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What Microtension Is and Why Writers Must Master It

Note: This post was originally posted in August on Writer’s Fun Zone here.

Tension is created by lack. Lack of understanding, lack of closure, lack of equilibrium or peace. When your readers have questions, that creates tension. When they need to know what happens next, that is tension.

Masterful writers keep their readers in a constant state of tension. And that’s a good thing.

But here’s something to keep in mind: our characters may be tense, but that doesn’t mean readers are tense in response. A character with a tightened fist or clenched jaw does not ensure readers will respond in the same way. And that might not even be the desired response a writer is hoping for.

What the characters think, feel, and show must be carefully executed to evoke the desired emotional response in readers. Continue Reading…

The Emotional Power of Connected Settings

Chances are, you’ve heard of deep point of view. Imagine a camera lens that zooms in for a close-up; deep POV is when the description filters directly through the point-of-view character (usually the protagonist) on a deep, emotional level.

When readers see what he sees and feel what he feels, it allows for intimate characterization and creates a shared experience in which the story comes alive through the character’s senses, thoughts, beliefs, emotional focus, and judgments.

Not every story uses deep POV, but all writers work to create a level of closeness between the character and reader, which requires a deft hand to bring about. The setting is the story element that facilitates this.

Experiencing details from the setting through the protagonist’s emotions and senses makes the reader feel truly part of the story. This means that choosing the right setting for each scene is important to not only help events unfold but increases reader-character connection. Continue Reading…

When Your Character Is His Own Worst Enemy

Traditionally, there are four general types of opposition at the heart of a story. While our protagonist might face multiple kinds of opposition, the primary one will usually fall into man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, or man vs. self (and of course you can replace man with woman, or robot, or alien).

In story structure, there are key scenes in which the opposition rears its/his/her ugly head and “pinches” the protagonist—hence why these are called “pinch points.”

Two specific pinch points occur in traditional story structure, the first one falling between the 25% mark (turning point #2) and the midpoint (turning point #3) and the second one around the 67% mark (before the Dark Night of the Soul moment).

The purpose of the first pinch point is generally to introduce the opposition to the reader. The second pinch point reveals the full force of the opposition. Continue Reading…

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