Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mixing It Up

Scott D. Parker

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to craft stories and I ran across one this week brand new to me.

Over on Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds site, he posted a piece by Douglas Wynne entitled “Five Things I Learned Writing Red Equinox.” Other than his take on writing who you love (nice twist), he wrote about tension in a book. Specifically, you can’t have too much.

Wynne namedropped Donald Maass and his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I’ve heard of that book before and even checked it out of the library a few years ago. I own Maass’s Writing in the 21st Century. Anyway, Wynne zeroes in on the edict of adding tension to every page. Sure, we’ve all heard that one before, but have you ever heard of this:

Now, maybe I didn’t end up with tension on every page, but at one point I shuffled a PDF of the manuscript and went through it in random order, looking at each page out of context, highlighting any tension, and asking, “what on this page makes you want to read the next one?”

It hurt. Nothing makes a manuscript look weaker than robbing it of context and momentum.

It also helped. Any changes that felt contrived, I dropped but the experiment taught me that you really can’t have too much tension or suspense.

Anyone ever done this before? Sounds like a great way to keep the momentum going. I may have to give it a go.

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