|High Tension Wires|
If you are writing crime fiction, as I normally do, a murder likely jump starts the story, and tension naturally builds throughout the telling. Or does it? Right now I am struggling with this very concept. And there's a murder on page 3. How could this be a problem?
I'm writing in two time periods: 1953 and 2018. Both periods are set during and just after the wheat harvest. My characters are a woman and her granddaughter. The woman, Lizzie, is a forty-year-old Mennonite widow in south central Kansas. She has been a near witness to the murder, and tension and conflict are not difficult to maintain, even among the peace-loving Mennonites in her small town.
Beth, Lizzie's granddaughter, has inherited her grandmother's bungalow in the town, and has recently arrived there to write a book about the Great Plains. She has just escaped an abusive relationship and is getting acquainted with her "new" family. She is very committed to maintaining good relations with them. She wants to make new friends, and she's treading carefully. The Mennonites are peaceful, religious people and take her under their wing. So in the early days of Beth's story, there is minimal tension and I am trying to increase it.
1) Beth hopes her ex-boyfriend will not be able to find her, but her father reports getting phone calls asking about her.
2) She hires a man to do some drone photography for her book, and it's a man the Mennonites have asked to leave the church.
3) An old woman, a surviving friend of her grandmothers wants to tell Beth all sorts of family secrets. Her "new" family has warned her about associating with the old woman. Beth wants to be friendly to the old lady but without listening to any unwanted confessions.
4) A somewhat indifferent cook, Beth has been roped in to helping feed the "threshers," the itinerant men who harvest the wheat. Will her brownies, coleslaw, and mac and cheese be up to snuff in the family of prize-winning cooks?
Most of these tensions are not earth-shaking until the evil ex-boyfriend tracks her down, a local man makes a deathbed confession that her grandmother had helped the police arrest the wrong man, and her father doubts his paternity and wants her to take a DNA test. This will test Beth to the limit--a few chapters down the line. In the meantime?
How do YOU create and maintain tension while setting up the story and getting your ducks in a row? This has never been a problem until now.
Fortunately, the chapters between 1953 and 2018 alternate, so I will have to arrange to have cliffhangers in one chapter or another. Tension here. Conflict there. Beth's father will add to the tension, but that's a few scenes down the road. I need some tension NOW.
My writing group had some excellent ideas which sparked some of my own. The past story will soon inform the present, but not just yet. Depending on. your story, it can difficult to set up the plot and get your ducks in a row and still create tension and conflict.
|Novelette available on Amazon|
|Lots of tension and conflict in The Meth House, as you might expect.|
These great authors will all have something trenchant to say about the subject of creating tension.
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspo
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.w
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blo
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1oh
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/b
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright