I'm working on Chapter 8 (of 12) on my 2nd draft. This is the window in the book where my hero and heroine have stopped fighting (external conflict is a moot point) and they are busy falling in love. I hate this part of the book. It's the dreaded middle where it sags and limps along and all sorts of tender emotions sweep in to change them into better people. Blah, blah blah.


Well, only partially kidding. This is where the book's pacing tends to slow. The characters are more introspective. This is a great place to put backstory. This is where nine times out of ten if I put down the book and am not be intrigued enough to pick it up again, the author has failed to instill enough tension in the scenes that follow the hero and heroine making love for the first time. Sexual tension ebbs.

And if you pay attention, you'll find the longer it takes for the hero and heroine to make love, the more likely there's not enough internal conflict to sustain the book.

Yesterday, I returned the entries I judged for the Finally a Bride contest. This particular contest is interesting because the entries must have finalled in a contes, but not won. With this in mind, I expected a higher quality of writing and I wasn't disappointed.

That being said, I did notice one thing lacking in 3 of the 4 entries. Tension.

In preparation for attending Donald Maass' workshop next weekend, I bought his workbook for Writing the Breakout Novel. I glanced through the workbook last night, paying special attention to the exercises that help increase the book's tension.

Here's one of his exercises: As briefly as possible, write down the novel's overt and outward central conflict or problem. What would make this problem worse? Write down as many reasons as possible. Now, what would make this problem worse yet?
What circumstances would cause the protag to fail to solve the problem?

This exercise will show how the stakes can be raised. If the stakes are raised, can tension be far behind?

I've dug pretty deep into my current WIP. But after reading this exercise, I had to wonder if there was further I could go. The answer is yes.

Here are three pictures that are filled with tension, yet nothing is actually happening. Tension can come from the anticipation of trouble. How can you worry your reader?

Today's goal: work on chapter 8
Yesterday's achievement: I received my preliminary scores from PASIC Book Of Your Heart Contest. I got 34&35 (out of a possible 35).
What I'm grateful for: A huge boost of confidence from above.
Quote: "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value." -
Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

This one's my favorite.

See the baby giving the huge python a bath. Yikes!