CWM: #2 — Vagueness for tension

A novel I edited once kept saying him and his death for about twenty pages before actually explaining who he was. Instead of feeling a sense of curiosity, I was confused. I kept wondering who he was and why he mattered.

I’ve run across this type of vagueness before. Some writers think that leaving information out will build the story’s tension. But it doesn’t work that way.

Readers get confused and usually turn away from a story that has a lot of vagueness. Sometimes they will skim the pages until they find out what’s going on, which takes them out of the experience.

If you write it down, explain it.

Now, you don’t have to explain every little thing, but you do need to explain enough to paint a picture of what’s going on in the readers’ minds, so they’re not confused.

Tension is hard to build in a story; it has to come naturally. If you’re open about what’s going on, the story’s tension will flow since readers will connect to what the characters feel in that moment. They can’t relate to the characters if they don’t understand why the characters feel the way they do.

I hope this helps!

Want more?

#1 — Using multiple adjectives
#3 — Repeating words for emphasis
#4 — Common misused words
#5 — Misusing hyphens

#6 — Unnecessary details
#7 — Not developing characters
#8 — The words feel and felt
#9 — Overusing character names
#10 — Adding too many details with commas

#11 — Different types of dashes
#12 — Not using plain language
#13 — Dialogue tags vs. action beats
#14 — Misusing commas
#15 — No sentence variation

#16 — Misplaced modifiers
#17 — Characters with similar names
#18 — When to start new paragraphs
This was originally posted on my writing blog.

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