Monday, May 23, 2011

The Power of Tension Blogfest

First--Unicorn Bell is live as of today! Carol is calling for a First Kiss segment for critique, so head over and read the rules and other information.

Today starts the Power of Tension Blogfest hosted by Cally Jackson and Rachel Morgan.
Here's what you need to do:
1. Give an excerpt (up to 300 words) from your manuscript or recently completed work (or just a random scene) that just drips with tension and will tie us up in knots wanting to know more. It doesn’t matter what the piece is about, as long as it screams tension.
2. Go to either Cally or Rachel's blogs (follow links above) and add a DIRECT link to your blogfest post to Mr. Linky by midnight on the 27th.
3. Be polite, read other entries, make constructive and polite comments.
4. Return to their blogs on June 2nd to see the top six entries. Did I mention there are prizes?

Ok, I struggled to pick something for this. Mainly because my tension is spread out in a slow build throughout Sendek--and most of my other stories. All the sections that move the tension up just a notch don't seem like much out of context. *sigh* Well, that could be ok, I don't know.

Can I cheat and give you two 300 word clips?

Scene 1 from Sendek--
"I'm glad I found you." Shishali walked toward me with the grace of a cat on the prowl. "Nothing to say?"

I found it hard to swallow as her lips curled back to reveal the dagger sharp teeth. When I did swallow, my mind pulled away from my body, leaving me numb but freeing my voice.

"Not really." I shrugged.

"Too bad. I plan to kill you slowly for what you did to Nysyk." She circled me so I turned with her to keep her in my sights.

"I don't know what you’re talking about."

"I found him in a canyon in the mountains. How did you do it? You don’t look strong enough." Her head tilted to the side as she talked.

Understanding dawned. "I didn't."

She made two complete circles and I felt dizzy. I almost wished she would get it over with, because I knew I would never be able to fight her. As if she read my mind, she stepped in closer, towering a foot and a half over me.

The sweat trickled down the back of my neck, cooling in the breeze until a shiver moved through me.

Time slowed as I watched her taloned hand reach out and slice through my left side. A gasp escaped my lips as the pain shot through me. I clutched my side and the warm blood made my fingers sticky.

I pulled energy from the trees to stop the bleeding. Shishali's eyes narrowed, her jaw twitched, then she growled as she watched my wounds heal.

"I wonder how long you can do that before you are too weak. Let's have a little fun and find out."

And scene 2 is from a 1st draft (so the dialogue is stinky) section of Faerie Wings--
The doorbell woke me. 2:52 am. Heather had better be in real trouble to wake me at this time. I tossed the covers aside and padded my way to the front door as she rang the bell over and over.

"Heather, stop already. I'm coming." I removed the chain, turned the deadbolt and opened the door.

Strong arms grabbed me, spun me around and pinned my arms to my side. Someone else shoved a cloth bag over my head.

"Scream and we will kill you." A gruff voice rumbled by my ear.

I hadn't even thought of screaming. They dragged me down my steps and pushed me into a car. It didn't feel like a big car, as I hit the far side as soon as I was in. My knees rested against the seat in front of me. One of the guys got in beside me, making things feel even more cramped. I heard the front door close and the sway of motion as we pulled away from my house.

My heart pounded. I took shallow breaths as the air in the bag warmed. My hands were still free and I tried to lift the bag desperate for air.

"Oh, no you don't." A voice growled by my ear.

He grabbed my hands and crushed me against the car door as he pulled my arms behind me. A strong cord was wrapped around them until my fingers went numb.


  1. These are both fantastic - I'm glad you decided to share them both!

  2. I like the cat-and-mouse in the first one. Most people sound cheesy when they write characters like that, but you did a good job with it.

  3. Thanks Susan and Teralyn.

    I just read through and found an "I felt" now I need to go back and fix that bad moment of telling. :)

  4. Great pieces, I liked them both! :)

  5. Hard not to build tensions with lines like:
    "Scream and we will kill you." A gruff voice rumbled by my ear.

  6. "Let's have a little fun and find out."
    Wowser, that line really hit me. The tension was slow to build through that excerpt and then walloped me over the head. I really want to know more!

  7. Haha, I guess you're right Libby! And thanks Amy.

  8. Lissa, what comes next is one of my favorite scenes. I hope you get to read it some time. It was hard not to keep posting, but it's 2/3rds into the book and would be quite a spoiler.

    And as Doctor Who always says, "No spoilers!"

  9. Goodness, I like them both, but the second one catches my fancy. I read suspense, so... Really great entries!

  10. Great tension in the first snippet! I definitely want to know what happens next. The 2nd is great, too, but feels less developed (I know, it's a first draft).

    Great job!

  11. First one -- personally, I don't see any tension in torture. If one's going to hurt the other, who isn't going to fight back, what am I waiting for? Death?

    Second one -- much better.

  12. Thanks Crystal! It needs some work, but good to know you enjoyed it. I won't throw it away yet. ;)

    Vicki, right after Shishali's taunt, things get interesting. You know Talia has to have something up her sleeve. The reason I like this scene is because Talia really has to let all her emotions free. It's all part of her arc.

    L., I agree. Good thing this isn't your standard torture scene. As I said, its way better when you've read the 200+ pages that came before. :D That makes the payoff in the next 500 words oh so satisfying.

    Thanks for stopping by everyone!

  13. Very nice. First person works really well hear because it shoves you into the role of that woman and the dread she feels at the claw reaching for her...

  14. :) these are both very nice. Wonder how the gals in charge of this will pick the one to enter into the contest? Or can we submit more than one piece?


  15. Thanks for sharing, sounds really interesting, can't wait to see what happends :-)

  16. Totally loved both excerpts. Very intriguing and a lot of tension! Great job! :D

  17. Great excerpts!! Lots of tension in both - good job!

  18. Great job, Charity! I loved both the excerpts, but especially the first one. I really want to know what's going on there.

  19. "The sweat trickled down the back of my neck, cooling in the breeze until a shiver moved through me." Love that line!

    It makes me all the more excited about reading Sendek one day!

    Plus love the sneaky two entries. As far as I'm concerned, they're both eligible. We never said anything about one entry per person!

    Thanks for entering, Charity. :-)

  20. That was great. I loved how vivid it was and the talon was totally scary!
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  21. First one - loved the back and forth between the two. I could tell there was a lot going on before this scene, but I still felt the tension. It was a nice build up.

    Second one - Faster momentum and more in your face tension. The narrators reactions were very believable.

  22. In the first excerpt, you could make the impact stronger by getting rid of a few linking words.
    In the sentence beginning, "I found it hard to swallow," try getting rid of the "as" that follows and break off the rest as a new sentence.
    With "She circled me," try removing the "so" and leave the rest as its own sentence.
    "She made two complete circles and I felt dizzy." Try getting rid of the "and" and break it into two sentences.
    "Shishali's eyes narrowed, her jaw twitched, then she growled." Not sure exactly what to do here, but try removing the "then" and start "She growled" as a new sentence.
    But won't these changes result in a lot of short sentences? Yes. This can be effective in a scene that ratchets up the tension. If you try one or two of my opinionated suggestions, you might see if it increases the tension you've already successfully created.

  23. two well written excerpts. The tension is building nicely.

  24. Wonderful imagery and tension build up. I would like to read more!

  25. Both cool excerpts! I like the first one better. What a chilling last line!

  26. Great job on both!! I hope Shisali gets out of it - does she?

  27. Totally got the tension in both scenes. The imagery was amazing as well.

    Power Of Tension Blogfest

  28. These are both terrific! I think I might have liked the first one a teensy bit better, although I really can't say why, but both are great! Well done!

  29. Both good. I really felt the first one though. I think it stood out because it was less ordinary (not that there's anything ordinary about kidnapping!). The last line especially was a gem!

  30. I think the first excerpt definitely has more tension, with the "predator" circling her "prey"...

    Thanks for entering :-)

  31. Whoa, I missed a bunch of you. I responded to as many as the email message would let me. Now I don't remember who came to me as a "no-reply sender".

    I really appreciate all your comments, and I'm glad most of you liked the first scene better. I've spent a lot of time cultivating those characters.


  32. I liked them both, but the first scene really tickled my fancy because I, too, am very much into fantasy, and I'm dying to find out how she escapes!

  33. Nice writing! Some good lines. I prefer the first excerpt in terms of tension.

  34. The first scene left me all shivery - great job with it! The second is a little rougher, but definitely has great potential and great tension :)


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