The Alternative Story wrote:LadyBug3 wrote:Hi TAS,
What do you mean by 'building tension'? I read in your book about it and can understand but how to get a child to understand it better?
Most children do not know how to build tension, their stories
tend to jump from one point to the next or they tend
to solve the problem too quickly and as a result the
stories are not gripping.
I heard a creaking sound in the house. I wandered
downstairs and saw, to my horror, a masked man. He must be
a burglar! I stood rooted to the ground, I was shaking with fear.
The burglar suddenly turned and saw me. He advanced towards
me and then he caught me and gagged me.
In the above example, the writing seems good in the sense that
it has no grammar mistake and there is a smattering of
good vocabulary used, however, as a reader, you are not
gripped by the problem. The tension in the story is not built
up, the burglar catches the main character too fast.
Here is another example of the same story but one where
the tension is built up:
Creak..creak. What was that? I heard a strange creaking
sound come from the ground floor. There was no one else
at home. My parents had gone for a holiday. Was it a ghost,
a burglar or simply a stray cat?
Shivering, I tiptoed down the stairs. The hall and dining room
were dark and forbidding. Shadows loomed in the corners.
Just as I reached out to switch on the lights to dispel
the gloom, I heard the floorboard creak again.
Turning around, I saw a masked man advancing towards me.
Petrified, I stood rooted to ground, too frightened to move.
With a sneer on his face, the man came nearer and nearer.
I had to escape. I had to. I forced my trembling legs to move.
"Get back here!" the masked man threatened.
Without a backward glance, I ran up the stairs, slammed the
bedroom door shut and opened the window to call for help.
In this example, the tension is built by slowing increasing the
intensity of the problems the character faces:
1) Heard a creaking noise
2) The character is alone at home and in a
- being alone makes it more scary for the character and being
in a big house makes the source of the sound harder to pin down,
you need some time before you discover who or what caused the
3) The rooms were dark and shadows loomed in the corners,
making the character more fearful
4) Just before the light is switched on, the creaking sound is
5) The character finally finds the source of the sound-
the masked man
6) The masked man advances
7) The character bolts for the bedroom
At this point, the masked man has yet to catch the character.
Unlike the other example, where the problem escalates too fast,
here the intensity of the problem slowly increases, thus
making it more gripping for the reader.
You can get your child to do this when he writes, get him to think of
how he can increase the intensity of a problem slowly and write down
the points of increasing intensity before writing his story.
Thank you TAS for the clear explanation. I do not have the time to look through your old treads but I heard there is a lot of good stuff on synthesis, grammar etc. Do you mind if you can type out the links here? Thank you very very much!