How to Edit for Tension (Writing Exercise/Checklist)

Everyone wants to write a story that grabs its readers and doesn’t let them go until it’s over. Stories they’ll read before they fall asleep, when ‘ten more minutes’ turns into ‘two more hours’; stories that make them trip over their feet and walk into walls; great, suspenseful stories that make your heart pound. That’s what you want to bring to life. But how?

A great way is to approach it build tension with every page. Tension in every story, regardless of genre or subject, should crackle off the page. It makes conflict believable, and it adds some weight to your dramatic arch. Grab something you’ve written, or throw together a story, because this is an editing exercise. Let’s get started. 

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Break out a notebook and get ready to slash and hack. Here are the keys to editing in tension for a dynamic plot progression:

With these steps in mind, you can pare down your story into something quick and stressful in the best ways. Working on this exercise? Tweet your process to our feed, or send in follow up questions


I need some help. Whenever I write, I find it hard to vary punctuation because I tend to use dashes and brackets all the time but my worst case is that almost every paragraph I write consists of an ellipsis. Using ellipses is the only way I know how to create tension :(

I think you need to take a step back from your writing and imagine it as a moving rhythm. If you’re trying to build tension, ellipses are your enemy. Tension lives in a fast pace. Short, choppy sentences speed up the heart. They force you into motion with the narrative. Ellipses… slow down your story telling. Used often, they detach the reader from the weight of a situation and force them to look at it from the outside. 

Don’t overuse your ellipses; save them for special occasions. Otherwise, when building tension, move from longer sentences to shorter ones and use as few distracting punctuation marks as possible. 


Do you have a master list of character skeleton sheets?

Anonymous

We do now. Here are a few of the best/most interesting character development sheets we could find around the internet. Use them to answer questions as you develop and create your new characters.


How to Go to College for Free: The Best Open Classes for Writers (Fall 2014)

Massively Open Online Courses are the new vogue way to take control of your education and your career, and it’s the best thing. Higher education should be a right, but many of us can’t afford or can’t even access modern college courses. Anyone with conviction and a few extra hours a week can get themselves a college education from some of the best teachers in the world. You can even put finished courses on your resume. Just a few colleges that offer free online courses: MITBoston UniversityDartmouthCornellUniversity of TokyoHarvardYale University, and the University of Geneva - and that’s barely scratching the surface.

Those are some of the most funded, most prestigiously staffed universities in the world. The education offered by them, for free, is at your fingers. Just because the world might hold degrees and the brick and mortar institutions of modern universities as a reward for the already privileged or the lucky doesn’t mean you don’t have the resources to learn. Throwing the exposition away, here are my favorite courses for writers available this fall semester:

EXTRA CREDIT: Important and interesting classes I would recommended.

— Audrey Erin Redpath (@audreyredpath)


Clearly, there’s more to the lack of diversity in children’s books than whether or not POC are creating and publishing them. Could it be that some lack the motivation to seek out the books that are already there? That’s what René Saldaña, Jr., is asking. Now, I am, too.

Mind you, I’m not saying that we don’t need more books by people of color, because we most certainly do. The numbers show that we are woefully off the mark in producing diverse books in numbers commensurate with the proportion of our ever-increasingly diverse population. But that said, I am suggesting that we, perhaps, look at the issue a little more closely, that we ask a few more uncomfortable, but necessary, questions.

Mister Cellophane by Nikki Grimes

Reblog - 6 days ago via weneeddiversebooks · © tubooks with 133 notes
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Clever Writer’s Anthology (yes or no?)

Friends and foes (and writer’s woes), we’re working on a few larger projects. One of them is really exciting, but we need to know who’d be interested. 

We want to put together an Anthology of Writing and Artwork. Meaning, we want to take the poems, stories, and comics that people send us and make them available in print and as an ebook. That way, we can give the new and young writers who ask us for advice what might be their first chance to get published — and they can share it (in whichever form) with whoever they want! 

The book would feature your writing and comics, mixed in with articles about writing skills and interviews with writers and creators we think you’ll appreciate. 

So here’s what we need to know: are our followers interested? We know you like contests, but do you want your short fiction or poem to be published by us and shared with other writers learning just like you? Tell us with a like (and a signal boost) or a message if you’re interested either in submitting to a CH anthology, or reading one. We want to know! 


What I often see in NA books, tho, is basically YA porn, or close to it. Do you think this category is helpful for a self-pubbed book that doesn’t have sex and isn’t about sex?

I think labels are what we make of them, and that the NA category (while maybe influenced by marketing) isn’t any different. While New Adult books will naturally have more sexual content overall than Young Adult, sexual content has been a staple of many coming of age novels for a long time.

That doesn’t mean all YA novels feature sex, so I don’t think it should mean all NA novels have to feature it either. Becoming and living as an adult is about much more than that, and I think people looking into the genre will appreciate quality stories with or without it. 


What is the "New Adult" genre? I keep seeing the name.

Anonymous

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NA fiction, or New Adult fiction, is a bridge genre that is targeted at (and features protagonists who are) people between 18-25. Sometimes the age range is pushed further, but that’s the general rule.

“The Transition from child to adult doesn’t happen overnight—just ask as anyone who is or has been (or is a parent to) a teenager. But the transition from teen to adult doesn’t happen overnight either. There’s a period of time where adulthood feels like a new pair of shoes. The expectations of independence and self-sufficiency are still new, still being broken in. New Adults are the people who have just begun to walk in those shoes; New Adult fiction is about their blisters and aches.” — Kristan Hoffman

So while Young Adult fiction focuses on that coming of age, when you first start to define who you are and establish yourself in the world, New Adult follows what happens after that. Generally, NA is still grouped into either Adult or YA, but it’s useful as a category on its own. 

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Got something you wanna know? Ask away


PUBLICATION OPPORTUNITY: Allegory E-zine 
"We’re looking for good, solid fiction. We specialize in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. We will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, "quirky" slant in the Northern Exposure, Ally McBeal vein." [x]
Allegory publishes triannually, and their genre(s) are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. They’re looking for clever writing (with a twist), and they aren’t into gimmicky writing, gratuitous sex/violence, or pop culture pull ins. They pay a flat $15 for each piece, and they publish submissions for the next issue (meaning they don’t pre-pay.) Check out their submission guidelines here.
See more of The Writing Market: on the blog.

PUBLICATION OPPORTUNITY: Allegory E-zine 

"We’re looking for good, solid fiction. We specialize in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. We will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, "quirky" slant in the Northern Exposure, Ally McBeal vein." [x]

Allegory publishes triannually, and their genre(s) are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. They’re looking for clever writing (with a twist), and they aren’t into gimmicky writing, gratuitous sex/violence, or pop culture pull ins. They pay a flat $15 for each piece, and they publish submissions for the next issue (meaning they don’t pre-pay.) Check out their submission guidelines here.

See more of The Writing Market: on the blog.


How to Write Naturally

ihideinstories:

fictionwritingtips:

Trying to figure out what your style is isn’t as hard as it might seem. I’ve seen a lot of writers get asked questions like “how did you develop as a writer?” or “how did you find your style”, so I feel like this is a topic I should talk about. If you stop stressing out about it, it will all…

I don’t usually comment on stuff, but I’d like to respectfully disagree on one point. 

Mimicking the writing style of an author you admire can actually be very helpful. As a developing writer, you need to figure out whats best for you. If you write in the same style, and find you’re not suited for it, or you just don’t feel right, that’s good! Its helping you! I, personally, love writing in first person. It gives me a sense of personality, and in my perspective as a writer, I need that. But I only started using first person when I was mimicking the styles of Rick Riordan (did I just misspell his name? Please say no…). It helped me to focus on what I really liked to write. Sure, it sucked. When you write your really serious stuff, you should never actually try to imitate someone else. But using someone elses style for a while, trying on their clothes in a sense and seeing if they suit you is a great way to develop your voice. Today, I know that first person is basically almost always the way to go with my writing, and that humor is my friend. And if I hadn’t started out by copying someone else, I don’t think I would have learned that.

austinkleon's Steal Like An Artist should be required reading for writers, or anyone in a creative field. Mark Twain wrote once: “All Ideas are second hand.

And here’s a link from brain pickingsMark Twain on Plagiarism and Originality: “All Ideas Are Second-Hand”

It’s true. There’s no such thing as pure originality — inspiration comes from everything organic. If you’re watching movies, reading books, looking at artwork, you’re influencing your own art. As an artist, you steal from everything you love. You base your writing on the voices you want to hear on the page — whether you recognize it or not.