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.

Steamiest Couple Contest

It’s time to vote once again! Today we’re voting on the steamiest couple from some of your favorite new books!

Check out the nominees and vote on the Rafflecopter below!

Prince Cole and Princess Samantha

Fate War: Alliance by EM Havens

Love is not easy, and especially for Prince Cole and Princess Samantha. Their relationship begins with a forced marriage and only deteriorates from there. Because of the experiences in his past, Cole is determined to at least have a companionable relationship with Samantha. She makes that nearly impossible though. Over the weeks Cole draws out Sam out of her preconditioned shell and eventually into his arms. He lights a fire in her mind and her heart. Together they make sparks fly in the tinker shop and the bedroom. 

Vanessa and Ketchup

Wicked Hunger by DelSheree Gladden

Vanessa’s nearly uncontrollable hunger for pain and suffering has cost her more than she cares to explain. Losing her parents is a wound that will never heal. Watching her brother suffer in a psychiatric ward kills her. Losing Ketchup, it might have been the straw that broke her, but she has a small fragment of hope she clings to that one day she’ll have him back keeps her going. There must be a way to calm her brother, Zander’s hunger enough that he doesn’t want to kill Ketchup every time he sees him. It’s either that, or Van will have to choose between her one remaining sibling and the man she loves. 
Ketchup doesn’t understand half of what Van goes through on a daily basis. He’s seen her do amazing things, scary things, but he isn’t running away. He never will. Van may not be willing to share everything about her dark past with him, but he understands more than she knows. He sees how much the burden of who she is weighs on her every day and he intends to do everything in his power to share the pain and despair she carries. Nothing she could ever tell him will make him leave. He just wishes he could make Van understand that and trust him with her secrets. 

Santangelo and Nicola

Sugar Man’s Daughter by Lucy Crowe

Nic and Santangelo refused to participate in this contest, and in fact, suggested I seek counseling in order to overcome this constant desire for the limelight. They also expressed scorn when I threatened to have Johnny Depp and Penny Lane (of “Almost Famous” fame) stand in for them – Santangelo is more muscular than Depp, and definitely more Spanish. Nic wouldn’t be caught dead in that fur coat.
And so, in frustration – and okay, I’ll admit it, partly in retaliation – I turned to Disney, and I have to say I am pleased with the results. Aladdin is, indeed, the perfect Santangelo, and should my novel ever be animated (not likely, alas, given its somewhat dark and adult content) I would love to see him in the leading role. Like my character, he is quick and bright, and has a rather questionable reputation – beneath it all, an absolute prince. Not to mention, sexy as all get-out. And Rapunzel – the perfect Nic, all golden curls and bright eyes, sweet and bad tempered, too. My character is trapped her own tower as well, figuratively speaking. 
And so, ladies and gents, I offer you . . . ta-daa! . . . The Steamiest Couple! 

Braden and Libby

The Destroyer Trilogy by DelSheree Gladden

Guardian Braden was sent to capture, and if necessary kill, Libby’s boyfriend, Milo. Libby is meant to destroy the world, and the Guardians are her prime enemy. Not exactly a recipe for romance, right? Well, it wouldn’t be if not for the strange force compelling these two to stay in contact. Terrified of the connection, Libby does everything she can to keep Braden at a distance, but she has to admit, that boy is persistent! And his persistence is hard to resist. 
Braden has no intention of letting Libby get away from him, and it’s no longer a professional interest. His mission was to find a way to kill her. It took barely more than a few minutes watching her fight to save a friend’s life for him to know everything the Guardians had taught him about the Destroyer was a lie. Now, h’s fighting to protect her without the Guardians finding out he’s double crossed them. Braden knows protecting Libby may cost him everything, including his life, but he has no doubt it’s worth it. 

Vote now for your favorite Steamy Couple!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Character Artwork: Wicked Hunger by DelSheree Gladden

Who is Vanessa Roth? 

Vanessa Roth is more than your average teenage girl. Every day she battles a wicked hunger for pain and suffering. She would love her answer to be something simple, but simple and average aren’t even in her vocabulary most days. 

Find out more about Van and her battle to overcome her hunger in 

Wicked Hunger 

by DelSheree Gladden. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaways, Contests, and more!

Who’s ready for some fun?

With the release of Wicked Hunger, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in promoting. It’s been a lot of work, but a lot of fun too! Now I’m passing on the fun to my fans!! Keep reading to find out more about the contests and giveaways going on right now. 

Wicked Hunger Autographed Copy Giveaway!

Just click on the button below to enter the Goodreads giveaway of 3 signed copies of Wicked Hunger. Time is almost up, so hurry!

.goodreadsGiveawayWidget { color: #555; font-family: georgia, serif; font-weight: normal; text-align: left; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; background: white; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidget img { padding: 0 !important; margin: 0 !important; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidget a { padding: 0 !important; margin: 0; color: #660; text-decoration: none; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidget a:visted { color: #660; text-decoration: none; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidget a:hover { color: #660; text-decoration: underline !important; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidget p { margin: 0 0 .5em !important; padding: 0; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidgetEnterLink { display: block; width: 150px; margin: 10px auto 0 !important; padding: 0px 5px !important; text-align: center; line-height: 1.8em; color: #222; font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; border: 1px solid #6A6454; border-radius: 5px; font-family:arial,verdana,helvetica,sans-serif; background-image:url(; background-repeat: repeat-x; background-color:#BBB596; outline: 0; white-space: nowrap; } .goodreadsGiveawayWidgetEnterLink:hover { background-image:url(; color: black; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer; }

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wicked Hunger by DelSheree Gladden

Wicked Hunger

by DelSheree Gladden

Giveaway ends July 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Twin Souls “Like” Contest

Twin Souls needs more “Likes” on Facebook, so we’re having a contest! 

At 100 Likes we’ll be giving away a signed bookmark! 

At 300 Likes we’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of Twin Souls!

At 1000 Likes we’ll be giving away signed copies of ALL 3 books in the Twin Souls Saga!

So, stop by the Twin Souls Facebook Page and enter to win, and don’t forget to invite your friends to like the page also!

The Destroyer Trilogy “Like” Contest

The Destroyer Trilogy is already over 500 likes, but we’d like to make it 1000! 

Stop by The Destroyer Trilogy FB Page and like to the page to enter for a chance to win autographed copies of the ENTIRE series! 

And don’t forget to invite your friends so the prizes get handed out sooner 🙂 


Thanks to everyone for checking out the Giveaways and Contests!

Stop back by soon for more contests and giveaways, including a book trailer contest!