Build More Tension in Your Story
While tension in a story can be tested by reviewing pace (see Overall Chapter Pacing), you can also make sure your story doesn't lag in the middle due to tension not ramping up. If action rises and falls along a flat plane rather than rising and falling with incremental increases, the center of the story can feel repetitious and as if nothing is really moving forward. The way to correct this is to make sure the tension is building with each conflict.
For example, in a romance novel, tension may build between the main character as the love interest in the following ways:
In the example above, a "first fight" is often disregarded in a relationship, especially if it's a new relationship as a minor tiff or lover's quarrel indicative of nothing in the bigger scheme of love. When friends bring evidence to the table, though, doubts may be sewn in the main character's mind but then also rationalized as if the friends are jealous. But when the best friend gives hard evidence, the main character now has to make some decision that is going to bring the conflict to the cusp of the climax. Each conflict ramps up the discord in the main character's heart.
For this exercise, you will need to think about all the ways you are causing discord between your main character and one of the following: their self, a secondary character(s), the antagonist, or the reader. You will be able to use your Chapter Summary for this exercise, but will also be creating another worksheet. For this worksheet, you will be moving to the Developmental Edit section of the notebook because we are starting to crystallize the story.
Exercise: Create a Tension Worksheet
Analysis of your conflict
After you have ranked all your scenes with conflict, you can ask yourself the following questions to see if you need to make repairs.
Methods you can consider for fixing or adding more tension
DOWNLOAD: Tension From Conflict Worksheet
Tips for working by hand
If you created the Conflict worksheet earlier, you can use highlighters to either highlight the items indicated in the instructions or eliminate them. (Do whichever offers the least amount of work and color on the page.) Add a rank column wherever you can squeeze it in. Maybe at the front of the columns you first created or the end. If you don't have much room, consider using a different colored pen or pencil for marking the rank.
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Go to Day 15 - Character Arcs