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How to Invoke Tension in Creative Writing

The purpose of this article is to teach you various techniques on how to introduce tension into your creative writing projects. Not all techniques will suit all situations, so you need to find the one that works best for you.

The Importance Of Tension

In creative writing, tension is very important. Without it, your story won’t seem genuine, and it’ll come across as forced. The technique that you use to introduce tension will depend on the type of story that you’re writing, as well as the type of atmosphere that you want to bring to the piece. Writing is all about being able to evoke a feeling in your reader that they’re not expecting and enjoy your story for what it is. You want your readers to feel emotionally engaged in your work, but you also don’t want to overuse plot tricks in the process. This is why you should work hard to find a way to introduce tension in a subtle way that doesn’t ruin the flow of the story.

The Three Types Of Tension

There are three types of tension that you need to be aware of and use correctly in your creative writing:

Uncomfortable Conflicts

Conflicts are the bread and butter of any good story. They can be inner or outer, but they should all serve a purpose in some way. Inner conflicts often involve the main character trying to decide whether or not to follow a certain path, and this can produce an uncomfortable feeling for the reader because they don’t want to watch the character they’re invested in struggle with themselves. Outer conflicts often involve the main character struggling with an antagonist who is trying to stop them from reaching their goal.

In both cases, the tension is created from an unwanted or unexpected turn of events. These kinds of confrontations produce a jolt of shock that makes the reader want to keep reading to see how things will play out. Whether you choose to resolve the conflict or not is up to you, but the point is that you’re engaging the reader by pitting a character against another, or by having a showdown with an antagonist. This is why you need to be careful about introducing too much tension too early in the story; otherwise, you risk losing the reader because it seems like too much is happening all at once and they aren’t given enough time to adjust to the pace of the story.

Imaginary Tension

This type of tension is often used in thrillers, mystery stories, and suspense novels, and it can be both internal and external. Imaginary tension often comes from the main character’s fear of something that is either lurking outside of the story, or inside themselves, but they don’t know it yet. You might choose to have a character hide something from the reader, but it can just as easily be something that the character is afraid of that will come out during a pivotal moment. Once this happens, it will change the course of events and produce an uncomfortable feeling for the character because they’re not prepared for what is coming. In order to produce the right amount of tension in this case, you want to hide the secret as much as possible, and you also want to make sure that the character is insecure enough about their ability to trust others, so that when the secret comes out, it will have the right effect on the reader.

Thriller novels are a great example of this type of tension. Most of them are written in a first person point of view, which puts the reader directly in the protagonist’s head. In a way, you can think of it as a combination of mental and emotional tension. The main character is hiding something from themselves, but they also want the reader to have that something too. This is why there’s always a part of the story where the main character has a reaction to something that they just found out about, even if it’s something that they already knew about. You can also use this technique in non-fiction, as well. For example, if you’re writing a biography and you find out that your subject was arrested for murder but they always claimed that they were framed, you can have the character re-live that moment whenever they think of it. It would be a tense moment, because they will have to decide whether or not to trust the person that they’ve just learned might be lying to them about their most closely-held secret.

Moral Tension

This is the type of tension that often comes from a character’s struggle to choose between good and evil. It can be a choice that is presented to the character logically and rationally, but it’s one that is difficult to justify because of the consequences. For example, in order to save a condemned man’s life, an executioner will take the blame for his crimes, allowing the condemned man to live. This is a classic example of moral tension. The conflict comes from the fact that the executioner knows that he’s breaking an important rule, but he also feels like he’s justified in this case because of what is at stake. The dilemma that he faces involves a moral question that can’t be easily solved. This kind of tension can be found in any genre, but it’s more prevalent in detective stories, war stories, and some science fiction.

For example, in The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred’s dilemma involves whether or not to allow a man who she’s been forced to marry to have intimate relations with her. She knows that by doing this, she will be endangering the lives of her and her daughters, but in her opinion, the world would be a better place if the men were to take greater responsibility for the consequences of their actions. In a way, it’s a battle of good versus evil, but the question is: which is the lesser of two evils?

To conclude, when it comes to writing and creating art, there are many techniques that you can use to produce tension. This article will help you identify and understand the different types of tension that you can use in your creative writings, and how you can use them to the best effect. Thanks for reading! I hope this article gives you a better understanding of tension and how to use it effectively in your creative writing.