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Sunday, August 6

Writing Prompt: The Skill Builder: Raising the Tension in a Scene

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt focuses on an exercise designed to work on a particular skill or technique, such as a POV exercise or character builder. Today’s skill: Tension.

Create or revise a scene and pack it full of tension

Tension is often created by what isn’t said. Look at your scene and determine if you’re being too obvious or forthcoming.
  • If you held something back a little, would it make the scene more tense or interesting?
  • If people didn’t answer questions honestly and fully, would it create tension?
  • Is the subtext hinting at more going on beneath a character’s surface?
A handy tension-building question: Where in the scene might readers anticipate something?


  1. Might this work in the beginning of a synopsis?

    1. Probably not, since the goal of a synopsis is to show the story. Hiding things defeats the purpose a little :)