Posted in books, creative writing, date shark series, eliza carlisle mystery, someone wicked this way comes, the arcane wielders series, the destroyer trilogy, the handbook series, wicked hunger, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Creating consistent and engaging tension that will keep the reader’s attention

Tension is key to keeping the reader interested!

Tension is what keeps a reader interested in the progression of the story. If the reader doesn’t feel any concern about how the story will end, they will lose interest. Below are some tactics for creating tension.

Character-related tension: When developing characters, there must be points of tension built into their character arc. This often includes goals they will struggle to reach, important consequences or stumbling blocks they will face, personality traits that lead to choices that hurt themselves or others, or backstories that create barriers to success.

In my Destroyer Series, Libby Sparks knows her inquest will reveal secrets she been trying to keep hidden her entire life. In the chapter leading up to inquest, her thoughts are consumed with what will happen once she’d revealed, and whether she’ll survive the night.

Opposing goals that create tension: A single character may have opposing goals (high profile career and stable family life), or multiple characters may have opposing goals that interfere with the other person’s goals (both want the same partner or job). This doesn’t have to be just in the form of the protagonist/antagonist. Characters involved may go back and forth between the two roles.

Sanford and Dahlia have opposing goals in the opening of Life & Being. Sanford is determined to reconnect with Dahlia and warn her of increased police activity on campus after witnessing a suspicious exchange between and another student. All Dahlia wants is to be left alone with her secrets until she can escape her father and his ever-tightening control. Their goals start to align once they both start to realize nothing either of them believed is actually true, but their early opposition creates a great deal of tension between them on all levels.

Raise the stakes: As soon as a character reaches a milestone, present a new complication to reaching the next one. There should, of course, be lulls between points of tension to give the reader a break, but the overall tension should continue to rise as the story progresses toward the climax. When outlining, be sure to pair every step toward development with a stumbling block.

Eliza Carlisle can’t get a break from the stakes being raised in any the mysteries she’s involved with. After spending five years in hiding, she comes to New York to attend culinary school (a major milestone for her!) only to realize she’s moved into the most bizarre building in the city. Just as she makes peace with the fact that she can’t afford anything else, a neighbor turns up dead.

Question-related tension: Never make the path to success or the HEA so obvious that the reader never questions it. Problems and complications should push the reader to ask how the character will resolve or overcome a challenge. A unique story arc should always have the reader questioning how the characters will reach the end, even if they “know” it will end happily.

Everything Kate says or does creates questions for Sam in Torino Dreams. Her past is a mystery, as are her sudden disappearances. Even when she finally begins to open up to Sam, more questions arise about how she can possibly survive what’s coming after her and her adopted son.

Tension though internal/external conflict: Most stories need a balance of internal and external conflict. As a character overcomes an internal conflict (establishing self-confidence), present an external one (a parent is diagnosed with an illness). Allow flaws and weaknesses to complicate the character’s path of development by letting them make bad or hurtful choices. This forces them to reevaluate themselves and their goals or priorities. External conflict takes the story out of the character’s hands, briefly, and puts the focus back on the story arc.

In The Crazy Girl’s Handbook, Greenly faces both types of conflict in order to keep the tension (and laughs) going. Argeeing to babysit her nephews puts her face-to-face with blind date she bailed on, thanks to her sister’s games. She not only has to battle her own self-perceptions and fears about relationships, the universe seems out to get her with one mishap after another, including Roman’s angry ex-wife.

Remove filler to improve tension: Evaluate scenes for their relevance and importance. Lulls in tension are important, because they give the reader time to process and think about the characters and story between points of tension, but if a scene is merely filler and accomplishes neither tension nor contemplation, it will only slow the tension to the point that readers might lose interest.

Withholding information to create tension: Only give the reader as much information as they need in a scene to understand it. Hold back enough to urge them to keep reading and get to the next scene. This is especially important with revealing backstory or mystery/suspense elements.

Uriah and Claire spend almost the entire Twin Souls series dealing with withheld information. Their tribe’s myths and legends are a part of their heritage, but they discover step-by-step that most of what they grew up believing are either lies or have been twisted to mislead. The reader leans bits and pieces along with them, unraveling the mystery of Claire and Uriah’s bond one page at a time.

Time-related tension: Putting a deadline on a goal creates an overarching tension. Don’t just set a deadline and forget about it, though. Find ways to remind the reader of the deadline AND what’s at risk if the deadline isn’t met.

Date Shark Eli Walsh is put on a deadline when his friend Ana discovers he’s falling for the woman she asked him to help by acting as her dating coach. If he doesn’t fulfill his promise to Ana, she’ll end her friendship with him and make sure Leila cuts him off as well.

Wicked Hunger, book 1 of Someone Wicked Series

Use pacing to improve tension: Be aware of pacing when considering tension. A scene only needs to last as long as it takes to relay information and provide character/story development. Start and end with action in each scene and skip the day-to-day elements that don’t add anything. Also, match the scene length to the type of tension. High tension scenes tend to be shorter and more explosive, while scenes that reveal something slowly are usually longer and build progressively.

The Someone Wicked This Way Comes Series is filled with tense battles and moments of contemplation while Zander and Vanessa Roth struggle to control their frightening powers and learn the truth of where they came from. Where the battles are intense and concise, the moments where they’re investigating or exploring their love interests give the reader time to take in the information more slowly.

Posted in book covers, books, cover design, delsheree gladden, ebooks, eliza carlisle mystery, mystery

Eliza Carlisle is Back and Stirring Up Trouble

Exciting news for Eliza Carlisle fans!

The Catalyst is available again (post-Kindle World rewrite version) for purchase as an ebook on Kindle, B&N, and Smashwords. Apple Books and Kobo are coming soon as well! The Catalyst is also available in paperback for the first time!

Catalyst reboot available now

Looking after Eliza Carlisle is about as easy as bathing a cat!

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MORE exciting news is that book 4, Incendiary, is close to being finished and will be released in early 2019!

Here’s a sneak peek!

Incendiary (Coming Soon)

Eliza Carlisle Mystery, Book 4

Incendiary FRONT

How long can Eliza keeping looking over her shoulder before she finally sees her own death approaching?

New Year’s means resolutions, getting on track, making decisions.

For Eliza Carlisle, starting a new year means making tough choices, even if those decisions mean losing friends and possibly getting kicked out of culinary school. She’s all set to take her life in a new direction when her demented half-brother Simon’s reappearance changes everything.

Broken and more alone than she’s been since fleeing her childhood home, Eliza struggles to hang onto the fragile threads that are holding her life together. Only a comically disastrous young chef and the threats against her life pull Eliza out of her fog of self-loathing. Saving seven-year-old Clara means ignoring the threat Simon now poses and surrendering to burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and whipped cream-splattered kitchens…not to mention family secrets, death threats, and a whole host of spy gadgets. And who can forget about Baxter?

With so much mounted against her, Eliza has as much chance of surviving the criminal elite, her psychotic half-brother, and Baxter’s determined advances as she does escaping Chef Harper’s quest to kill her culinary dreams.

Posted in books, eliza carlisle mystery, giveaway, mystery

Catch your breath #giveaway!

To celebrate the next installment of Eliza Carlisle’s adventures, the first book in the series, TROUBLE MAGNET has joined up with a handful of other awesome mysteries to give readers some #freebooks and a chance to win a super cute dragon book bag!

Catch Your Breath share 1-bag

Readers get to choose which books they want to download and which authors they’d like to follow, AND enter to win the book bag.

If you haven’t read Eliza’s first foray into craziness and murder, you can grab a copy of TROUBLE MAGNET free through this promotion. If you’re all too familiar with Eliza’s knack for getting into dangerous but funny situations, grab a few mysteries from these lovely authors:

https://mybookcave.com/g/7040684d/

Woman pointing a gun at the target on dark background, selective

Posted in eliza carlisle mystery, giveaway

#Giveaway Time! #ezlizacarlislemystery

I’m trying out the new giveaway feature with Amazon that now allows ebooks to be offered up as prizes, so here goes!

Pop over to Amazon and enter to win an ebook copy of TROUBLE MAGNET the first book in the Eliza Carlisle Mystery series.

Eliza Win

Eliza Carlisle has the unwanted talent of attracting trouble, in all its forms. That couldn’t be truer than when she moves into the most bizarre apartment building on the planet. Weekly required dinners with the landlord and assigned chores are bad enough, but the rules don’t end there. Top most on the list of requirements is NO physical violence against the others residents.

There have been issues.

In the past.

The young manager, Sonya, claims that hasn’t been a problem recently, but Eliza comes home from her first day of culinary school to find a dead resident, her next door neighbor looking good for the crime, and a cop that seems more interested in harassing her than solving the case.

All Eliza wanted was to escape her past and start over, completely anonymous in a big city. That’s not going to be so easy when the killer thinks she’s made off with a valuable piece of evidence everyone is trying to get their hands on. The ultimatum that she turn it over to save her own life creates a small problem. Eliza has no idea what the killer wants, or where the mysterious object might be.

If she can’t uncover a decades old mystery in time, surviving culinary school will be the least of her problems.

Eliza Cat Baxter.jpg

 

Posted in eliza carlisle mystery, mystery, new release

Eliza Carlisle Mystery Series Update

Before anyone asks, yes I am also working on Wicked Revenge and am hoping to have a mid-April release date, but I did have a few other deadlines to meet before then, including this one:

The Eliza Carlisle Mystery series is one I’m really excited about. The first book, TROUBLE MAGNET, will be releasing next month, and a crossover novella called THE CATALYST will also release next month as part of the Sydney Rye Kindle World.

More on that later.

For now…

I’d love people’s thought on the blurb for TROUBLE MAGNET, which is a humorous murder mystery. Let me know if it intrigues you, needs work, etc.

Trouble Magnet

Trouble MagnetEliza Carlisle has the unwanted talent of attracting trouble, in all its forms. That couldn’t be truer than when she moves into the most bizarre apartment building on the planet. Weekly required dinners with the landlord and assigned chores are bad enough, but the rules don’t end there. Top most on the list of requirements is NO physical violence against the others residents.

There have been issues.

In the past.

The young manager, Sonya, claims that hasn’t been a problem recently, but Eliza comes home from her first day of culinary school to find a dead resident, her next door neighbor looking good for the crime, and a cop that seems more interested in harassing her than solving the case.

All Eliza wanted was to escape her past and start over, completely anonymous in a big city. That’s not going to be so easy when the killer thinks she’s made off with a valuable piece of evidence everyone is trying to get their hands on. The ultimatum that she turn it over to save her own life creates a small problem. Eliza has no idea what the killer wants, or where the mysterious object might be.

If she can’t uncover

Let me know what you think!