It's Wednesday at The Pink Heart Society, so we'll be writerly and talk about, you know, writing. Thankfully, Steeple Hill author Missy Tippens stopped by to make it fun!
Missy Tippens, here. I’ve recently discovered yet another reason to watch TV. :) To study tension in a story.
Have you ever watched a show week after week and been totally hooked. But then bam!, they do something that defuses the tension, and you find you’ve lost interest? Think of the classic example of this…Moonlighting.
I was pondering this the other night after watching the movie Tristan and Isolde. Man, what conflict there: loyalty vs loyalty. In Tristan’s case, it was loyalty to the man who saved him and took him in as a son (and also to country) versus loyalty to his true love (and thus self).Painful to watch. And it made me realize the proposal I’m working on doesn't have that kind of tension. It reminded me that we have to be sure come up with book-length conflict, and we can’t give our characters a break! The readers have to want to keep reading to the end of the book before they get the big payoff.
So what am I doing to add that tension to my proposal? I pulled out one of my favorite how-to workbooks, Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within Guidebook. In her books, she talks about heroic conflicts such as loyalty vs loyalty and gives a helpful list of some common heroic conflicts/issues. So I’m in the process of figuring out the type conflict my characters will be facing.
In my new release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, A Forever Christmas, I planned these conflicts in the early stages of writing. For my heroine, Sarah, her conflict is betrayal versus trust (the hero, Gregory, had betrayed her in their past and she has to learn to trust him again). For Gregory, it is guilt versus expiation (he needs forgiveness for past mistakes to be able to move on and love again). And neither of these conflicts could be resolved until the end! I have to admit, this is one weakness of mine. I have a hard time creating conflict (torturing my characters) because I don’t like conflict in real life. But I’m learning to stick it to ‘em. And if I ease up on that tension in the least, my editor lets me know! :)
What about you? What do you do to make sure to keep that tension running through the whole story?
Missy Tippens’ third book for Steeple Hill Love Inspired, A Forever Christmas, has just released. Read an excerpt at e-harlequin.com. It’s also available at Amazon.com or on the shelves wherever you buy Harlequin books.