Chapter 21

Tightening the Tension to Enthral Readers

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding the importance of suspense

arrow Racking up the tension

Middles are often neglected. We all know about the middle-child syndrome, middle managers often complain that they are caught between two stools, and the piggy in the middle seldom gets the ball. The same is true with writing. The beginning and the end of the story are usually dramatic scenes that are easy to identify and focus on. But when you get to the middle, things start to get tough.

The middle part of your story is always the most difficult to write. After you’ve introduced the characters and created an arresting opening (as I discuss in Chapter 17), you often you find yourself wondering what to do next and how to keep readers turning the pages.

To increase and maintain the required narrative tension through the main part of your story, you have to create suspense. One great way to do so is to hold back information from readers to raise the stakes for the characters and to create time pressure. Clues help keep your readers on track, and leaving tantalising gaps also helps you to build suspense. You can also create cliffhangers at the end of your chapters and sections to keep readers’ palms sweaty with tension.

But that’s enough tantalising ...

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