Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Adding Tension

The other day as I sat down to review a chapter of Barely There I was focusing on the tension in the scene. I tried to figure out where I could add tension, external or internal. I started wondering about what the best ways to add tension were. I created my own list of questions to ask myself, based on various manuscripts I have in the works. I thought it would be good to have a universal list I can pick through for each chapter in any work. Here is what I came up with.

Could a character be at odds with my protag? What is this opposition? Why?
Could a character come between the protag and his/her goal? Is it intentional or unintentional?
Could a character try to help the progag, but actual end up doing more harm than good?
Could a character disagree with a decision the protag makes? Why? What could the outcome of this disagreement be?
Could a character be keeping a huge secret that turns out to be important to the protags choices? Why is this other person keeping this secret? What effects does it have on the decisions the protag makes?
Could the weather come between the protag and his/her goal?
Could the weather contribute to a disaster forcing the protag to make a tough decision?
Could the weather cause the protag discomfort? (Rainy weather make an old injury hurt/stiff?)
Could the location make it difficult for the protag to meet his/her goal?
Could the protag have to make a trip that is riddled with disasters along the way? 
Is the setting familiar or new to the protag?

Could the protag face a moral dilemma? What are the possible outcomes? What are the consequences?
Could the protag face sacrificing part of himself/herself to meet his/her goal?
Could the protag be foreced to do something bad to get a positive outcome?
Could the protag be forced to make a difficult decision in saving one person, but letting another suffer?
Could the protag be forced to change his/her thinking to reach a goal?
Could the protag's beliefs / understanding of the world be challenged?

Do you have any other questions to add to this list?


  1. Great list! I'm going to be copying them :)

    1. Thanks! I have it taped into my editing folder. lol

  2. Nice post about adding tension!!! Thanks for sharing this.