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Writing tension into a scene

This entry is part 43 of 43 in the series Friday Sprints

Writing tension into a scene

Writing tension exercise

Teasing tension out of a scene is a major task for a writer. Today’s visual writing prompt exercise involves a photograph of a happy family sitting at a picnic table.

The object of the this week’s writing exercise is for you to look past the surface and write about the scene’s hidden tensions. Writing tension into scenes sentence by sentence is definitely a needed skill.

Every scene has the potential for multiple layers of tension. How many knots of tension can you identify and incorporate into today’s writing tension exercise. This writing sprint exercise will help strengthen your writing muscles.

Grab a novelty kitchen timer 

Novelty kitchen timer helps with writing tension prompt exercise.
When it comes to sprint writing exercises, kitchen timers are handy tools to have around. This week’s featured timer is a yellow chicken novelty timer that is easy to use. Gather any other writing tools. When you’re ready, set the timer. (If I don’t have a kitchen timer handy, I’ll use the oven timer.) You can use your  iPad or smartphone and download a timer app, too.

Start writing 

Once you start writing, don’t stop. Don’t stop to reread, edit, or question. Head for the middle and capture an end. (Scroll down for the after-writing process.) GO!

Visual prompt for writing tension into a scene

Finished? Read what you’ve written. Don’t do any editing. Check out the questions below and spend the next five minutes doing another write. Reflect on your initial writing from the photograph.

Read and reflect

  1. Did you find any potential tension in the scene?
  2. How many initial points of tension did you see?
  3. Was it difficult for you to spot moments of tension?
  4. Were you able to write any of that tension in to the scene you wrote?
  5. Did you have a beginning, middle, and an end?
  6. Was this a difficult exercise for you?

BONUS: Take 5 minutes to write the same scene with a different type of tension.  

That’s it. You can stop now or expand what you’re written. Leave a comment. Tell me what you think. If you’re still in the writing mode check out the other sprint exercises.


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Series NavigationWriting from multiple points of view
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