A human being is a deciding human being – psychologist and philosopher Victor Frankl.
Not long ago, I was introduced to a new thought when someone said, “Without a Moment of Decision, this is just an anecdote.” In other words, the reader felt no real tension in the piece she was reading. This Moment of Decision idea seemed interesting to me so I decided to research it a little bit, and I want to share what I found with you.
As humans, we want to make the best decision on whatever it is we’re considering doing. However, our characters don’t get that luxury. Our characters shouldn’t act as though they’ve had three weeks to consider their options in any given scene. The decision made in the heat of the moment isn’t the same as one made with weeks to consider. In fact, bad decisions often make the best stories. Bad decisions will ratchet up the tension factor in your story, and keep your reader engrossed with the story line. How is he going to get out of THIS, THIS TIME?
How do we cause our characters to make bad decisions?
- Let them be impulsive. Let them jump in before thinking it through.
- Have them make decisions under pressure. A ticking clock is a reliable way to raise stakes and increase tension.
- Let he/she assume they know it all. This can be particularly satisfying because the fall when reality trips them up will be particularly devastating.
- Don’t make a Plan B. An overconfident protagonist will get into more and more trouble as the world falls to pieces and starts snowballing. Make sure the worst can happen and make them dig their way out.
You want tension in your story, and you want the tension to mount. Otherwise, it is a slide show, like a resume. You want to keep your reader reading, so, blow it all up if you have to, but raise the stakes in your work and it will be more interesting and satisfying to your reader.
About Yvonne Erwin
Yvonne Erwin is a contemporary women's fiction writer, living in Springfield, Missouri. Her passions include reading, writing, gardening, cooking, traveling and experiencing new adventures. She seldom goes very far without her camera, which she's nicknamed her "mini-me."
Currently, Yvonne is serving as President of the Springfield Writers' Guild, a chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild, and is a member of Ozarks Romance Authors. In 2012, Yvonne won second place in the prose-fiction category in the 19th Annual Springfield Writers' Contest Literacy Contest.
Yvonne's first novel, "The Discovery of Joy," was released February 2, 2015, in the women's fiction category. Her second novel, "The Sisters of Madelaine Street," was released September 27, 2016.