward. If you start further in, you can go backwards or forwards.
Look at other people’s books. Could the story have started in a better spot with more tension?
Ways to build tension.
1. Let the reader know what is at stake if the hero fails. Even if it’s only the reader and not the main character that knows.
2. Suspense/Suspense/Surprise. Make the reader think something is going to happen, then make something completely different happen. Something they weren’t expecting. This is a good narrative device that works across all genres.
3. Character. The tension is always going to be higher if the reader likes and empathises with the character.
Tips for making a character likeable:
You can also increase the tension in a story by using the right language and tone.
Pacing is important, too. Write the slow stuff fast and the fast stuff slow.
Equally important is keeping the reader’s attention. Humour is a good way to do this and can, at times, be used instead of tension to keep the reader interested.
This workshop was really informative and entertaining. Jack certainly had our attention right the way through.
Jacqui Halpin is author of Parmesan the Reluctant Racehorse, and other Australian stories.
Read more about Jacqui at jacquihalpin.com
Blogging Team 2017