Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 6, 2012

Look into Tension in Revision

Carole Lindstrom sent in this article after taking great notes at KAMI KINARD’s Workshop TENSION IN REVISION.   

Kami has a middle-grade novel, “The Boy Project (Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister)”, that was published by Scholastic in January 2012, and it’s a funny, fun read with some important, appropriately understated messages. 

I love the way Kami’s first page, so I thought I would share it with you. 

 Click Here to Read More 

Here is what Carol has sent in about Kami Kinard’s TENSION IN REVISION Workshop

Dig deeper with both plot and dialogue
There should be conflict on every page
Every page or spread needs a decision


What is the number one goal of the protagonist?
What is the number one goal of the antagonist?
How are their goals relevant on an emotional level? How do they conflict?


These two characters and their conflicting goals provide the tension central to every story.
Nothing should be easy for the protagonist. Your plot has to twist and turn and so does your character’s emotional journey.

Ways to Create More Tension:

1. Try adding additional characters t create tension
2. Create new conflicts between existing characters
3. Give your character a new skill or have an old skill suddenly fail him/her
4. Give the story an emotional twist – can something happen that makes him/her unexpectedly sad, elated, depressed, frustrated?


Plot – a series of scenes that lead to a climax
Scene – a unit of dramatic action with a beginning, middle and end
Every scene has to have tension. Draw a box around each scene so you can physically see where scenes are in your story to determine if there is tension.


What is your setting? Are there places available to you within that world where you can increase the drama/tension of the setting?
Can you add a place if there isn’t one?


Where will the climax occur?
Can you add tension to that location?


A high place – a roof top, bridge or cliff
A wild place – near a roaring river, a crashing ocean
A forbidden area – places your MC should not go
Weather can be a great source of tension because of its symbolism
Time of day – what time does climax occur? Could changing the time of day increase the tension?
An audience – will your scene have more tension in front of others?

Dialogue Tension – know what your character’s want BEFORE they enter into communication.


The Emotions Thesaurus
Dialogue (Tension)

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I was fortunate enough to take Kami’s workshop and have to say she’s a WONderful teacher! I’m glad Carole took these notes ’cause they’re SO much better than mine! lol It was Kami’s workshop that sparked me to pick up her book shortly after the conference because I simply HAD to see the way she wrote. I was NOT disappointed. I think every girl (and boy!) should read this book. Its messages are very poignant without being didactic, and the authentic voice is very humorous. I actually got choked up at the end, though!

    Thanks for the notes, Carole, and thanks for posting, Kathy 🙂


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