Advice, Writing

Just the Right Amount – Tension in Stories

This is likely to be a short post, mainly because I need to get to bed somewhat early tonight so I can get up early in the morning to get some last minute editing and writing done, but an important one. I want to talk about creating tension in your story.

Tension is that strange bedfellow of conflict (a concept I’ve already discussed at length). Unlike conflict, though, tension can exist on every single page. With conflict, you need to be able to take a breather. Tension, however, drives your story and keeps your readers engaged. It doesn’t have to be in bright red, blaring letters, but tension lives and breathes in every word and scene in a good story. Whether it’s your character’s fears of not solving a mystery, or the pause before a battle where your characters are wondering if they’ll make it to the next day, or the long, drawn out moment when Dr. Frank N Furter lets us know he can see us shiver in antici…pation, tension is integral to keeping your audience engaged.

I’ll talk about some tried and true methods for creating tension in a story, as well as my personal thoughts on tension.


Getting Derailed

I woke up this morning, did my daily yoga*, and then started up my laptop. It’s Monday. I have a blog post to write. Instead, I got distracted by my day job, had an artist fall through unexpectedly, and ended up spending most of the night trying to recover from both of those things. In the end, I have no idea what I want to write about tonight, other than this, and I’m short a piece of art for my book.

Honestly, experiences like this are going to happen. Constantly. Life is unpredictable and happens while you’re making plans. In the past year or so, I’ve had to learn how to appropriately process these kind of derailments. I have generalized anxiety disorder, and before I started treatment, something like this would’ve consumed my day. And not in a productive way. No, I would’ve wasted away worrying about how to handle this sudden, unexpected change, frozen in place by the sudden upheaval in my carefully planned day.

I have to admit, I’m pretty happy that I was able to rather quickly process what had happened, respond to the artist in a calm and professional manner, and move forward with finding a replacement. And while this isn’t necessarily something I want to get use to doing, it’s something I can appreciate being able to do. It’s progress from where I used to be, and that’s well worth the stress.

Actually, this has been the second time in the past week that I’ve gotten derailed. This weekend was supposed to be spent doing significant work on the manuscript for Reader, especially since Sunday was our second family Christmas. Saturday was going to be a day spent writing. Instead, I had to do some very fast, very in-depth work on updating the website for Burner that kept me from working on writing until late in the evening.

And I find myself in a similar position tonight. But instead of beating myself up over it, I’m going to focus on the positive, realign myself with the tracks, and get this train running again. Which means a short, rambling blog post for tonight. 🙂 Hopefully, you’ll find something useful in this post. Probably you won’t. But it’s been helpful for me, so I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

See you all on Wednesday, where I will actually write something of substance.





*This is a new thing. I am trying to be a better person in 2017. So far, I have found that waking up early and exercising are two things I do not enjoy doing, but enjoy benefiting from. Life is a constant struggle, obviously*.

*This is a joke. I am not funny.

Status Sunday

Status Sunday #7

Good morning! I’ve got a busy day today, including a second Christmas with my Indianapolis family, so this is going to be a quick Status Sunday.

Things I’ve accomplished this week:

  1. Morning routine is getting its feet under itself, but writing has not been happening as much during that time as I’d like. That being said, I have worked on Reader every day this week, which is an improvement from last week.
  2. I emailed all of my artists and have received updates and some proofs. Good to have that moving along smoothly.
  3. I also emailed my readers and have gotten feedback from a handful of them. I’ll probably send another email out on the 11th, since that’ll give me exactly a week before I send the draft to the editor.
  4. I did a TON of work on the book’s website yesterday to handle a lot of CSS issues on the site, including reworking the majority of the mobile site. It was very weird to get back into the web dev mindset, but I’m glad my skills weren’t entirely too rusty.

Things I need to accomplish this week:

  1. Actually hit my 1,000 words a goal day. I’ve set a deadline of May 1st for the first draft of Reader being done, and I need to pick up the pace if I’m going to hit that ASAP.
  2. Get a Kickstarter plan written down. We know when we’re going to do it, but I want to get it written out.
  3. Get ISBN’s purchased.
  4. Final review of my draft before sending it off to the editor.

I have to go make mashed potatoes and some carrots for our second Christmas dinner. Talk to you all tomorrow!

Grammar, Writing

It’s All About Your Point of View

I will preface this post by warning you guys that I kind of have a love affair with grammar. I don’t claim to be the world’s best grammarian, but I am way more excited about the way that the English language works than I should be. As such, this is likely going to be the first of many posts that discuss grammar, how it functions, and how it can impact your writing.

Today, I’m going to discuss point of view. In its simplest form, point of view is the perspective the reader is taking in the narrative. When used effectively, it can help you show or obscure things from the reader, as well as let them in on things the characters don’t know. It’s arguably one of the two most important decisions you will make as a writer when starting a large project. I’m going to give you a rough overview of POV, pull some examples from my own writing to demonstrate how differing points of view can affect your storytelling, and then talk about how perspective can help or hinder your work.

STOP. It’s grammar time.


Community and Writing

Just recently, I started meeting with two other writers in my area to exchange work, and edit and provide feedback. We’ve been meeting for a few months now, and I have to say it’s been extremely helpful. So today’s post is going to be about the value of community and finding people you can trust to give you constructive criticism.