News: My thoughts are clouds I cannot fathom into pastries.

--1 June 2018--

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

August 1, 2010

The Development of Tension

Every good story requires the development of tension. This special asset of novels is perhaps one of the most important ways a writer can reel in their readers. Unfortunately, the expression of emotion and development of the situation to convey tension is often hard and requires may re-writes and practice. Since most of you on Bloggosphere are familiar with the writing process and/or are experienced writers, it would be a pleasure to have you rate and "grade" the following excerpt from "A Peculiar Thing Indeed". Here are the things you must grade, each on a scale of 1 - 10:

  1. Smoothness of development. Does the excerpt have a smooth transition from tense situation to relaxation? (1 = poor, 10 = great)
  2. Tension (1 = none, 10 = lots!)
  3. Description (1 = not enough, 10 = perfect!); just the right amount of description is needed to make a scene come alive.
  4. Your experience (1 = boring, 10 = my heart rate accelerated); as a reader, the tension of the experience should get your heart pumping...if it doesn't then something is probably wrong.
  5. Interruptions (1 = too many, 10 = none); too many interruptions quell the feeling of tension and make the moment less stressful.
  6. Any other comments: just jot down whatever else you think is important for me to know :)

And now for the excerpt...

Sam bolted upright in bed. Her sheets were soaked with sweat and she felt her heart thumping against her ribs at a furious pace. Her comforter lay against the far wall of the room and her pillow was torn. White feathers spilled out of the mangled side and onto the floor.
Slowly, Sam got up and flicked on her light switch. She grabbed her comforter and wrapped it around her. Her pillow greeted her gaze when she turned her eyes towards her bed. Wiping sweat from her brow, she carefully placed the wounded item on a chair and grabbed another pillow from her closet.
It was just a dream, Sam told herself as she climbed back onto her bed. She went to turn the light out when a faint scratching sound reached her ear. Sam froze. The sound stopped and a low moan echoed from near her window. Slowly, very slowly, Sam turned around and then snickered at her childish fear. It was only a tree branch scratching her window and the moaning was simply the wind rushing against the roof.
Still, Sam wasn’t courageous enough to turn out her light and fall back to sleep. She threw her legs over the side of her bed and glanced at the clock while she slipped on her slippers. The time read 10:22pm. Enough time to grab a cup of tea, she thought to herself.

Please post your complete judgment in a comment; your opinions will be released on Tuesday (August 3rd).




  1. Okay, the first thing I'm going to point out is that it's only 10:22pm. Dreams usually don't start taking place until after midnight. (Who's asleep by 10:22 anyway?)

    Aside form that. . .

    Smoothness of development: 7

    Tension: 6 - You definitely could have pushed the tension even farther, though the first part was really good.

    Description: 8 - Very good. I'm not great at description, so pretty much anything is good to me!

    Your experience: 7 - My heart was going during the first paragraph and a half, no question about it.

    Interruptions: 8 - I think the excerpt as a whole played out quite nicely, albeit a little short.

    (By the way, really good idea. Maybe I should use it. . .)

  2. Hmmm...the beginning was good at showing tension, desribing things like the forehead sweating and heart racing, but the way she looks at everything, it seems as if the tension is fading away the more she calms down. Of course, if something happens when she goes to get a cup of tea, then the tension would start all over. :)

    Smoothness: 10
    Tension: 7.7
    Description: 10
    My Experience: 8 - My heart starting to beat a little faster.
    Interruptions: 9 - Glancing at the pillow was a little distracting for some reason.

  3. 1. 8

    2. 9

    3. 8 I had the general feel of the room, but there wasn't really any description on that part. However, if you had described the room in an earlier scene, you can ignore this thought. :D

    4. 8 Pretty well written in this respect, but I think that the entire scene could be extended a bit. What was Sam feeling? I knew she must've been breathing hard and feeling rather frightened because of some of the description in here, but besides the 'Sam froze', I didn't really catch any direct panic feelings coming from Sam.

    5. 9 Good job here. :)

    6. Overall, it was a good scene and pulled me in. With a touch more description in key places, it would be great! :D

    Good job. I can't wait to read more! :D


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