How to Stretch Tension to Maximize Suspense

This week’s craft essay focuses on creating and heightening tension in order to build suspense. I don’t know about you, but this is an issue I struggle with regularly. I either rush through a scene, just skimming the surface, or drag it out so long it loses its impact.


Thanks for the link to this article @kellygunteratlas , I have a real problem when it comes to staying with a scene and drawing out all the possibilities, especially when it involves tension arising from conflict.


One of the techniques I use to raise tension without resorting to summary, is to limit what I’m going to ratchet. Right now, I’m looking at my first plot point and I need to slam the door on my MC before he reverts to his natural state of avoiding conflict. He’s already got some peripheral problems which could be compounded by this encounter, and he’s dead last out-of-favor with his best friend over his insistence to push on and satisfy his curiosity. So, I’m putting a contradiction between him and himself. He wants to do this, but is hoping for the opposite result. Classic cake and eat it, too. I have three things this situation will present and he will have three choices to make with each. With each scenario, he’ll have a different reaction. Doesn’t have to monumental. Nervous chuckling and inappropriate humor. Next, fidgeting - my guy likes to shift his feet and cross and re-cross his various appendages. I try to describe it so if you were actually watching him, you’d reach out and grab his arm, squeeze firmly, and tell him to stop. Then he starts to argue. Always make them argue . . . best way in the world to show their cause is lost . . . when they lose the argument. Finally, I’m going to circle him back to the jokes. Then he’ll get cut-off at the knees when he’s told something along the lines, “We’re just getting started.” les faire pleurer; make them weep


Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!


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