I am an intense person. Those of you who have ventured over to my other blog, Growing Up Gifted, know this about me. As a result, my characters are intense. Or at least, they experience intense things within their stories. But I do this, not because they are offshoots of my personality.
No, I do this because it creates better drama.
I do not write humor. Or Chick Lit. Or Literary Fiction.
I write YA. And YA is a unique genre (check out Beth Revis’ great post on this). As a result, my stories have a highly dramatic story arc. I am into fast pacing, page turning action and high intensity.
Which got me thinking about how someone goes about creating drama within the story. Like everything, I think it starts with creating characters I care about. But not just the protagonist. The antagonist as well. Oh sure, I may really really hate the character – but the key is I FEEL something for them – good or bad.
Once I have a strong enough sense of the characters that I have an emotional reaction to them, plot and pacing take over. This is where the story arc is key. Take too long to get to the first turning point and I have lost interest. Likewise, rush the development too much and I also lose interest.
Dramatic action is built in these sections.
But it is always the key to the climax. For me, a great climax involves characters that I care about, who have moved through a plot that is interesting and has forced the characters to face really hard things, and now must face something that has the potential to change them forever. Something HUGE.
When I find myself frustrated with the section of a story, it is usually because the characters have not been pushed beyond their breaking point – there is nothing at stake. Drama is born when the stakes are high…very high.
What about you guys? What makes good drama and tension?