Saturday, September 10, 2016

Character Tension – Part 1 – Conflicting Characters

I decided to write a three part series on how to create tension in your novel. Before we dive in, let me just say that there are hundreds of ways you can add tension into your novel and this mini series just looks at the tiniest little level of tension in regards to character.
Often, people think tension in your novel comes only from high action and do or die situations. While this can often be true, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other kinds of tension that are just as important (and effective) as the do or die variety. So let’s take a look at different types of tension and how you can use them in your book. Here are my first three suggestions about creating conflicting characters:

One - The first thing (and perhaps the most obvious) is to create characters that have conflicting personality traits. This doesn’t just mean for your protagonist and antagonists. Your secondary characters can conflict against other secondary characters (or the main characters). How do these characters work together? Against each other? What happens in a disagreement? What could ever make them agree?

Two - Characters with different backgrounds can also conflict – are some poor and others rich? How does this affect them? What about those of other religions, castes, creeds? How about social standing? What about nationality? Education? Neighborhoods raised in?

Three - Then there are characters that are part of conflicting social groups. Are some anti-abortion and the others pro? How about those pro war and those against? Is there a member in a group who is a zealot and another who wants to leave?

Take a look at the characters you create and how they will all interact. Is there something more you can do to make them rub up against each other? Building characters who have opposing views and lifestyles can bring a lot of tension to your story, so make sure you use it to your advantage!!!

Check back next month to see Tension – Part Two – Family!

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