Tuesday, March 21, 2017

novels need tension.

Tension should always be rising. It might build quickly or slowly, but the story should always be moving forward so readers will want to know what’s going to happen next.
Diverse genres produce tension differently. Obviously, the main tension in a romance novel will come from whether or not the protagonist and the love interest get together. In a mystery novel, the main tension is solving the mystery or catching the criminal.
Beginners often fall flat because they’ve forgotten to focus on the main source of tension for their specific genre.
You can look to other elements to create secondary sources of tension. Your detective in a mystery novel might also be struggling with her romantic life. Just be sure you don’t let these secondary sources of tension overtake the main plot of your novel.

Novels are one scene after another.
The essential unit of a novel is the scene, each of which has a beginning, a middle and an end. By the end of a scene, something will be different. It may be a situation or just our understanding of a character but whatever it is, it's changed when the scene is over. A scene can be one character telling another something.
You have created a leapfrog outline and this is only your secret draft but is this what you want to happen next? How does the scene move the story along? What does it show readers about the characters or about the central situation? Is it entertaining?

When it's a choice between character and story, character should win every time. A chapter is a series of scenes, which combine to move the story to a new point. As with a scene, something is different at the end of a chapter. Like a scene, a chapter should end with something that makes readers want to keep going. Ending your novel is often harder than beginning it. You’ve made promises you have to keep.

Here are some points to consider when you are planning the end:
  • Do not introduce a convenient clue at the last minute. Set it up properly by going back to the beginning. If you can’t introduce the saving element sooner, get rid of it. You need to find something already in the story to make it work. 
  • Your hero should be the hero. Do not introduce some new character at the end to save your hero. Protagonists should get themselves out of trouble.
  • A bit of mystery is good, but be careful of confusion. Your readers are not stupid but don’t explain everything in one information dump at the end.
  • If you are writing in a specific genre, make sure your ending suits the genre.
  • Your ending should not be too short or too long. You can give your readers an idea of what happened to a few characters but don’t write detailed descriptions of what happened to everyone in the book.
  • The pace of the ending should suit the book.
  • No loose ends. Make sure all the sub-plots and red herrings are satisfyingly concluded.
  • Although you do not have to give your readers a happy conclusion, and sad endings are okay, try to give your readers hope.

----- (From NOVEL SECRETS available in paperback and Kindle form.) http://smarturl.it/novsec

Lary Crews