June 28, 2013

Thoughts from a Hot Shower: Blogathon, Day 28

First, get your minds out of the gutter.

This morning, I was in the shower (see first sentence again) and wanting that perfect hot temperature. As I do most mornings, I kept adjusting it slightly only to either be a bit too cold or a bit too hot.

Then it hit me (no, not just the water)... my struggle to find the perfect temperature is much like finding that sweet-spot of tension in a story. You can't go full out and scald your poor reader, but you can't freeze them out of the story either.

In addition, when you first get in the shower, several factors affect how the water feels to you even if you always set it exactly the same. Are you coming into the shower from the pool? Are you just getting out of a warm bed?

Like in our stories, the reader comes from different perspectives. Maybe they just read a romance novel. Or, they might have just put down a crazy thrill ride of a suspense novel.

Tension is such an important element of story. As much as I love building characters, readers can't relate to a simple background story about a person. They need to see that person challenged in some way, fighting some kind of literal or figurative demon.

The trick is to make sure the reader doesn't fall asleep or walk away. And you can't have the same level of tension for the whole book; it should ebb and flow. That's where my analogy ends, because once I reach that perfect temperature in my shower, I don't play with it.

If you have too much tension for too long, do you put the book down and take a break? Or, are you a reader who likes constant heart-pounding thrills?


Tonja Drecker said...

Interesting comparison, and so true. I love tension, but if there's too much too long, it leaves me feeling tired. But the slow scenes can't last too long either. Just enough to get a fresh breath and dive back into that tension.

bookworm said...

I strap in and go for the thrill ride (in books, that is). I've stayed up till "too late to get a good night's sleep and I have to work tomorrow!" enough times to finish a good book.

krystal jane said...

Balance is important. I always try to make sure I balance out the action with some lulls. The reader, the characters, and myself all deserve and enjoy the break. ^_^

Unknown said...

What beautiful imagery! I love it. I love reading your posts and the wonderful way you use words to engage both sides of my brain. Blessings, dear friend.

Jo Michaels said...

Agreed. You have to have the ups and downs all the way through. Creating those scenes with high-impact tension should be a workout for you, the writer, as well. They should leave you drained of emotion and a little keyed up with excitement :) When you feel it, your reader will, too. WRITE ON!