Just as various literary devices add tension, others dissipate tension. In my current manuscript, my literary agent approved my use of occasional backstory chapters that slightly ease the tension (though are necessary for readers to solve the mystery part of the book) to, as she put it, “give the readers a rest.” So sometimes the tension down-ramp is a good thing, but whether it works for you or against you , you need to know what reduces tension, so you do a better job of writing YOUR Novel.
Unfortunately, you will notice that some of these things are unavoidable.
1. A new chapter
2. A shift in the POV character
3. A difficult word or name
4. A poorly constructed sentence
5. The turn of a page
6. The solution to or unraveling of a mystery (small or large)
7. The end of a very tense scene
8. The author telling the story instead of showing it through his or her characters’ actions and words
9. Typos and grammatical errors (These are usually but not always the author’s fault.)
10. A lot of description unrelieved by story
11. Blatant preaching of a theme or an author’s viewpoint (even if a character is doing the preaching)
12. Non-visual writing
13. Lack of sensory description (what your characters hear, taste, feel, see, or smell)
14. Long internal monologues by your characters
15. Stilted and unrealistic dialogue
16. Factual errors in research
17. Boy finally does get the girl or vice versa
18. The bad guy gets caught
19. The aliens who are trying to conquer planet earth are defeated
20. The end of the book
Q4U: Can you add to our list?
Assignment for the week: Maintain your schedule and eliminate any unintentional, avoidable down-ramps.