Creating Tension in Your Character #NaNoWriMo

worried girl

My creative writing teacher once told me that only trouble is interesting to read about, so if there isn’t any conflict, why bother telling the story? What I took that to mean was that if there isn’t a problem driving your hero/heroine forward, why would they go on a grand adventure, which leads to you recording their travels for your readers.

While there are different ways of incorporating trouble into a novel, today I’d like to explore how to create internal conflict in a hero/heroine.

Dueling Desires. You want these two deep wishes to fight each other. For example: while the heroine may long for love, she may also long for adventure, which she cannot have if she marries Bachelor Number #1. However, if she marries Bachelor #2, she may have adventure, but she might not have love. Which to choose? (Gasp! Cue dramatic music: Dun dun dunnnnn!)

To find out which she will choose, have her ask herself “What If” questions, which builds the tension and leads toward the drama and rising climax.

Test their desires/convictions. Give your hero/heroine two seemingly impossible choices. Both of which force the heroine to give up something she loves or something good in her life. This sacrifice will create sympathy with your reader for your poor heroine.

Force your hero/heroine to choose. Don’t give a Deus ex Machina solution or at least try to avoid it. Let your characters feel the pain of making a choice that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Find the unexpected solution. Now, when they are forced to choose, consider letting your characters think of a third option, which makes sense and will surprise your readers. If it is too close to Deus ex Machina, let them make the hard decision and allow the story to unfold.

Tension is the fun part of writing as you can put your characters in places that you would never find yourself, yet you get to have the adventure right along with them! If you have fun writing the tension, your readers will have fun reading about the tension!

I hope your #NaNoWriMo week is off to a great start! There is nothing like having the “tension” of the 1700 words per day goal to push you to write daily!

Happy Writing!

Photo Cred: Unsplash.com

About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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