Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Writing Things 15: Tension

Post inspired by the movie I watched recently. 
Would totally recommend you to watch Sully if you haven't already. :P 
If not, I still hope this post can be helpful. 

movie based on the 2009 plane crash into the Hudson river. would not recommend you watch if you have a crippling fear of planes. XP 


^^^Admittedly my personal worst problem with writing. 
(Besides description and almost every other writing device out there. Xd)

So this is more a post to myself: a reminder if you will. 
Excuse me if I ramble. ^.^

Unless you carry hives of bees on a daily basis, there isn't much in mundane, daily life that can be tension inducing. 
(If you do work with bees -tips hat to you-) 

So, for some of us, it might be difficult to imagine ourselves in tight situations. 
Especially ones concerning life and death. 

Questions normally asked

  • How do people actually act during these situations? 
  • How do people feel? 
  • What if my MC is just accustomed to this stuff? 
  • What if MC is not? How to react to possibly traumatizing situations? 
Of course, we can search this stuff up on the internet or interview friends, but if you have no sources for, 'how do people react when their ear is about to be forcefully cut off', it can be up to the imagination. 

Don't forget the spaceship battles and the dragon fights. XD 
IMAGINATION IS KEY, but don't forget some very important factors in writing this stuff. 


How to write Tension 

The tension I'm talking about (of course), is mental or emotional strain.
When you want your readers to really feel the tension in what you are trying to convey, it can be difficult. 

Your readers are not using their senses when they read your writing, meaning that they can't see or hear what you are describing unless you tell them. (note to self) 
Unfortunately, there are no cool soundtracks to back it up either. -cry- 

A few pointers: 

   1. I've heard this all the time: but use shorter sentences. 

Example: Tell me which would more likely cause you to tense up:

  • "This is your captain speaking; we are about to crash. Brace for impact."
  • "This is your captain. Brace for impact." 
(The second one is my choice. :P) 

I noticed this usage of short sentences during Sully, and for me, there was never a dull moment in the movie because if it. 
I've also noticed that people tend to become more tight lipped during tense situations. -shrugs-

   2. Make use of specific senses. 

Especially sound. Unusual details in noises get my heart pounding. ^.^ 
And if you can, use peripheral feelings as well. 

  • There came a strange rumbling noise he could barely hear, and his stomach twinged as he felt the engine give beneath him. 
  • The roar could have been the falls, but for the high-pitched screeching towards the end. 
  • Her shoes squeaked on the tile, and she winced as the noise chased itself down the hall.
I love a really well written tension sentence to get my spine tingling. 

   3. Grill up some stakes! 

I love me some good stakes. ;D 
Jokes aside, what really drives tension is stakes. 
What is there to lose, most importantly. (who lives, who dies...) 
  • How many passengers die? Who gets fired? 
  • Who is afraid to lose something? What do they lose? 
  • What friendships are lost to get something else? 
  • Which bombs go off in the warehouses? 
  • Who lies to buy some time? 
  • Which person has to fight the dragon to get to the prisoners? 
You get it. Ya'll are smart. :P


So that is all I have for the last day of February!
My writing posts have been pretty slow lately, I apologize everyone. ^.^

Anyways, I hope you all have a great rest of your week.
Please feel free to comment on how you write tension best. I happen to be a poor writer on the subject. :P

Keep smiling! -Saphira

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