Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while will have noticed I talk about Cat a lot. (It’s usually when I’m struggling though an idea and she’s said something illuminating.) She is my writing buddy and crit partner extraordinaire, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

We met in a poetry class at uni. Cat thought much more of my poems than I did, and her terse, hilarious, clever poetry wasn’t what I’d expected this very friendly woman to write. We both gave up poetry, which is likely a good thing.

She was the first person to read the first draft of My Lady Untamed, back when it was called The Three Loves of Miss Beatrice Sutherland and Miss Beatrice Sutherland was kind of a snivelling doormat. She encouraged me, even then. And then she introduced me to Lymond.

These days we write together three days a week, 10-5. We know each other’s work inside-out, and have gotten pretty damn good at feeling out when our brainstorming is sparking something and when the other person’s just drawing a blank. Our coffee breaks are full of writing conversation; our particular loves are Dunnett and Vampire Diaries.

Cat published the first two books of Captive Prince as an online serial (it’s still live), and she’s been working the past couple of months on getting them ready for self-publication as e- and paper books. The amount of work and self will that has gone into the process is incredible and very inspiring.

I would tell you about why I love her books, but her post is going to do it for me. It’s a master class in tension. It’s the kind of insight I get every week. And no, you can’t have her.



I love tension. I love long scenes between characters in which the tension rises and rises. My favourite author is Dorothy Dunnett, and she is the master of tension, especially in her later books, with scenes that run for twenty pages or more, in which the tension is not only sustained, it is also continually escalated–the holy grail of tension.

“How do you create tension in your writing?” is a question I am continually investigating. I’m not certain there is a simple formula, but there is certainly a single, unavoidable truth:

If you want tension in your story you have to 1) create it and 2) sustain it.

Creating it is easier than sustaining it. Sustaining tension for me becomes exponentially more difficult the longer I try to sustain it, and the stronger the tension that I am trying to sustain. I am often wrestling with a variety of techniques in order to try to push my tension higher or sustain tension through a longer scene.

I feel like I’m only at the beginning of my understanding of tension, and I still have many secrets to unlock. But for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how tension works, and some of the ways to create it and sustain it in writing.

Creating tension

Tension is something that exists between, usually between two forces, usually between two forces that are in opposition. I think of tension as either ‘push’ tension, like the tension in two bodies that are straining against one another until one of them gives ground, or ‘pull’ tension, like the tension in a rope that is being pulled at each end in a tug of war.

These forces might be two characters with opposing goals (external tension), they might be two opposing desires within one character (internal tension), they might be a character’s desire for a goal and the barrier to that goal. There are multiple possible forces, multiple forms of tension. The goodie versus baddie fight is tense because the force of survival is pitted against the force of annihilation. Sexual tension exists when the force of sexual desire pushes against the force of restraint and/or the obstacle to that desire: we want to but we can’t, or won’t, or musn’t, yet, for some reason. The stronger those forces, the more powerful the tension.

Because tension requires two forces to exist, creating tension means constructing and establishing those forces, then clearly expressing them to the reader. Once the forces are constructed, and the stakes made plain, tension will result. The more clearly the forces are drawn, and the higher the stakes are for the characters, the higher the tension.

One of the ways that I often see this done is by embedding the opposing forces into the characters themselves. That is probably one reason why opposites work so well in fiction: the rule follower and the loose canon, the fighter and the scholar, the Machiavel and the Alexander slicing through the Gordian knot. The hero and the villain. The character who sees things in black and white versus the character who sees things in shades of grey. Opposing archetypes are immediately in tension and have the potential to push or pull forever. One or the other must give way, and yet neither will give way, resulting in tension.

Another way I often see tension created is via the drawing of a boundary (as one force) and an opposing force that can then push against it. I’m going to use a big overblown example from a story that I read recently–

“If you touch me, I’ll kill you,” the character says. *  Tension is created because a clear boundary has been set, as well as clear stakes–life and death, but also pride, if the character backs down.

This is the same technique at work when Elizabeth Bennett says, “You are the last man on earth I would ever marry.” The boundary is clear, and the nature of the force pushing against the boundary, and the stakes–again pride, which is in tension with personal desire and happiness.

Another iteration of the boundary technique, used in an adventure setting, is one Anna discussed with me:  Haymitch telling Katniss never, ever to go to the cornucopia, because she’ll be slaughtered if she does. As soon as necessity forces Katniss to go to the cornucopia, the scene is tense, because she is pushing against a well-defined boundary, with clear stakes. Goal and threat are in tension.

Tension can also be created by the writing itself. That is, the writing can act as a force on the emotions of the scene, holding it back. “I’ll kill you,” he said steadily is more tense than, “I’ll kill you,” he screamed wildly, because the word choice restrains the (obviously) strident emotional content. Calm, strapped-down language acts as a force restraining the force of the emotion, creating tension.

Sustaining tension

There are lots of things that will cause tension to break or drop out, but for my money the three biggest tension-killers are 1) collapsing one of the opposing forces 2) catharsis, and 3) repetition.

Collapsing one of the forces is easy to understand: it’s capitulation, one of the forces giving in to the other. I think it can also happen by accident if one of the forces becomes less clear, less well drawn than the other, so that maintaining forces over time is important for sustaining tension.

Catharsis is the release of strong emotions, which also releases tension. Cathartic acts, such as violence or sex, will let all the tension out of the scene–or even the story–unless you manage to hold the emotion back, somehow, during those scenes. It’s hard, although not impossible, to have your character punch someone in the face in a tense way. The tension exists in the moment before the punch, and rises as the punch is delayed, but is released in the cathartic act, the punch itself. The reason why delaying catharsis increases tension is because the force of emotional release is set against the force of restraint, and those forces increase as the cathartic moment approaches.

Romance writers will know that it is equally hard, though not impossible, to have your characters have sex in a tense way–or, I should say, in a way that maintains sexual tension throughout and after the scene–unless something is held back, some type of catharsis avoided. In both sexual and dramatic contexts, sometimes even cathartic words will let out tension–screamed, wailed, flailed, sobbed, exploded, screeched–any words in which emotional release is implied will release tension from the scene.

Finally, repetition kills tension. “If you touch me I’ll kill you,” is tense, but the second time the character says it, whether to the same person or someone else, it’s a fizzle. In romance parlance, a first kiss has more tension in it than a second kiss, unless there is something new about the second kiss.

Romance provides a good case study here because readers are familiar with the way that the romantic narrative is often written as a series of firsts: first touch, first kiss, first oral sex, first penetrative sex, first whichever act remains that we haven’t got around to yet. The acts can occur in any order, but repetition will cause a drop in tension, unless there is some other tension in play, some emotional first to substitute for the physical first.

Emotional repetition is an easier trap to fall into than physical repetition, but even deadlier to tension. The second time the emotional note is played it will lack the tension of the first, a reheated dinner. This is the reason why love triangles fall flat when the character oscillates between suitors one too many times, “it’s him, no it’s him, no it’s him, no it’s him.” It’s the reason why unresolved sexual tension goes stale if characters repeat the same moves in the forwards-backwards dance, or rehash an objection when it has already played out the first time.

Because books are usually structured around a character arc or progression from ‘beginning self’ to ‘end self’, to hold tension the writer must order every step in the evolution, a series of notes played one after the other, in the correct sequence, with nothing repeated.

In my own writing, I often ask myself: Can I play this moment later? If the answer is yes, then I reserve the moment for later. If the answer is no, then I know that I’ve found the right moment to play the note. I have a Shakespeare quote inappropriately in my head, If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now. Sorry Hamlet.

Because repetition kills tension, one unexpected side-effect is that tense scenes burn through material, fast. A tense face off between characters will burn through backstory like nothing else.  And once the material is burned, it can never be used again. So sustaining tension also means creating enough material to sustain that tension.

Probably the best example that I can think of is one that only 0.001% of people reading this will be familiar with, nevertheless: the “salt pans” scene in book five of Dunnett’s Niccolo series, in which the books’ primary antagonists face off for the first time. Because it is the first time, the antagonists have five books worth of material to burn through and can hurl increasingly tense verbal exchanges at one another for unbelievable lengths of time. The scene incredibly sustains at defcon one tension levels for three chapters, a tour-de-force that I have never seen another author replicate. It was only because Dunnett saved all her material for that one scene that it was even possible.

I remember setting myself the “Dunnett challenge” of extending my tense face off as long as possible towards the end of book two of Captive Prince. In that scene, my hero faces down a traitor, and the two have a verbal drag-down match that I wanted to run for pages and pages, and be as tense as possible. I made it to eight pages, at which point I had burned through all the usable material that I had, including a twist I had reserved just for that scene, and some huge chunks of backstory. In the end, I just didn’t have enough to sustain any more than that, and I was done.

In this way, it’s much easier to write, say, fan fiction, where if Harry and Draco have a stand off, you have seven books worth of Rowling’s material to burn, everything from, “You imprisoned my family” to “You didn’t shake my hand on the train.” In original fiction, you have to build before you burn.

I think this also shows one of the ways in which tension requires an effort of imagination—the stronger the tension, the stronger the effort of imagination required. It’s not only thinking up burnable material, but also what I think of as “pathfinding”.  Pathfinding works something like this:

Once tension is created, there are three choices: break it, sustain it, or escalate it. Breaking it is easy. Sustaining it is harder. Escalating it is harder still. To use an earlier example, the escalating move on hearing, “If you touch me I’ll kill you,” is to have the other character calmly reach out to touch. ** But once that is done, what happens next? It’s imaginatively very hard work to think of something that doesn’t involve catharsis by violence, collapsing one of the forces by backing down, or repetition.

Escalating in this example might be a dead end, something that you can’t think your way out of as the author, in which case better to go sideways and choose a path that instead sustains the tension at its current level.  “Will you?” is one tension-sustaining rejoinder that springs randomly to mind and so on, picking a path carefully through the dead ends and tension drops.

So, these are my thoughts on tension. I’m curious to hear from other writers about techniques that they use, and from readers, about which books or authors they find do tension well. Or which books are tensionless! Recommendations for books with stellar unresolved sexual tension are always welcome.

* This line did not occur in a sexual context, just FYI—although even as I type this I realise that “If you touch me, I’ll kill you” is embedded into one of my characters (Laurent) as a fundamental romantic character premise, despite him never saying the words aloud

** LOL what even is this example

Note: every comment puts your name in the hat for an accidental housewife e-reader cover!


Comments 35 Responses

  1. Jill

    Awesome!! I really love the story you (Cat) wrote/are currently writing, so getting some more insight into your writing process is super cool. You’ve definitely managed to sustain tension for a looooot of words and a lot of chapters. A lot of tension. Like, so much.

    I’ve never really taken any writing/English courses, except for those that were required, and writing certainly isn’t my main focus in life (I prefer reading other people’s brilliance!). I always thought I understood how hard it could be to write, and write well, but posts like these, plus others you’ve written, make me realize that I should quadruple the amount of effort I imagine goes into writing. There are so may things to think about! I don’t know how you, and all the other writers I admire, manage to keep it all straight. But I’m so glad you do!!
    PS this + the dvd extras should be a thing that happens more 😀 I love hearing about your writing process.

    1. anna cowan Post author

      Cat’s writing process is amazing! I feel like she’s one of those writers, where even when you have her method for creating tension laid out like this, you can’t necessarily see how she does it in the text. Maintaining tension over a whole book trips up so many writers (three-quarter slump, anyone?). I think it’s something we don’t pay enough attention to as part of storytelling, and we’re so lucky to have Cat’s developed thoughts on it.

      1. Jill

        I have to agree! When you read what she’s written (and I’ve had perhaps too much time on my hands to re-re-read) the tension is so obvious and so wonderfully sustained. Reading her mention of sexual catharsis made me laugh. I feel like in her story, perhaps a certain kind of catharsis was reached but tension was still, most definitely, sustained.

        It’s all so intricate! I love it. Especially the part about how repetition can kill tension. I feel like a lot of authors trip up here.

        1. anna cowan Post author

          One of the many things we marvel at in Vampire Diaries is how they’ve sustained a love triangle for coming on four seasons without repeating an emotional beat. Just, how. (We figure they learnt from the Joey/Dawson/Pacey fiasco.)

    2. Cat

      I always thought I understood how hard it could be to write, and write well, but posts like these, plus others you’ve written, make me realize that I should quadruple the amount of effort I imagine goes into writing.

      I always get the impression that there are writers who do it instinctively, who don’t have to break things down or think as much about process, because they hold things like structure instinctively within them. (Or maybe they just make it look easy and it’s really just very very hard for everyone?)

      the dvd extras should be a thing that happens more

      I would love that too! Once the books are published there will be more time for everything.

      1. Jill

        Hmmmm. Maybe? Maybe there are just naturally brilliant writers out there who manage to hold every bit of their story in their head and just have a totally instinctive feel for what works when, and are able to keep things engaging and interesting over the course of so so so many words.

        But I feel like that has to be a small minority of the population. Like 0.1% of writers. And while that’s awesome, it totally doesn’t help anybody else looking to improve their skills.

        Yay, can’t wait for the books! And the covers! Whoohooo, it’s all so exciting.

  2. Erin Satie

    I discovered The Captive Prince this year and it was one of those books that swallowed me whole. I couldn’t put it down. I was in a daze after I read it. Couldn’t even think of starting something new.

    Not surprisingly, since the thing that is the most stunningly, mind-bogglingly wonderful about Captive Prince is the how exquisitely slowly the relationship between the two heroes develops, this blog post is one of the best discussions of tension that I’ve ever read.

    Weirdly, the reference that kept popping to mind as I was reading was Proust (I adore Proust). In the early books of Remembrance of Things Past, Proust introduces all these characters – the Verdurins are the perfect example – for hundreds of pages the narrator mocks the Verdurins, he paints them as the most pathetic, sniveling poseurs ever to walk the face of this earth. And you loathe the Verdurins right along with the narrator. They’re so awful!

    And then, somehow, by the end the Verdurins have become these amazing people doing amazing things, patrons at the center of the avant-garde, fostering the best talent, really influential tastemakers who’ve changed the landscape for the better. The transformation of the Verdurins makes you question everything. Yourself as a reader, the narrator & his (ultimately way less successful) choices, but also the world – the Verdurins really were pretty awful – the effects of time.

    It works because Proust takes his time cementing their awfulness in your head. And you’re so complicit with his dislike.

    I’ve had people recommend Dorothy Dunnett before. Might be time to move her on up my TBR list. Thanks so much for this post!

    1. anna cowan Post author

      Every time a reader says they’re moving Dunnett up the TBR pile, I feel my work here is done.

      Does it say something bad about me that these awful Verdurin types make me finally want to read Proust? Pathetic is one of those adjectives I love. Vicious is another. Cat and I were actually just talking about how insta-lust lets all the tension out of a narrative. If you have a hero/ine who’s presented as awful, scary (pathetic, vicious), that creates tension because you want to see how dislike can possibly become love. But if they’re already attracted to each other, that’s half the battle won. (Unless, of course, you’re very clever and lust and dislike become their own kind of tension.)

      I’m so glad you got a lot out of the post!

    2. Cat

      Thank you for those very kind words about Captive Prince, what a lovely thing to say!

      I’ve never read Remembrance of Things Past but I experienced a similar reader shift with the character of Zora in On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Zora is an officious, argumentative pedant at the start of the book, and in fact remains one throughout, but there is a moment when her unlikeable qualities are harnessed to magnificent effect and are suddenly seen in a different light by the reader. From that moment it’s impossible not to love her, and to love her for her unlikeable qualities, not in spite of them. Bow before the power of Zora’s pedantry!

      My experience is that being complicit in the original dislike made me root for the character in a way that I had never experienced before, maybe because it gave the impression that liking the character was both a more sophisticated position and a very rare position, as opposed to the easy default position, as it is with most likeable characters.

      Dunnett is amazing. Her first series is Lymond, and it’s definitely where you should start. People tend to be more fannish about Lymond than Niccolo because his character is the Ur-Romantic Hero, of a particular archetype. If you love Lymond, you’ll love Lymond. It is her first series, though, and it does have all the fingerprints of her learning still on it, despite the bravura writing, some imperfectly drawn characters, some wonky structural shapes (blasphemy). Niccolo is her mature work of staggering genius that is on another plane of writerly reality, but you should probably read it second, not the least because it is a prequel to Lymond that relies on some knowledge of Lymond-verse to enjoy to its fullest effect.

      1. anna cowan Post author

        I love your comment on On Beauty – the idea that siding with a character who has been perceived wrongly is a much stronger emotional connection than siding with any old heroic type. Making readers love a character *for* their unlikeable qualities is definitely something I aspire to!

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  4. Laura

    Thanks for this very interesting post. I’m not much of a writer as I have an imagination deficit, but I know this discussion will help me be a better beta reader. I know I’ve instinctively noticed problems with tension before, but without knowing how to articulate them or pinpoint the cause (repetition, etc.). This amazing, really.

    It also helps us, your fans, understand some of your methods in writing your much-loved Captive Prince. Now that you lay it all out for us, some of the reasons for the story’s very great appeal become obvious. I hope you’ll continue sharing these gems with us, and we’re all very much looking forward to the books, and to book 3.

  5. SonnyGoten

    I know what it’s like to try to sustain tension! It’s one of the most difficult parts of writing. Usually, I try to give characters opposing motives, but often these either come to converge or the characters escalate and someone dies halfway. Usually happens halfway, too… The only way I know how to resolve this is by starting up multiple backstories, some from the early start and some halfway in the story. If you burn away one story, you can always jump to the next to rebuild tension.

    1. anna cowan Post author

      That’s an excellent point! I do this a lot, too, though I hadn’t articulated it this way to myself. I think one of the tricky parts is making sure the subplots run in the right order so that they work for the narrative arc.

  6. Cindy

    I adore Cat’s Captive Prince, so I was very glad to read this… She makes some good points and it was an enjoyable read. Thank you for posting this.

  7. zemotion

    This post was so incredibly insightful. I think anyone who’s read CP can relate to how easy it is to be read in one breath, again and again. And now that you’ve put it into words I can clearly see how that’s partly due to tension — it’s nice to have a word for it now — in my head, strangely, I’d always thought of it as water that wouldn’t stop flowing. Thank you so very much for sharing. <3

  8. Darwi_Odrade

    I’m not very good at analyzing while I’m reading, but reading this post I couldn’t help but remember some books or stories, some because they were awsome and suddenly I could see some scenes in a different light (obvioulsy Captive Prince’s scenes XD) and some because I lost interest like half way throught and now I can see that most of them were just repeating and lost the tension.

    So very very interesting post, even if I don’t write (well, I do, but for myself and I’m still in the just-play-with-the-words step so….) it’s very…..illuminating I guess 🙂

    Thanks 🙂

    P.D. English isn’t my first languague so sorry for misspelllings, etc.

  9. Mary Ann Vadnais

    Anna–thank you so much for introducing Cat. I love reading and writing and reading writing about craft, and this is such a gloriously meaty and technical post. Love.

    I think the beauty of your piece, Cat, is your organization of the technical elements of tension according to what breaks it–collapse of opposing forces, catharsis, repetition. This is such an approachable way to explicate how tension works; so many readers and writers ascribe hoodoo to the writer who can maintain tension, but really what the writer is doing is keeping an eye on her action so that she doesn’t break it. This is a kind of process AND editing revelation and makes the strings of tension, and where they are broken or frayed, visible–half the battle. All the battle, really.

    Also, your method is customizable to the scope and size of a piece of writing. A Regency spy novel, for example, will have dozens of opportunities to maintain tension in the same way (if I can borrow your music metaphor), a symphony can. A Regency spy novel that fails to keep itself strung tight is the one that limits the scope to the tension between the h/h using, for example, the lies/espionage between them to bolster the opposing forces while every subplot around them is collapsing, in catharsis (multiple murders, maybe), or repeating. Versus something from Joanna Bourne, where it’s impossible to keep from turning the pages because the pay-off of something, anything, *giving* will be so incredibly satisfying. Likewise, a symphony has multiple themes to develop and fail to resolve until the final movement–tension is built through variation (a way to handle repetition, it occurs to me) and arrest (the theme is abandoned at a critical moment–allegro–to build again–largo–without the sonic resolution of either).

    Smaller scope projects, like a novella, could apply your way of thinking most effectively in the planning stage by exploring the right shape or artifice or plot that can bear the weight of one of your three variations of tension most effectively. Novellas can so easily give away their tension because their central argument is easily resolved, the experiment of it begs catharsis, or the space is too small for a lot of repetition. I like novellas because I maintain they are the medium for a writer to really experiment and be experimental–this post really begs the writer to experiment with how one might shape a novella that would absolutely ache with tension.

    I am so, so glad to be introduced to you as a writer, as well. I am burning to read THE CAPTIVE PRINCE. Thank you so, so much.

    1. anna cowan Post author

      Go forth and read! You won’t be disappointed. Also, “a novella that would absolutely ache with tension” – please write this. Just that description gives me good shivers.

      It does seem counter-intuitive to have a difficult literary device explained so concisely. I think because this is so, so hard to do in practice, and takes an incredible amount of thought and planning. But also because we like to think of writing as a kind of hoodoo, as you say.

      You’re so spot on about what keeps you turning the pages in a Bourne novel – just waiting for something, anything to *break*. This is how Dunnett functions as well, though unsurprisingly on a whole other level, where when the cathartic thing *finally* happens it just makes everything worse.

      This makes me think of something my writing teacher told us: You have to have peaks of tension and then drop it before the next peak. She said that if you have three peaks in a row, the readers’ sustained tension will drop them out of the narrative – this is where you get nervous laughter in a tragic movie, etc. I think for the most part she’s spot-on. Just not when it comes to Dunnett.

      1. bleu

        I have alwys thought the same as your writing teacher – only instead of dropping the tension, so to say, I always thought of it as modifying the base of the tension by giving it a different focus. Kind of like the process plaiting, where many strands combine and one layers the other until it is replaced itself. Still, all these strands combine to form a feeling.

  10. Sabrina

    I found Captive Prince while looking at comments on an LJ interview with one of my other favorite authors (Manna, who wrote The Administration Series, which is, along with Captive Prince, the best m/m relationship stories I have found). I was completely unsurprised to read that the author (Cat) is a huge Dunnett fan. In fact, after reading Captive Prince, I started rereading (for the 4th time) the Lymond Chronicles. Francis Crawford is the most sublimely complex, fascinating, and almost unbearably sexy characters I’ve ever come across, and I admit that I had longed for — and looked for — some LC “fanfic,” hoping I’d find a story that developed some of Lymond’s m/m sexual experiences (which are clearly implied in the novels, especially Queen’s Play and Pawn in Frankincense). But, alas, apparently even devoted DD fans who love m/m fiction realize the impossible task of doing justice to her superb character development. But in many ways, I feel as if I have finally found a story with a DD-worthy original character who has a lot of the personality traits and quirks that I see in Lymond. I was an instant and huge fan, and cannot wait for the paperbacks, and to read book three so I know what happens next. Thank you, Cat, for a lovely story, and thank you, Anna, for the entry in your blog.

    1. anna cowan Post author

      There is something so untouchable about Lymond, isn’t there? I just don’t think anyone could grasp his essential nature enough to write satisfying fic. (Although I was saying to Cat the other day that Fanon Draco is like Cartoon Lymond. (Chibi Lymond?)).

      But Cat’s given us something amazing with CP. Laurent hits all the same good spots as Lymond.

      1. Sabrina

        Yes. One of the things I particularly love about Lymond is that we rarely hear what he is thinking/feeling, but Dunnett lets us know in other ways, in particular by what’s going on with his long-fingered, beautiful (if scarred) hands. That and his leaning. In almost every scene involving emotional tension, Lymond is leaning on his hands, clenching his hands, tensing his fingers, standing or leaning against something with his hands over his head or face, or with steepled or interlaced fingers. I enjoyed the way Cat also depicted much of Laurent’s emotional state — which very rarely is seen in his verbal or facial expressions — through the tension of his body. His control over any physical manifestations of his emotions is what reminds me of Lymond, and what I love about DD’s and Cat’s writing.

        1. anna cowan Post author

          Beautiful long-fingered hands and leaning … *sigh*. The way you’ve described Lymond and Laurent makes me realise they’re the physical equivalent of Cat’s example of saying something in a restrained way v saying it in a forceful way. There’s so much more threat in them because they’re always holding themselves in check.

          One of the things Dunnett does that I simply can’t figure out is when someone finally forces a cathartic moment on Lymond it only makes things *worse*. How do you even set up so much internal tension that this happens? There’s something about him being that vulnerable that feels dangerous. He needs the emotional release, but when it’s forced on him he doesn’t release anything, he just becomes this hurtful wound.

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  12. bleu

    Well, I can’t believe I finally had enough time to read at least some of your excellent guest entries, Anna! 😀 I am looking forward to reading the rest, too.
    I just wish you hadn’t pointed out that “Captive Prince is still alive”, because now I feel my term paper is in serious danger… It would have been better if I had stumbled upon the release date waaay after its passing.

    Okay, I know this is, er, rather belated, but… You said that you think of tension in terms of push and pull. How exactly would that work out in terms of charakter behaviour/agressiveness? ( I am not talking about the push/pull tactics of behaviour.) – Which ever kind I picture, it always results in me visualizing ‘colliding’ forces. Wich would be ‘push’ right? Do you actually make a difference in writing these scenes? I mean, where does this differentiation come from?

    Oh, and Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Premature New Year to both of you!

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