Tag Archive - microtension

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…

Evoking Emotions in Readers in a Masterful Way – Part 3

In the last two posts, we’ve looked at the challenge of evoking emotions in our readers. You’ve learned that just telling how a character feels does little to nothing to evoke emotional response in your reader.

The primary purpose of fiction is to elicit an emotional response. Think about it. Readers of fiction aren’t reading to acquire facts, such as they might do when studying a nonfiction book. They read to be entertained, affected. They read to be tense, laugh, worry, get excited. In other words, they read to feel something.

And your job as a fiction writer is to masterfully write in a way that will evoke a specific emotional response in your reader. You may not be able to name exactly what those emotions are, but you should know what those emotions feel like when you experience them.

We looked at how thoughts lead to emotions, and that getting into your character’s head and showing her thoughts in a masterful way is the ticket for eliciting that emotion in your reader.

Emotions are wide and varied. Subtle and strong. You might want to evoke just a tiny bit of sympathy or a huge heart of compassion in your reader. You might want your reader to end a scene feeling a tiny bit annoyed with a character. Or feeling outraged.

You are the magician and the manipulator of emotion. So it behooves you to study hard. Examine passages in novels that move you. Then figure out what the author wrote that had that impact on you. Continue Reading…

Evoking Emotions in Readers in a Masterful Way – Part 2

We’ve been delving into the challenge of the emotional concerns in fiction writing. It’s a twofold objective: showing characters who experience emotions, in order to make them believable in all their natural human behavior, and evoking emotion in our readers, which is, I believe, the harder of the two tasks.

However, to be a masterful writer, we must master both. It doesn’t take a lot of work to learn how to “show” emotion in our characters, though the tendency might be to drift into tropes and boring actions (her heart pounded in her chest; he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth). Granted, sometimes we are hard pressed to be masterfully original with every bit of emotional showing we do (though, as we saw in the posts on masterful description, “fresh” and “original” can be achieved with effort).

We’ve seen, to a limited extent, how characters can effectively “tell” their emotions, share what they are feeling, and that can be done quite masterfully as well.

And that leads to the issue we discussed in the last post on the subject: how to manipulate readers’ emotions.

To reiterate a key point: thoughts lead to feelings. For example: I start to think how I might have accidentally left the back door open, and that might have been why my toddler wandered out of the house and is now lost. That thought induces emotions of guilt and self-recrimination. A thought comes into my head, suggesting my boyfriend may have lied about where he was last night, and suddenly I am suspicious, doubting him, wondering if he is cheating on me, and that last thought detonates feelings of anger and betrayal. Continue Reading…

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