Creating Tension in Fiction and Memoir

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by Michael Mohr

One of the toughest things to do in fiction or creative nonfiction writing, in my professional opinion, is to create strong, believable tension. Without tension—between the protagonist and a villain, the protagonist and him/herself, the protagonist and the environment, etc—you really don’t have much of a story. And it’s unlikely readers will want to follow you far through the jungle of your narrative.

Tension seems to be lumped in usually with plot. I agree that plot and tension often go hand in hand, but I also think that stories which essentially lack, for the most part, any real sense of “A-plus-B-equals-C” type of standard plot (meaning one thing happens which forces another to happen, etc, a sort of “causes and conditions” situation) can still grab readers’ interest and hold our attention for 250, 300 pages…as long as you’ve got real, authentic tension.

 

via Creating Tension in Fiction and Memoir