One important element to storytelling is tension. No one wants to read a bland story. Readers want the protagonist’s urgency to transport them from one event to the next. If something is not emotionally, financially, physically, politically, relationally, or spiritually important to the protagonist, why should the reader care?
Any situation or task, however boring or mundane, can become stressful and increase the tension of your story if the conditions are right.
Have you ever been in a car with someone who was mad at you or walked into a room where someone was crying? Awkward! How about doing your taxes, mailing them in two days before they’re due, and then realizing that you did them incorrectly? (Yeah, that one might be somewhat autobiographical, and I still have the second set of Certified Mail receipts to prove it.)
Choose one or more of the activities below and write a tense scene. If it has potential, try developing the story beyond just that scene. In order to achieve the desired level of tension, you will have to do some character development.
- Eating cereal
- Getting the mail
- Grocery shopping
- Going to the dentist (Okay, this is an easy one.)
- Returning a phone call