Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Tip for Tuesday
Writing The Breakout Novel (Workbook) by Donald Maass.
I was privileged to sit under Maass's teaching last fall, and I have to say, it was everything I'd hoped for and more. Not only did he teach from his Writing The Breakout Novel, he also taught about the core ideas in his latest book: The Fire in Fiction.
The central key to writing great fiction is to maintain the tension from the first word until the last.
When I first considered this idea, I thought, "That's only for suspense novels, or thrillers. I write romance. I can't be blowing things up and having people fight all the time."
It took awhile for the lightbulb to go on. Tension isn't about exploding helicopters and bodies dropping everywhere...or at least, that isn't the only type of tension a novelist can put in a story. Tension is about upping the stakes for the characters, about putting them in situations where they have to chose between two equally difficult paths. It's about dredging up a characters past and forcing them to face it, to either stay the same and atrophy or change and grow. It's about writing tight and keeping your scene goals crystal clear.
Question for you: 1) Have you read anything by Donald Maass. 2) Are you working to put tension into your scenes?