Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tension


Your stomach clenches. You gnaw at your fingernails. A cool sweat covers your skin. You blink, like a maniac. Maybe even pant a little bit. Who knows?

Tension.

We all know what it feels like in real life. Heck, we wouldn't be human if we didn't experience tension. Some of us are even pretty boss at creating tension. Don't drop your eyes, you know who you are ; )

I'm probably not alone when I say I hate tension. I hate arguing and feeling uncomfortable. I hate yelling and anything resembling anxiety...stress...worry. But in a book, well now, I say bring it. And since the undercurrent of my blog is writing that's where my focus will shift.

I ask you this...can a book have too much tension? So much that you end up doing a few eye rolls and say aloud, "Oh please!" How much is too much? How do you know? Don't you wish I had a clear cut answer to those two key questions? I wish. But I have some good news and it involves my gut. Nice eh?

See, my gut is telling me that the answers lie in industry readers (BETA, agent, editor, etc...). Allow them to gauge, critique and comment. When I hear or read professional feedback indicating too much tension, my first reaction is to question...myself...not the reader. I question my initial motivation for including the tension. I question the effect it had on the character. I question if I really do need it or if it was just there for a bit of cheap drama.

When I peel back the top layer of my writing and look inside, reflecting upon my (and my characters') motivation, it really helps me to either justify the tension or chop it the hell out. It is actually quite refreshing, sort of like a crisp fall breeze blowing my hair back as I frolic in a pile of leaves. I kid. I would never frolic in a pile of leaves because it would increase my chances of coming face to face with a spider. And I hate spiders. See my sidebar list of Things I Hate...

Oh, tension and spiders...why do you taunt me so?

I'd love to read your thoughts on tension...too much tension...comment away...