Wednesday, 24 December 2014

12 days of writing: tension & stakes

This Christmas, sneak off for twenty minutes to half an hour each day for some lovely, restful creative play with the 12 Days of Writing. If you've just joined in, start your story here. Each day, you get a new prompt to develop it further. (Subscribe to the blog on the top right to get it emailed to you.)

Arranging events for rising tension & stakes



You'll need: lots of post-it strips - I cut square post-its into 1-inch strips. Different colours are nice if you're an obsessive colour-coder like me, but not essential, and you could always use felt-tips to colour-code. If post-its are impossible to come by, just chop some strips of paper.

Over the last 6 days, you've generated all sorts of events and bits in your story - you're going to start shuffling them into a rough order now, for maximum tension and stakes.

First, flick through your notebook and jot each event / snippet on its own post-it strip. Don't worry about the order while you're doing that, just collect them all. (To keep the time in check, give yourself about 10 mins for this bit.)

Next, start putting them in order in your notebook. Use these guiding principles...

  • Things get progressively worse and bigger
  • Each development makes it matter more.
  • Move your character away from success. 

If your story has an element of mystery, sometimes it helps to number the clues in little runs of what gives away what, to help sort out their order.


Tomorrow we'll play with Beginnings. If you want to share what you invent, tweet me @WritersGreenHse. I'd love to hear.

For more on exploring and enriching stories, you can download the Story Elements: The Complete Set - only available until the end of 30 December 2014. Find out more, see previews, and download it here.

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