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Monday, November 14, 2016

Mastering Stylistic Tension



Hey everyone! Last week I did my first post on Writers Helping Writers. So instead of doing another new post on here today, I want to send you guys to that one. In it, I talk about mastering stylistic tension. Here is the beginning to get you started:

One of the first things writers learn is to start a story with conflict. Some writers have bombs go off. Others start with a death. Or a break-up. But over the years, looking at unpublished material, I’ve learned and relearned that how such conflicts are rendered on the page stylistically can often be just as important as the conflict itself, and sometimes even more important.

I’ve seen a lot of stories start with the dead or dying—a topic that is universal to the human experience. And yet, stories that promise a content-minor conflict on something like, say, a character losing her job, seem to have more tension. Why is that?

Often it’s based on how the writer handles the conflict stylistically. In some ways, it’s not the conflict itself that draws readers in, it’s the promise of conflicts. A story that opens blatantly with death often isn’t as interesting as a story that opens with the promise of death—whether that death happens on the first page or last page of the story.

When you begin a story with a death itself . . . that’s it. It’s all there, on the page. But when you begin a story with a promise of death, the reader feels the need to read on to find out about the death and discover whether or not is actually happens.

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