The Art of Storytelling…

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nothing must come to your characters easily. This is a fundamental of all storytelling. The art of storytelling is to create at all times palpable tensions. These tensions manifest in two primary ways: internal and external tension. But the actual elements can be many. Character to character tension. Internal tension in which a character struggles against a thought or memory or a secret from the past. Nothing must come to your character easily. When matters fall in place easily for your characters readers grow weary of reading. They lose interest. They gain interest when the characters struggle, when they come close to (and sometimes meet) failure. 

Take an example. A character (we’ll call him Joe) is trying to pass a college entrance exam. If you wished you could write that Joe passed the exam and was done with it. In fact you could write that he aced it with banners flying. Or you could write that Joe failed not once but twice. Then Joe required tutelage but couldn’t afford it, and because Joe was poor with people could not convince anyone to help him. You could write that after months of independent study and wrestling with the exam questions his mother falls ill and he cannot be there to take the proctored exam. The second version is far more interesting isn’t it? Not only is it more interesting, but it prevents you from having to go to great lengths to tell us who Joe is. We begin to learn who Joe is by reading about what he does, what he goes through, and how he reacts to difficulty and hardship. Joe’s story is enough to tell us who he is. Joe is a dynamic character.

The key is to always have another challenge lined up for your character, which will engage the reader. Books are built upon challenge and tension. Layer upon layer. If you kept on with Joe’s story you might write next that he passes the entrance exam but is approached by a new challenge. He has to help support his family in the wake of his mother’s passing. Now he does not have the financial wherewithal to pay for his tuition. Another challenge. 

Another reason tension is so critical is that it contributes to change. Conflict effects change. People don’t change in a vacuum.

People change through trial and suffering. Tension is the feeling of uncomfortability that arises out of conflict and remains (in varying degrees) until that conflict is resolved. The reader continues reading through tension because of that uncomfortable feeling. It could be presumed that the reader senses (and wishes to escape) the discomfort. When the reader ceases to move forward is most often during a lull between conflicts. It’s in those lulls that people place their bookmarks. It’s your job as the writer to discourage the reader from placing their bookmark. It’s your job to keep them turning pages.


Roman Newell

Graphic Compositions:
by: Darlene Carroll

Graphic work can not be accomplished without the incredible resources made available to this Author and his team. THANK YOU to the following artists for the gift of their artistry and generosity in sharing their beautiful artwork, photography, and fonts.

Background Imagery:
o. Gerd Altmann – Pixabay

The CAVE — Blog Mailing List
No fucking censorship here! Transport me to The Cave’s blog mailing list. Subscribing hooks me up with exclusive written content | poetry | writing tips and more each time Roman posts.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Newsletter Email Consent

Do drop your thoughts, views and/or questions
on my writing, poetry or any topic you’ve got on your mind.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from Roman Newell

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading