Tension in Dialogue

January 22, 2013


Which piece of dialogue captures your interest . . .

“I want to go,” she said. “Everyone else is going.”

“No,” her dad answered.

Or . . .

Why can’t I?” The milk sloshed as she grabbed the jug from the refrigerator and kicked the door closed. “I’m the only person in high school not going!”

Her dad rolled his eyes and continued sorting mail. “Well then, you’ll get to start a whole new trend.”

When a writer creates tension in a scene, the character’s actions must be consistent with the dialogue. Besides giving the reader a more detailed visual, a character’s actions can offer mood and emotion. Without tension, the scene will fall flat.

Offer facial descriptions and body language to increase the action between characters. Be specific with details. If a teen wants to stay out late, say 2:00 a.m.. If someone is bored or nervous, show her or him picking their yellowed nails.

If a reader can envision details and understand the tension in a scene, it immediately becomes more intriguing.


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