A presentation by
Tension, like characterization, is as much art as it is craft.
– there is no “how to” model
– it’s like singing voice, athleticism
- it can be improved, practiced and taught
- but mostly, it is evolved by the performer through the application of principles
– we will look at some of the principles today
– tension technique – being aware of what balls you are throwing up into the air within a scene… and manipulating them properly
Goal of this workshop:
– to deliver… a toolchest… awareness.. perspective… skill-building… examples.
– interactivity encouraged
What is tension?
– emotional involvement of the reader
– connection to the bigger picture of the story
– thrusts the reader forward into the story
– one of the most powerful principles of storytelling
– there can be multiple missions within a scene, by only ONE exposition goal
- other missions include characterization, setting, and…
- … tension.
Tension-driven scenes vs. Exposition-driven scenes:
– why you need to understand the difference
– what else is there: “set-up” scenes and transitional scenes
– being proactive about the design and sequence of these flavors
Tension is genre-dependent.
– thriller vs. mystery
– romance vs. erotica (is there tension in erotica?)
– historical vs. family drama/contemporary
– science fiction vs. anything
Macro-tension vs. Micro (scene-specific) tension.
Tension is concept dependent.
Tension is context and structure dependent.
– the four parts of a story… mission/context-driven
– trumped, though, by the goal of the scene (aka, first scene in Inglorious Basterds)
Tension is conflict-dependent.
Tension is character-dependent (inner landscape).
Tension is hero’s goal-dependent.
Tension is pace dependent.
Tension is sub-text-dependent.
– Shutter Island scene with George Noyce
– Deer Hunter Russian roulette scene
– First scene of Inglorious Basterds
Exterior vs. interior tension.
– tension can be derived from either, or both, within a single scene
Tension is heightened by entering scenes efficiently, and at the last possible moment.
Sequence-dependent tension (vs. scene-dependent)
How do you “pay off” the tension within a scene?
– micro/scene tension dynamics require a payoff (ending)
- this teaches the reader what to expect
- okay to escalate/thrust… but the sequence must pay off
- no dangling scene/sequence dramas
The “cut and thrust” technique for scene transition.