Thursday, March 28, 2013

Using A Scene Chart for Tension and Suspense

So yesterday my amazing writer friend Jordan McCollum posted on her blog about "Tension Check" and she included a link to a scene chart.  As I looked it over, and read her reasons for using it (she's a lot more organized writer than I am and I know I'll never keep up) but in this case I decided I was going to use it.

As a suspense writer, I want to keep my tension building throughout the book, but I also want that balanced with believability and character growth.  It's a tall order to fill.  Yet, even just doing the scene chart with my first four chapters I've noticed places that I can add one more layer and change a character's goals.  It has been so helpful.  (Click here for the scene chart I grabbed from Jordan's site.)

The more I write/publish the more I learn about the craft of writing and I really feel like I'm improving with every book.  Tension is huge for a suspense writer, and I try to be very aware of it in my writing.  I once had a reader tell me they were absolutely exhausted when they were finished reading one of my books.  I think that's a good thing, overall, but there also has to be a bit of downtime and depth.  Hence the reason why I am moving away from my pantser habits and becoming the perfect candidate for using a scene chart in my chapters.

So, that's what I'm working on this week.  Do you have something similar to a scene chart that's helped you in your writing?


Donna K. Weaver said...

Jordan's blog hates me and won't let me comment (regardless of the browser I use) but I've used so many of her writing helps.

Debra Erfert said...

I love this post! Thank you Julie for leading me to Jordan's very cool spreadsheet helper. I'm in the middle of building my own spreadsheet for Relative Evil, and I can see it being a huge help in keeping the scenes moving, but also for when I need to do that dreaded synopsis and query. WhooHoo!!! I'm happy, so happy!

Debra Erfert said...

Donna, I was able to leave a comment on Jordan's blog. Don't know why you couldn't. Try again! Maybe it was the internet throwing up roadblocks.

Jordan McCollum said...

So glad you guys like it! Thanks for blogging about it, Julie, and I'm excited to see the changes!

Donna--AGH. AGAIN.

Deb--Yeah, my blog just hates Donna. It's a chronic problem.

Kate said...

Love Jack Bickham's book. I just taught a class about it. However, I love this spreadsheet more. I've been using it with my current WIP and it is really a great tool. I might add the events column from Jordan's example because I need to keep track of plot info along the way. Thanks for sharing.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Donna, that stinks that Jordan's blog is so picky. But it's sort of funny, too.

Debra, I'm so glad it helped you,too. I was surprised at how much I liked using it.

Jordan, you are such an inspiration for all your writer friends. :)

Kate, I've heard such great things about Jack Bickham's books. I need to move him up on my to-read list I think. :)