Tuesday, 26 October 2010

There is no Tension in My Novel

The aspiring author may read the first draft of a novel to find that one scene merges into the next in a humdrum way without any tension in the plot. The scenes lack suspense and the characters have no motivation or drives. How can the writer create suspense in novel writing?

Writing a Thriller with Suspense

Plot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish) (Write Great Fiction)
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Before improving the novel, the writer may reflect upon the problems with the scenes in order to identify practices at fault. This will help with creating a novel that is full of suspense and compel the reader to keep turning the pages. The following may need addressing.

Allowing characters without drives to drive the story which could create a plot without pace.

Having characters within the story that have similar views and motivations.

Allowing stereotypical situations to occur within the story which could be predicted by the reader.

Having too much of one element within the novel, such as too much dialogue. Dialogue tends to quicken the pace of the story which may cause the novel to race along like a steam train without any lulls or tension build-up.

Similarly, pages full of wordy paragraphs of descriptions and passages could result in a sludgy read. Purple prose, as it is often known, is not good for a thriller or crime novel.

Again, too much action, such as blood, guts, car chases and family feuds, etc, far from creating tension will leave the poor reader feeling as though battened over the head and may even skip the pages.

Creating Conflict in Novels

Creating tension within a story often requires tightening. This means ridding of the deadwood. This could mean: characters that serve no purpose, chit-chatty discourse, wordy passages full of descriptions and weak character drives that would not flatten a lily.

Characters without drives result in a story that has no plot. Does each character have a secret or desire that means more to them than anything? Can the stakes be made even higher? For instance, a protagonist who needs money to pay a loan shark would desire the money more if raising money for bone marrow transplant for a parent.

Similarly, does each character contrast sharply with one another regarding drives, beliefs and backgrounds? Look for ways of increasing this gulf. This will create a huge tug of war between the main characters, mentally, spiritually or physically.

Writing Scenes for Novels

Does each climax within the story reach greater heights than the last? If not, consider shuffling the scenes so that the overall tension increases throughout the story.

Does every scene within the novel serve a purpose? Does each for example reveal a secret, cause embarrassment, create obstacles, reveal character or most importantly move the story forward?

Consider the length of each scene. Many authors use the technique of controlling pace by the length of each scene. Intermixing the length of scenes will keep the reader on his toes. Shorter scenes tend to move the story forward more quickly than longer scenes. Here, I used short scenes to inject punch and humour into my novel, Nora, which is also available as a blog. On this link to my blog novel, two short scenes have been spliced into the narrative to show how an intruder into a millionaire's house deters visitors from his gates.

Writing the Thriller
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Surprise the reader. Creating tension often involves surprises. This may mean revealing a secret, showing a vulnerable side to a villain (which incidentally will make the villain seem more disturbing) or creating an unexpected resolution.

Cure for a Sludgy Novel

Creating tension within a limp story often entails cutting. Clich├ęs, motiveless characters and wordy descriptions have to go. These need to be replaced with scenes that propel the story, a blend of story elements and motivated characters to create a variegated novel that will keep the reader alert.

External Links on Writing Thrillers

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