Rising Action – Tension and Release, still more Secrets

30 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:

1. Fear
2. Love
3. Sex
4. Hate
5. Hunger or thirst
6. Jealousy
7. Danger
8. Drunkenness
9. Pain and suffering
10. Injury
11. Loss
12. Abuse
13. Torture
14. Nature
15. Sickness
16. Gender confusion
17.  Disfigurement
18.  Time
19.  Secrets
20. …

I’ll give you an example of a protagonist’s secret.  In my unpublished novel, Children of Light and Darkness, the protagonist, Kathrin, has a great many secrets.  These secrets are slowly revealed through the novel.  Kathrin is pregnant.  She knows this and it is a secret until late in the novel.  There is enough foreshadowing that a sharp reader will figure it out.

Kathrin is also a Celtic goddess.  This doesn’t come out until late in the novel, but, again, there are enough breadcrumbs that a reader might figure it out.  The point is that you should let your protagonist have secrets and don’t reveal them until the right time in the novel.  Don’t let your readers know everything about your characters.  I’ll give you more examples.

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.

About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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