28 June 2012, this blog is about writing in scenes. I’ll leave up the parts of a novel because I think this is an important picture for any novelist. I’m writing about the rising action.
1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
Tension and release is the method of development of the rising action. There are obviously degrees of tension and release–let’s look at them.
How to create tension and release. Let’s start a list, off the cuff:
5. Hunger or thirst
9. Pain and suffering
16. Gender confusion
I’m beginning with the secrets of the protagonist (main character). This is why I don’t like first person for novels. In a first person novel, it is not impossible to keep the protagonist’s secrets from the reader, but most authors don’t. In the third person, it is easy and reasonable for the author to keep the protagonist’s secrets.
The secrets of the protagonist are the best and most powerful secrets an author can use to build tension and release. For example, in my unpublished novel, Warrior of Darkness, the protagonist, Klava, is blind. The reader might guess (from my other novels and hints) that Klava is blind, but I don’t tell you and the other characters don’t know or don’t let on. You only discover the main character is blind near the last half of the novel when the antagonist discovers Klava is blind. This is how you keep secrets from your readers, and this is the reason you keep secrets from your readers. Many readers, when they discover Klava is blind will note all the foreshadowing and smile at the revelation. Some will be absolutely surprised. And this isn’t Klava’s only secret.
I’ll write more about secrets as a tension builder, tomorrow. I also want to leave myself a note. I was asked by one of my blog readers to explain how I decide what to tell and what not to tell in my writing. I’ll try to keep this in mind as I touch on the rest of the tension building topics.