Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Tuesday's Inspiration ala Joyce Carol Oates
When I read this old essay about creating tension Joyce Carol Oates was speaking of the short story rather than a novel but I also realized what she said also applies to the longer form of fiction. Tension in a novel builds to a peak and then seems to dissipate. Seems is the key word. Tension is buried only to re-surface again.
From this essay, two facts rose that can help tension build no matter what length of story the writer creates. There is a rhythmic building of tension. I always think of this "Step by step." And what does this mean. To quote Joyce Carol Oates, "the building of tension that lasts long enough to be convincing but short enough to be interesting." There is a point where the tension must ease. In a short story this means the ending but in a novel this means a rest until the time comes to push the tension a step higher,
The second quote. "Remember that tension created for it's own sake is cheap; no one will read your story more than once." Just what does this mean. I thought for a long time and realized there are stories one only reads once but there are stories some readers will re-read again and again. Think of some of your favorites and study them. Find why the building of tension brings you back to the story and try to infuse that into your work,