02 November 2009

Tracking Conflict, Tension, and Suspense

The Plot Planner I create for writers during an On-going Plot Phone Consultations (and encourage all writers to create for on their own for their individual writing project) is simply a line that divides scenes into "above the line" scenes and "below the line scenes."

Characters grow and change based on the Dramatic Action they experience during the story. If the action is simply action with no conflict, tension, or suspense, the story does not move and the character does not grow.

In today's consultation, the writer has a tagline that is so snappy and compelling, it could sell the project alone. I was excited to hear more about his character who, based on the Character Emotional Development Profile, fits my favorite definition of a great protagonist = a strong, flawed character unafraid of taking big risks and willing to show a bit of a dark side (This writer's protagonist hasn't shown the dark side yet. When we plot out the 2nd half of the project, I'll be curious to find out whether a dark side emerges... or not.)

The plot for his project works, but the execution scene-by-scene falls short. Too many scenes fall "below the line." The potential for popping them above the line is terrific so long as when he writes the next draft, the writer focuses on writing the scenes from this new point of view = creating conflict, tension, and suspense and /or curiosity in every single scene. Well... I exaggerate. A story benefits from quieter scenes, too, but even those "below the line scenes" create more intensity and depth if they have a pallor of tension, a hint of conflict, a whisper of overarching suspense (Gawd, I can tell I'm tired...).

For more Plot Tips on creating scenes above and below the line, go to:

International-Plot-Writing-Month-Day_26 (NOTE: this is a day from last year's International Plot Writing Month that takes place in December and is designed to support writers who are in the process of creating the rough draft of their stories now in NaNoWriMo)

Second Draft

Elements of Plot

Plot & Subplots

Character Development and Dramatic Action

(NOTE: For more articles about creating conflict, tension, and suspense, go to the top, right corner of this webpage and in the white, rectangular box write tag words for what you're interested learning more.)
(NOTE: Another critical element of a good plot that reveals itself on a Plot Planner is Cause and Effect. For a simplistic definition, visit my Twitter.