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07/21/2001 - Raise the Tension
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Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Raise the Tension

For a story to stay interesting it has to become MORE interesting. Upward and onward should be your catch phrase, in the sense that the tension has to increase as you build to your climax.

One way to increase the tension is to keep raising what is at stake. You say that your gutty heroine is going to lose her job at the factory if she doesn't succeed? How about if she is also going to lose her car? And then her house? What? Her she almost won out over impossible odds and set up a union vote-and now her husband is threatening to leave her? Oh, the poor thing. But look how she fights on!

The trick here is to let your main character start to triumph, only to find that the odds against him or her have just become even greater, so that each triumph ends tragically. Two steps forward and one step back all the way to the climax, when at last your lead wins the overall victory he or she has been after since the first reel. If things have constantly gotten tougher, the audience will still be there to lead the cheer.

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