Monday, October 1, 2012

Tension Levels for Two (or One)

Ever read a book where the main character is really two main characters? Something like a split personality. This creates interesting opportunities for tension throughout the story rather than smaller instances where one character vacillates between choices or comes into conflict with other characters. I’m listening to an audio book of Stephenie Meyer, the host. Here a ‘soul’ has taken over a ‘body’, so one character becomes two. I’m a quarter way through it and find the tension between the two interesting and a good study in employing different levels of tension within the same character.

A friend of mine recently posted about the tension between two characters and I’m going to use Canda Mortensen’s list.
  • Tension created by conflicting character goals.
  • Inward thoughts are opposite of the outward actions and words toward another character.
  • The outcome is unknown because the characters are equally passionate about their position.
  • The interactions changes one of their lives.
  • Leave the scene with the definite feeling that it’s not over when it’s over.

In the host, the‘soul’ and the ‘body’ definitely possess conflicting goals, one’s inward thoughts are opposite of the other’s outward actions, they are equally passionate most of the time, and there is cause to wonder if one will change her life because of the other. The scene endings are also great. That covers the above ways of creating tension and we’re only talking about one/two characters. Anyway, I’m recognizing ways to add tension, to utilize in my own writing, and multiple levels at once have captured my attention. Good books help good writing.

Keep it tense with small spaces of rest or a breather between and you’ll keep readers turning those pages!

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