I’ve arrived at my least favorite part of writing a novel–I call it tension overload and resolution. No matter what the genre, novels need that moment of danger when all seems to be lost, the heroine has been tied to the railroad track and the train is coming, the family farm is about to be lost or the main character only has five minutes to disarm the bomb before his/her counterpart is blown to smithereens. What makes it difficult (for me) is that the major conflict has to be resolved in a way that satisfies readers or you’ve lost them. Maybe forever. Pacing is critical. The build up of tension is critical. Pretty much everything is critical. If you’ve got something in there that isn’t critical, you should probably take it out.

I recently got hooked on a series that I could not put down. The first book was free, but I liked it so much that I paid full price for the rest. My expectations for the finale, book six, were high. But guess what? That finale moment of tension and resolution sucked in book six! The author simply explained what happened. Talk about a letdown. I wasn’t just disappointed. I was pissed. And if I hadn’t been reading it on my iPhone, I would have thrown it across the room.

So now I’m paranoid. Maybe a little more than I should be. I’ve been struggling with this particular aspect of The Tattooed Angel for longer than I’m going to admit. It isn’t that I don’t know what’s going to happen, but making it happen in an explosive, tension-filled way that leaves the reader breathless (are my expectations too high?)–that’s freaking hard. And all I know to do is to keep working on it until I get it right. Or I die of old age.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? If you’ve got suggestions on how to get through it, don’t be shy. For now, I’ve got to return to the sixteenth century and save my heroine (in a way that will leave you breathless) before the bad guys get her.

See ya later!

Enhanced by Zemanta

About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan. http://www.meetup.com/Arizona-Writers-Workshop-com http://twitter.com/#!/themodernscribe
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ericjbaker says:

    My concern is not raising the stakes. We can write in as many stakes as we want (thanks to the limitless special-effects budget we writers get to enjoy). Like you described, I want to resolve the conflict in a way that is satisfying for the reader, unpredictable, and means something to the character. I’ll see if i can pull it off when I get there.

  2. Liz M. says:

    Errrghh! I DO get it, and it is hard. I think being aware that it’s needed is half the battle, though, so hang in there!

  3. Since I don’t write novels, I’m of little use to you, Diana (and that pains me deeply given all the help you’ve been to me). My general advice would be to talk to yourself in the mirror. I find that I resolve so many problems that seem daunting to me by standing in front of a mirror and having a “heart-to-heart” with my reflection. Out loud.

    Just make sure no one can hear you. Your reflection, if it’s anything like mine, if FULL of great suggestions that I could never come up with on my own. I’m serious!

    • Liz M. says:

      Sounds weird, Lorna, but I’m definitely going to try it. We desperate writers know we’ll try anything!
      Diana, I miss our meetings so much, and I’ve also noticed that, even saving the time spent reading and critiquing others’ work, I get a lot less writing done. Advice to all: Join a critique group!

  4. I’m going to take your suggestion–if only to see if I can get through it without laughing!
    Seriously, your support means a lot. Thanks!

  5. Lafemmeroar says:

    Wish I had suggestions for you, but I don’t 😦 Sometimes giving yourself some away time from your work will give you a fresh perspective …. good luck with it!

  6. hawleywood40 says:

    I struggled with this in my book, and don’t have advice exactly since I’m still in the editing phase and when i get there may decide it still needs more work. But I think reading that 6th book in the otherwise good series was a bit of good luck or fate. Because for me, sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something right is to unintentionally find an example of someone doing it wrong. It steers me away from the same path. Also, I do think a little break is good. I like stepping away for some time to clear my head and then re-reading as objectively as I can, trying to let a movie play out in my head as I do and asking myself whether or not I’d be glad I spent my time on watching it if it WAS a movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s