Saturday, March 20, 2021

How to Develop Tension in Your Writing by Connie Vines #RR #RR82 #WritingTips

How do you develop tension in your writing?


Thank you Robin for this month's topic :)

I believe creating tension in a novel (or short-story) is a skill which is always been honed and re-invented by an author.

The genre of fiction or even non-fiction often denotes the type of tension you develop when you are writing.  However, these are the go-to questions I ask myself when I am writing and revising my stories: 

First and foremost, your characters must be people your readers will like and relate to.

Have I created  a conflict crucial to your characters. ...

Are my characters engaging characters with opposing goals. ...

Remember to keep raising the stakes. ...

Allow tension to ebb and flow. ...

Keep making the reader ask questions. ...

Create internal and external conflict. ...

Create secondary sources of tension. ...

Make the story unfold in a shorter space of time.


Master the art of pacing. ...

Time your tension effectively. ...

Introduce exponential tension. ...

Consider using cliffhangers: at the end of a scene or at the end of a chapter.

Throw out those extra words (adverbs). Verbs = Action.

Examples in my writing:

Excerpt from "Brede" Rodeo Romance, Book 2

With and unexpected flash of recall cam a feeling of success. Only the joy was gone al too quickly, blotted out by something else that hovered at the edge of her consciousness. Dark and menacing, it pressed down on her like a thunderhead in the moments before a cloudburst.

She remembered the darkness...

Excerpt from "Lynx" Rodeo Romance, Book 1

Coming out of chute number 5 is Lynx Maddox, the "Wild Cat"...atop Widow-Maker. This cowboy hails from Amarillo, Texas. Let's give him a big Montana welcome."

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The heavy thud of hooves to the ground. The animal's labored breathing and the clang of the cowbell filled Lynx's head as his butt was pounded against the bull's back. His spine compressed with every jolt.

Helluva way to make a living, he thought, fighting to remain upright. Infuriated, the bull jerked its head from side to side, rolled his eyes, and suddenly aimed a horn at Lynx's leg.

The Brahman had changed his tactics, Lynx realized, his arm pulling hard at the socket as he fought against gravity. Exhaling a heavy snort, the animal dropped its head forward and blasted toward the center of the arena, Lynx knew he was in trouble, big time. . .

Excerpt from "Tanayia--Whisper upon the Water" Native American/First Peoples Series, Book 1


The Governor of New Mexico decreed that all Indian children over the age of six be educated in the ways of the white man.

Indian Commissioner, Thomas Morgan, said: It was cheaper to educate the Indians than to kill them.

1880, Apacheria, Season of Ripened Berries

Isolated bands of colored clay on white lime-stone remained where the sagebrush was stripped from Mother Earth by sudden storms and surface waters. Desolate. Bleak. A land of barren rocks and twisted paths that reached out into the silence.

A world of hunger and hardship. This is my world. I am Tanayia. I was born thirteen winters ago. My people and I call ourselves "Nde" this means "The People". The white man calls us Apache....

I hope you enjoyed this month's topic.

Remember to complete the blog hop and see what my cohorts have divulged (we all love  secrets) about developing tension in their writing.

Happy Reading and Writing,


Marci Baun

Dr. Bob Rich

Skye Taylor

Victoria Chatham

Connie Vines (You are here now)

Diane Bator

Rhobin L Courtright


  1. An excellent list to consider, especially as you revise and edit, but also when you suddenly find yourself with that dreaded sagging middle.

    1. Thank you Skye :). Yes the dreaded 'sagging middle'. I

  2. I have no secrets to impart. Being a pantser, I don't do any plotting. I do consider tension, but, often, it's created the characters themselves. Somehow, the story throws situations at them that create tension.

    I enjoyed your excerpts.

    1. I'm my excerpts were enjoyable. I've found myself to be more of a panster the past few years. Still, I need a basic plot-line to find my way to The End.

  3. Found your list for creating conflict great! And you are right -- readers have to like the main characters to keep reading, although occasionally, they can seem disreputable. Then it is so interesting to read about their changes.

  4. Well presented list of points to consider. I am so grateful to all my author colleagues for the insights into their expertise as that helps me expand my own.

    1. Thank you Victoria. I agree, we can learn so much from out author colleagues and applied the new tools to our own stories.

  5. Hi Connie, I loved the lists, too, and particulrly your reference to secondary tension. I'm such a 'resolver' by nature that I often have to go back and reverse the direction of a scene in case I wrap-up by chapter three. Anne Stenhouse


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