HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION is a short book, but it is by no means slight. Deardon gets straight to the point, starting off with a solid explanation of why stories need tension and how to get it. The thirteen techniques are all explained with concise examples that show them in action. Beginning writers will want to stop reading after every chapter to take notes and apply Deardon’s examples to their own work. Experienced writers can use it as a checklist to make sure they’ve kept the tension high and are using a variety of techniques instead of their favorite one or two.
Deardon clearly explains the difference between tension and stakes. Stakes are why the story is important, why the hero must achieve his goal. The tension is the paragraph-by-paragraph events the hero is going through. Story stakes make the reader pick up the book in the first place, but tension will force readers to turn the page to find out what happens next.
Beginning writers love to have their heroes sit still and think about their problems. But that’s the quickest way to stop a story. Better to have the hero actively trying to solve the problem, and the more obstacles that keep him from that goal, the better.
Some of the techniques in HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION are self-explanatory, like the ticking clock and closing off options. Others are more subtle, like using a mirror character to demonstrate danger and adding an incentive for not completing the goal. If the hero has motives to both complete and not complete the goal, the reader will race through the book to see which way he decides to go.
HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION ends with an explanation of the scene—sequel technique that helps move the story forward while making sure it contains emotional richness. With Deardon’s tips, and her template for a perfect scene, every writer can learn how to write a story that will keep readers’ attention until the very last page.
rating: 4 stars
pie slices: 8 slices craft
This book is best for: beginning writers
I recommend this book