The dictionary defines it as “mental or emotional strain.” Why would we want that in our fiction? Tension is what drives a story forward and is often generated through conflict between a character and the outer or inner world. It is also what keeps us turning the page, what drives our thoughts back to a novel even when we’re not reading it. So, how do you create tension? How do you not only grab a reader’s attention but also keep it? This workshop does not have any to-go formulas or easy answers, but it does offer a space to bring your questions about craft. On the line level, in a scene, in a chapter or over the course of an entire book, we’ll be exploring tension in its many forms. Over the course of six weeks, we’ll look at successful examples in literature, experiment with prompts and discuss our own drafts through feedback-based workshops. By the end of the course, you will have generated a number of brand-new scenes, obtained constructive, critical feedback on a working draft and have a set of craft tools ready to use for revision or future projects.
Anna Polonyi holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, an MA in journalism and a BA in history and literature from Harvard University. She was the 2021 writer-in-residence at the Manchester Festival of Libraries, and she is the recipient of a Fulbright, the Richard E. Guthrie Fellowship, and Paris Lit Up’s Sylvia Beach Short Fiction Prize, among others.
photo credit: © olya kobruseva
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