Don’t just GIVE it away, you Plot whore!

Hey y’all! I’m finally getting back into the nitty-gritty of writing! A few days late but still. YAYYYY! Ha. And today I want to confess something. I recognize it as a nublet, rookie mistake but I’m going to say it out loud for all those out there who are in the same boat. One of the biggest flaws that I have that I’m working on changing:

I don’t believe in foreplay.

Now WAIT! Before you click the “back” button, this isn’t a post about erotica.

The main topic I want to talk about today is Suspense. I have absolutely none. I like things to be resolved quickly in my stories. It’s a reflection of my personal views (I’m a person who likes everything out in the open) and it’s bad for writing novel length fiction pieces. I’ve read painfully predictable stories and watched shows that cater to the “One and Done” mentality where problem and solution are paired together in the same 1 hour episode. It drives me ape shit as a writer to see this done repeatedly but personally I’m satisfied. I breathe a sigh of relief I don’t have to suffer the suspense of the plot withholding it’s resolution. This is the point of my article today.

Essentially, I cannot hold tension in a story to save my life. I only want happiness and light.

Yeah I know. It’s the stuff that makes readers hang on till the end. It’s literally the most important thing in a story. But for me to try to embrace this concept as a writer, it would be like Earth trying to learn to become water. I drop a rock on the ground, it’ll typically stay that way unless something else moves it. PLOP! And there it is. Nothing special. Nothing exciting or tense. My brain is like a rock.

Me: Look, there’s a bug! Bugs are icky and it’s going to eat my food!

Brain: Let’s kill it.

Me: OK! How do you want to go about this? We could drown it or put it in a spider web for it to be eaten or we can make a fire–

Brain: *drops a rock on it and smashes it* There. No more bug.

Me: O_O Well…alright then.

Trying to braid tension into a story is not an art I have learned to master yet. I know there’s misdirection involved and subplots and antagonists. It just kills me that the characters have to go through all that torture when I, the Almighty Wielder of the Red Pen of Death, can simply snuff it out with a few simple key strokes.

*Stands up and looks down in shame*

“I, Jessica, admit that I am…a Plot Whore.” 

Yes. I give everything away.

Well. If I want anyone to pick up my book and read beyond chapter 2 I sure as hell better learn how to braid quick, fast, and in a hurry! So I must embrace the subtle art of writing foreplay. This, I imagine, will be a long journey for me; as with every writer. Baby steps!

From what I read, it sounds pretty basic. At any given point in the novel, think about what would be the worst possible thing to happen to your character and then do it to them. And don’t give them what they want until the last third of the book. Make them toil for it. As you probably guessed, however, it really ain’t that easy.

There are lots of different ways to add tension to a story and prolong torture for your characters. Antagonists, minor character drama, environmental hazards, love affairs, real life responsibilities, family, inner conflict, moral dilemmas, death, religion, politics, medical problems… really the list is endless. So which ones do you add? Where? To whom? Which will make the audience keep turning the pages in anticipation? These are all legit questions you as a writer will have to whittle down. It can be overwhelming and there are millions of different combinations you can string together.

This is probably my biggest sub-problem with tension. There are so many possibilities that trying to figure out what makes the most sense for the characters and the story while trying to keep the audience engaged is a juggling act I fumble with.  “One and done”, remember? When I write something, I want it to be RIGHT the first time, not go back and undo hours of work or cut it out completely because a thread had to be axed. UGH.

There’s no real tried and true RULE for how many elements of tension you have to include in your story. You’ll have to decide when enough is enough. Some elements will be bigger than others, like a love affair or a death in the family. Some will be as simple as losing car keys or a spell going haywire and turning your hair into snakes for a day. Hellooooo medusa! The point is to make your characters suffer. The readers want to LIKE how this fictional person deals with things because they want to sympathize with their lives. They want to know that the situation that the character is in WILL get better if they just endure or at the very least, come up with a dealing mechanism. Nothing is really gained from a character that gets everything handed to them without learning the lesson. No one likes a spoiled brat, especially readers.

Alright so we’ve established how to create tension, sort of. Vaguely. Now here’s where the next point comes in: When to RELEASE.

Tension and foreplay are all well and fine, for most things. (HA.) But eventually we all need to either ease off or find release. There’s only so much suspense a person can take before it becomes strained and uncomfortable. Or annoying. There’s a balance a writer must strike between keeping the readers interested and letting them feel relief when something is resolved. It’s a reward system for your characters and audience. They’ve stuck with you this long! Let them have a bit of happiness.

This is my favorite part 🙂 I’m very good at writing solutions. Heh.

I wish I had a more informative and detailed post for you about conflict and resolution but I’m a nublet! I hope it was still a good reminder. That’s probably the best I can hope for right now.

Take care and write boundlessly!

 

 

 

 

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Author: Jessica Jordan

The adventures of one woman as she journeys to make it big in the Publishing World. With charming clumsiness she takes her first steps forward to travel this twisty-wisty world of blogging. Posts will be random, humorous, honest and emotional. She is never organized. Be warned!

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