Thursday, July 26, 2012

SCWC: Creating Microtension

-        It’s important to be compelling nowadays because people are constantly busy and easily distracted.  You have to hook them.
-        Conflict reveals/exposes/evolves character, threatens change
-        Plot—how you raise the questions in the reader’s mind and the way they’re answered.
-        Information/exposition/low tension is boring
-        Using microtension helps during the lulls
-        7 psychological triggers that get our attention: alarm and mystique
-        We want questions answers and riddles solved.  Our brain is not built to handle ambiguities.
-        Find points of emotional friction, opposing impulses
-        Microtension has to be rooted in the Protagonist’s POV
-        Dialogue—find points of emotional friction.  Conflicting attitudes/agendas
-        Information Dump: make more gripping by introducing skepticism by a char.  Forces other char to test and defend ideas.
-        Sexual tension!!!  Egos, personalities, biases, prejudice, conflicting ideas, etc
-        Pay attention to your own life and your interactions with other people
-        Projecting/externalizing internal conflicts (weather, environment changes)
-        Don’t rehash/describe repeatedly unless something has changed dramatically
-        Scene-building.  Every scene has to have drive, builds up to shift/action.  It has to have a point.
-        Recycling ideas: dig deeper into the character.  Find a new/different angle, add complexity
-        The first ideas that come to you are often the most cliché and superficial, break down/storyboard and look carefully at the details/emotions and dismiss them so you’re forced to come up with more original ideas
-        Make backstory suspenseful—impending consequences?  Use backstory to shape present conflict.
-        Foreshadowing—can be a surprise or can be a subtle detail that reader won’t recall until later
-        External dialogue conflicts with internal thoughts/feelings
Here is the exercise I did for the Microtension class. We had to write about our lunch break, lol…
My lunch was revolting.  It was supposed to be a “chipotle chicken wrap.”  Where was the chipotle?  No idea.  It was disgusting and dry, and packed with shredded lettuce.  No one buys a wrap for the goddamn lettuce.
I was sitting in the lobby eating when a girl approached.
“Is anyone sitting here?” she asked, gesturing to a nearby chair.
“Nope!” I said.  I moved my bag out of the way for her.  I continued to stuff my face and surf the internet on my netbook.  The girl sat down and proceeded to feast on a bag of Skittles.
Well, I considered.  Skittles would probably be better than this shitty wrap.  In fact, I began to covet her Skittles.  I began to wonder what a Skittles Chicken Wrap might taste like.  And then I wondered what Chipotle Skittles would taste like.
“Hey,” I nodded at her.  ”I’ll trade you some of your Skittles for a couple of my barbecue chips.”  A smart, even exchange.  I was willing to sacrifice a couple delicious barbecue nuggets in return for sweet, happy divinity.
Only then could my lunch be redeemed.  Those Skittles held the lunch-time magic I was so desperately seeking.

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