Tension and conflict will keep your reader engaged in every scene. Knowing the difference and when to use each will drive your story forward.
Tension is the threat of something bad happening. This creates suspense.
Tension can be subtle or in-your-face.
Subtle Tension: Imagine one character is hiding a secret that could destroy his life and another character is about to accidentally spill the secret. The reader will feel the tension if you’ve set up the scene so that the reader knows the second character can’t keep a secret.
In-your-face Tension: A woman is thrown off a boat at sea. The tension comes if the reader cares about the character and wants her to survive. Or the tension could be she’s an evil woman who is about to destroy the world, and the reader doesn’t want her to survive.
Conflict is the fight that is actually happening. A…
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