Write Over the Hump: Adding Tension

Tension (aka suspense) is vital no matter what genre we write. Without tension, our writing feels flat and boring, even if the prose is beautiful. Those who write in the mystery/suspense/thriller genres have a bit easier row to hoe, since tension is automatically built into the plot of each story. But not every story is a mystery to be solved. Some are love stories. Come are coming-of-age. Some are simply about aging and dealing with change.

Still, all stories need a good balance of tension, or readers won’t keep turning pages. Here’s a fun exercise dripping with tension to get you in the mood.

Write Over the Hump

You are home alone and decide to take a shower just after midnight. You do not lock the bathroom door. You hear a noise coming closer and closer to the bathroom. What do you do? Do not take any time getting into the shower, you are already there when the scene starts. Draw the tension out as far as you can as you write for 10 minutes. Start now.

What kind of tension did you build into your scene?


About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.