Today, I'm returning to the topic of writing tension into your stories. Why add tension? I'm writing (pick your genre which you don't think needs tension) and say, "I don't need tension." I disagree.Why Add Tension
Readers like it when they can't put a book down. We've all read those stories, you're turning the pages, physically or virtually, and you tell yourself, when I finish this chapter I will:
Like I've said before, I read a lot of the Lee Child, Jack Reacher, series. Lee Child is excellent at raising tension and keeping it high throughout the novel. You might say, yeah, but he writes thrillers and I write romance. Romance doesn't need tension. I disagree. A friend in my writer's group writes romance and she's an excellent writer, but her stories are missing that tension. She starts out great, with a plot that could guarantee tension, but she releases the tension too soon.
Imagine your POV character meets a handsome man. They talk, maybe have dinner, there's a disagreement, or he makes an off-putting statement and the POV gets upset and they part. My friend likes for there to be a happy get back together quick either before the chapter ends or definitely by the end of the next chapter. I recommend she not re-connect the two so quickly. Make them stew. Let's find out what he's thinking about the argument. Let's dig deeper into character, into the plot, or even the theme. Show us how the environment where the story takes place can disrupt your happy ending to the chapter.
Let her talk it over with her friends. They can burrow deep into the argument and then she might say, oh I over-reacted and plans to hook back up with Mr. Handsome, only to find out he's not available. She thinks he's angry and is dating someone else right away, but no he has a perfectly good and rational reason for not being available. In fact, when she first makes the next contact, he's abrupt with her and that makes her angry, too.
Depending how you lay out the story, your reader may be on Mr. Handsome's side or with the POV character's side. But you've planted seeds of doubt and now there's tension in the story and it will require a minimum of one more chapter before your reader can breathe and go to bed.Ways to Increase Tension in a Scene