Five ways to create tension in your novel
1. Ask a question and don’t answer it
I like to raise the question on the first page and answer it on the last. To me, this is what forms the structure of a novel, whether the question is ‘what secret is this character keeping?’ or ‘how is this character going to resolve their tricky situation?’ If you can figure out your novel’s central question, you have figured out its hook. Then, do everything you can not to answer it until the closing pages, be that placing obstacles in the way of the solution or problems that make it worse.
2. Figure out what the worst possible thing to happen to your main character is
4. Create an impossible situation
5. Answer some questions along the way
There has to be give and take when reading a novel. It’s not fair on the reader to ask one question and answer it at the end (contrary to what I say above) because they will have to read four hundred pages otherwise before getting any answers. I liken it to Hansel and Gretel. You need to breadcrumb the reader to the ending, leaving little clues and little pieces of information to keep them reading.
Gillian graduated with an English degree in 2006 and is now a lawyer with a large law firm. Her blog has been featured in various publications including Company magazine and Gillian is represented by literary agent Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson. Gillian tweets @GillianMAuthor and blogs at www.gillianmcallister.com
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The Bath Novel Award & The Bath Children’s Novel Award are international prizes which aim to shine a light on emerging novelists. Each offers a £2,000 prize, along with a £500 shortlist prize and the opportunity to be introduced to literary agents. To date, 75% of winning & shortlisted writers have accepted offers of representation, with 50% going on to win traditional publishing deals, most recently a six figure pre-empt: literary agent offers and book deals
NOW OPEN: The Bath Children’s Novel Award
OPEN FROM 1 DEC 2016: The Bath Novel Award