Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Breaking the tension

... or, more specifically, fighting the urge to do so.

Having speculated a fair bit recently on some of my Bad Writing Habits (procrastination, making unfounded assumptions, flitting between UK and US phrasing... the list goes on) I thought I'd write a post about one of my worst: inserting humour at a critical point in a really tense scene, completely bursting the stress-bubble I've managed to create for my characters.

And this is very, very wrong.

As a reader, you want the tension to remain taut 'n' fraught until the scene reaches its climax, at which point you can release that long-held breath. I get it, I'm the same. The thing is, when I'm writing I tend to make my protags react the way I would in real life (without really thinking about it - another Bad Writing Habit).

*Note to self: I am NOT my characters!!

I try and iron all this out in the editing, but some little snarky bits still slip through. Luckily, that's where my critical friends - armed with swords and catchers mitts - storm in to demand I take the scene more seriously.

"You can't have a boob joke there - she's facing down a serial killer!"

So I move my boob jokes around (or just cut them entirely - I'm not that big on the boob jokes, honestly) and end up - I hope - with a nice bit of angst and tension keeping the reader sucked into the story.

And that's what you want, right? A sucked-in reader is far preferable to one who doesn't really get torn up when the serial killer runs over the female protag's dog because they're still laughing at the lame joke. The dog was cute, prone to saving children from burning buildings and such.

So that's what I'll keep telling myself: it's not funny! I NEED TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL BAD ABOUT THE DOG!

Outs x x