My local writers group, Front Range Christian Fiction Writers, is currently working our way through Donald Maass’ book, The Fire In Fiction. And I’m the first to admit that I’ve been reading ahead. All the way to chapter 8 where he talks about having layers of tension in the story.

Tension all the time.
As a writer, it’s a way to keep the reader invested in my characters. Who will win this verbal exchange? Will they achieve their goal? Will they find peace or will they continue to be tormented by that nasty antagonist?
But in real life? I’d LOVE a tension-free day.
I have three kids at home (ages 6, 12 and 13). Factor in the sibling squabbles, homework delays (and excuses), messy rooms, whining, interruptions, and broken rules. Tension? We’re full of it.
Not only that, I live in a constant state of tension as my goals and desires stack up against work demands and limited time. Should I work first or write? Scrapbook or watch my favorite TV show? Take a nap or exercise? Edit this or critique that? Or shelve it all and read a book from the to-be-read stack before it teeters off onto the floor?
And underlying it all? The constant longing for heaven. This fallen planet — full of chronic disease, genetic mutations, and sinful mankind making their own selfish decisions — is not my home. I hold joint citizenship and this is not my final destination.
Hmmm. Maybe tension all the time is a good thing after all.
What about you? What level of tension do you have? Is there such a thing as “good” tension?
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Tension All the Time
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