|Moning does a great job of creating and maintaining|
sexual tension between MacKayla Lane and Jerricho Barrons
in her Fever series.
Just yesterday, I read an article about exactly this issue: Why tension works and how to put it in your own writing. Christopher Keeslar, Editor in Chief at Boroughs Publishing Group, says it best. So I'm going to share his advice right here, right now:
From the January issue of Boroughs Publishing Group's newsletter:
BURGLE ME, BABY
|Editor-In Chief Christopher Keeslar|
So, it’s a new year, a blank slate, a fresh chance to excel. January is about beginnings, and beginnings are where (consciously or not, you pantsers) we plan, where we take stock of our strengths and weaknesses to determine the best method to reach our goals. As a writer your job is to entertain, and to entertain you need to keep readers on their toes. Yes, you need to surprise them. Over and over. But that should be the fun part of writing: processing all the different aspects of your story then finding your particular strengths and playing to them.
Every novel has numerous opportunities to inspire wonder and awe: fantastic but believable settings, unique and/or sympathetic characters, groundbreaking concepts, lyrical narrative, witty dialogue. But the most obvious way to keep your readers on their toes is through plot devices. Every time you have a conflict, ask yourself if you’re taking the easy way out. How many stories have you read where you can’t possibly see the hero and heroine escape…and then things getreally dicey? Not enough. Many authors (even veterans!) take the first opportunity to resolve tension. My advice? Resist. Keep your readers on the edges of their seats. They’ll thank you for it later.
I hasten to add that evoking a “Huh?” reaction from a reader does not qualify as surprise. At least not a positive surprise. The easiest example: Too often I see chapters end at strange points, where an author thinks, “Well, they’ll have to keep reading if I just don’t tell them what happens.” The cliffhanger is greatly overrated. Every story has a series of beats, and these are what chapter breaks should mark. A well-crafted tale maintains tension through the end of a beat.
Along that line, a reader should never be confused or feel denied critical information. They can and should be intentionally misinformed, perhaps, keeping within the rules of your universe, but never confused. Don’t withhold information that is crucial to later payoffs; layer it in early. If a hero’s sister died falling off a horse and there will be a dangerous horse race for the heroine at the climax of your story, tell us at the beginning. The less information we have to process at any moment of emotional turmoil, the more we can live in that moment. Tell us early, tell us often. But if at all possible, tell us indirectly.
The cleverest writer is a burglar: By the time you know which emotion she’s looking to steal, she’s already got it.
What are some romances novels that you felt really pulled off the tension between their characters?
Read The Genie Ignites today!