Sunday, May 10, 2015

TIGHTEN THE TENSION, HEIGHTEN THE STAKES: Why Readers prefer Fabulously Flawed to Picture Perfect

Shakespeare's plays open themselves up to a world of interpretation.  Whether in discourse, historical context, symbolism or intentions to leave the audience in conflict with themselves, there is no dispute about his plays lending themselves to every reader's response.

But regardless of your position on Taming of the Shrew,  whether you see is as satire or misogyny, one thing remains true:  it is the most adapted play in his canon, and always is sure to evoke a strong response in the audience, especially when it comes to the relationship between Kate and Petruchio.  It is the definition of  conflict:  is it hatred? Sexism? Is it control?  Or is it something more powerful than that, something that audiences of the stage, page and film reel find so irresistible in our most beloved characters and character relationships?

The more polite of us will describe it as "electricity" or "crackling chemistry."  The more straight to the point of us will call it exactly what it is; subtle or in your face, novelists and playwrights know it as...dare we say it?  Okay, here it goes....sexual tension.

The best writers know that the best way to captivate and seduce your audience when it comes to tension is to start subtle, and move slow.  Gradual, little nibbles of character revelation through dialogue and point/counter- point rather than large gulps of character revelation in an information dump.

We don't show our whole hand to one another upon the first, second or even the third meeting.  We
don't expect our favorite characters to, either.  We delight in what they hold back, what is underneath the surface, because that is what draws us in;  we, the reader now have a part to play in the story.  We are reading between the lines, concentrating as much on what isn't said as we do on what is implicit.  We have an active role in the characters' lives that is charged with all sorts of possibilities!

Some of the most beloved couples in literature, theater and on the silver screen are timeless because of this conflict--the tension--that draws the two characters in and then just as suddenly repels them like some kind of crazy magnetic force:  Harry and Sally, Rhett and Scarlett, Ilsa and Rick, Baby and Johnny, Sandy and Danny, Westley and Buttercup,  Elizabeth and Will, Jack and Rose, Edward and Bella, Romeo and Juliet...the list goes on and on.  (Recognize any of these?)

Just for fun, I am going to give you four scenarios that play with "tension."  Look at each one.  Analyze carefully for tone, characterization, diction and imagery.  What is the writer doing to pull you in?  Which one works best for you and why?  How are the stakes ultimately heightened?  (See below where it says "Click Here" for your examples).  Here's an upfront admission:  none of the characters are picture perfect.  There is no Prince Charming meets Princess Perfect and the two immediately declare their love and live happily ever after.  WE LOVE COMPLICATIONS!  Okay, so, sometimes they frazzle our nerves, but they remind us of the messy, mixed up, all too uncertain moments that make up real life.  They get our heart rates escalated and our adrenaline racing. The conflict on the page and stage becomes the conflict in our souls.

We connect.  We hope for what we know the characters ultimately want and what we want for them.  Love him or hate him, Petruchio has our attention...and he certainly may be the first and only man who got Kate's.

He that knows better how to tighten the tension...let him speak!

Have fun!

Click Here


  1. It's really interesting to me how tension can be applied to so many different genres. This may be off topic from what the blog was focusing on, but I find it fascinating that there can be tension in a romantic work of literature and how tension can also be in something else like a horror novel or a comedy (like "Taming of The Shrew) and in all of these different places it still works to capture our attention and keep us at the edge of our seats. More to the point of tension regarding romance, they make it so that we can always see some aspect of ourselves in the characters that are portrayed. They make sure that they aren't a perfect princess or prince charming and that they are human just like the rest of us and make human mistakes like the rest of us. I feel it especially helps build tension with the use of dramatic irony. We tend to know what is happening to both characters involved in the "relationship" and are submerged in a sea of suspense when one character makes a poor decision or makes a mistake. This is seen in "Romeo and Juliet" when the friar's plan takes a turn for the worst. These elements help to keep readers and viewers wondering what will happen next and truly connecting with the characters.

    1. * "Taming of The Shrew"

      Forgot to close to close the quotation.

    2. So true! So did you look at the four examples? Go to "click here" above and read them and tell me how each accomplishes tension. :)

    3. Alex and Katherine remind me of an old married couple, or at least how I picture an old married couple. Although they don't appear to be dating in the book at that moment. It makes me think of how they bicker over the smallest disagreements, but in the end they still love each other and care for each other even when they are arguing or taking cheap jabs at each other and the tension between them can be shown in the arguments but, at least from Kate's point of view, you can see the underlying trust and magnetism between the two. The second one between Helene and Remy had a lot of tension at the beginning with the creepy guys watching Helene and talking to her. The tension grew substantially and then decayed to below it was before when Remy should up but then introduced himself. From there you can see through the tension like thin ice to the possible feelings that can grow between the two of them. For Mick and Mimi, I really like the cliffhanger that was there at the end of it. At first it seemed a lot like a guy who was trying really hard to impress a girl and doing so in an almost really awkward fashion, but genuinely trying nonetheless. The tension really begins to show when Mimi does not like the dress, but Mick tries to defend it. The tension is at its highest when Mimi starts to get worried and Mick almost turns into some dark villainous figure, but cuts off immediately when he parts his lips seeming like he was about to talk. This made me think he was going to kiss her. With Kate and Petruchio there is, of course, an enormous amount of humor and play on words. The tension really comes from the fact that Kate does not want to be married and Petruchio is trying to force her into it and "tame her" This tension seems to always be there in the play and I personally can still see it even after Kate is tamed because at that point she just seems like a robot.

  2. Before this thought provoking blog, tension to me was purely physical i.e staring, hitting, pulling on something or even stopping a physical action. Through these excerpts, however, I developed a better idea of what exactly tension meant in literature through real-life examples. In the first passage, we are introduced to Alex. Kate’s manner of informing the reader about Alex’s face and eyes and hair really made me delve deeper into his character despite the protagonist not expressing her liking for his attitude. When the two characters began their altercation, it was easy to side with the main as she seemed to be in the right of the situation. However, through their clash and exchange of witty remarks, tension was build as the main character began to deal with Alex through bartering. Strangely, as soon as that tension of anger was established, it diminished with romantic attraction, leading me to believe that these two characters, despite their obvious

  3. As The Bird Sings? You wrote this, Mrs. Caraway, didn’t you?! Anyways, This builds an ambiguous allure right off of the bat with the mysterious man (Remy) in the shadows. As a lady myself, I find Helen’s reaction to Remy extremely interesting. She is obviously attracted to his nature, adding yet another sort of romance to this otherwise scary scene. We are also given a very interesting take on Remy’s personality. His rough and tough exterior is instantly resolved into a kind a gentle interior, adding a stronger allure to his character. A fighting tension is build with the stranger group of men, followed by a romantic tension between Helen and Remy. That is two different kinds of tension in one passage! Another novel by you! Palooka! “Business as usual”? Sounds awfully suspicious if you ask me. There is defiantly uncertainty about Mick and his line of work. He is described as a monster with manners, an oddly tense situation being that Mimi went from afraid of him to standing up for herself and challenging his authority over her. It’s difficult to stand up for yourself when you’re afraid yet, she is not letting a man manipulate her. It is tense situation, but it is fletting due to how expertly she handled herself. Even though there is humor in the final passage, it is a battle of wits. And this kind of banter always keeps an audience on their toes. The common thread between all of these scenes is audio. It seems that no matter wether the scene is romantic or humorous, tension starts with a relationship between characters, platonic or not, and a few well placed words

  4. Excellent analysis here, Hayley, and might I also say, you have presented some very well chosen words to describe what you read. :) I am so intrigued by the way you described the common thread as audio. I have not heard that as a descriptive before, but I really like it. In each case, you are right: it is about the banter. We can see into the characters' minds to a degree (though one sided) in three of the examples, but in Kat and Petruchio's case, we see what we see, and must rely on intuition. You have excellent reader's intuition! Very intelligent argument.

  5. In each of these examples I noticed that the characters all had that tension mentioned in the blog. I also noticed that this tension was not something always physical such a fight but it was mostly internal. The first example, Kate talked about the hair and eyes of Alex. She talked about how much she disliked him but also how not "hot" he was but how he hypnotised her. At the end standing behind her she liked that he had called her Kate even though she had just had an arguement with him. It seems as though she created that tension through the conflict. I feel that was the same in Taming of the Shrew. It seemed as if "Words" had been based on Taming of the Shrew. In the other examples I noticed that the tone of the dialogue had a lot to do with the tension between characters. It causes issues. I also saw that in each of the examples one character mentioned the eyes of another. I think that had a lot to do with how the tension was felt by reading each passage.
    To comment on the first statement on the blog "Why Readers prefer Fabulously Flawed to Picture Perfect." I feel that this is true because it is like real life. Real life isn't picture perfect and if we read things that always were we would have an even more disturbed image of how things "should" be. It makes us feel better to see people struggle but also end up happy because that gives us hope for our dysfunctional lives.

  6. As I read these stories, I understood a clearer idea of how to perceive tension through literature. I’ve always known that tension could relate to matters aside from the physical development between two characters but with examples in front of my own face, I can see how exactly tension looks in matters such as dialogue.

    Kate’s description of Alex’s facade intrigued me quite a bit. She seems drawn to his character despite not appreciating his nonchalant and evan snarky attitude. Through their altercation, I definitely saw tension build as Kate began bartering with Alex. For her, there was a lot on the line, and choosing her words carefully seemed like the only out of this situation.

    I am familiar with this scene due to the fact that I have read it before, However, I never stopped to see the tension in this scene even though it is VERY clear to me now. The ambiguous hook right off of the bat with Remy masking himself in the shadows is a very physical interpretation of tension as we, as readers, are unsure what to expect from him. Soon after he is unmasked, we are permitted a very interesting take on Remy’s character almost instantly. His exterior devolves into a new kind of man, adding a stronger allure to his otherwise mysterious character. Though, I already understood Remy’s character prior to this passage, I can see the tension behind him as a secret savior to Helen.

    Though I haven’t read Palooka yet, I can say that I am already incredibly unsure of Mick… There is defiantly uncertainty about his profession. I must draw the same idea as Mimi because an oddly tense situation rises a little latter in the passage as she, going from a cautious state around Mick, stands up for herself and challenges his control over her. Any situation in which one talks back to an authority figure is tense. I think Mick could have probably put her back in her place right there, but he didn’t.. Interesting.

    Finally, Taming of the Shrew. This kind of witty back-and-forth always keeps an audience on their toes. All I can draw from this is the same I have drawn from each story, As Hayley described, a few meticulously placed words will do all the difference between two characters and their relationship with each other.

  7. All of these examples seemed to have different interpretations of what "tension" really is, which made them all the more interesting to read. In the first passage, Kate and Alex seem to be the more standoff-ish type of tension. There is a very clear, very forward sense of a power struggle in their interactions. Neither of them wants to give in to the other. One thing I noticed was how Kate seemed more focused on what Alex was doing, and how he reacted, as opposed to his physical nature (as others in the story supposedly focused on). Also, their fight is a very physical one as well; the fight for space. It's interesting that their struggle would be given such a corporeal equivalent in the story. In the second passage. The second one struck me as unusual, mostly because I didn't quite see the tension between the two characters. There is the initial tension between Helene and Remy when she doesn't know his intentions while he's in the shadows, but after that the struggle seems to mostly be inside of Helene. She's seems to be trying to understand Remy's nature, but all within herself. I suppose that's a more subtle type of tension. The third passage is a tricky one. To me, it seemed to be tension created through deception. Mimi is trying to see past what Mick displays to her, and to what he truly is. Mick is trying not only to keep the facade, but to convince her that it is reality, and not just a cover. Mimi focused heavily on his eyes, and how they change during their conversation. It seems fitting, since "the eyes are the windows to the soul". Mimi's struggle with MIck is to see past his smile, and through his eyes. In The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio and Kate have what is, to me, the most basic of all tensions: the battle of wits. Shakespeare uses massive amounts of wordplay to make it seem that they are constantly outwitting each other. One theme I noticed in the play at large was how each of them struggled to make the other seem in the wrong. Kate tries to make Petruchio seem boorish, rude, and arrogant, and Petrucio portrays Kate as sour, fickle, and charmless. Interestingly enough, Kate does this outright, but Petruchio seems satisfied to shower Kate with affection directly, and only criticize her subtly. Truly, one of the most twisted and devious "love stories" ever written.

  8. Awwww I loved all the stories! I am a romantic(as you already know), and reading the romantic tension between characters intrigues me. How can an author capture those moments on paper so beautifully? I love reading books that have tension, especially like the tension between Mimi and Mick. I feel like they're going to fall in love but Mimi will play hard to get and Mick will remain a mystery until he realizes how amazing Mimi is. The tension between Helene and Remy seemed to be very subtle and not really tension, more like unfamiliarity. The tension was mostly with the boys who were being creeps. Remy seemed more like a father figure than a lover. The tension between Alex and Kate made me smile, I can totally relate to Alex and how difficult he is. It's highly likely that they will be together happily ever after. As for Katherine and Petruchio, though, they had to learn about each other. I believe that during the process of learning about each other, they began to love the little things about them and when Katherine gives her monologue and Petruchio replies, that's there little way of showing their love for each other. The tension in all the stories make the story itself a lot more enjoyable, because without the tension we wouldn't know how the characters would be with each other and tension just makes everything a whole lot better (:

  9. The first excerpt kept my attention the most, mainly because I find personal experiences to someone relate to it. At the beginning the chapter Kate’s thoughts are, “As my luck would have it, Alex Monahan had been assigned to shoot the cover story”. I can picture the tone in her head while thinking this was with attitude with little bit of sass. Her tone changes by the end of the chapter when she says, “I liked it”, when he called her by Kate which she hasn’t been called since she was four. I see Kate as the girl who doesn’t want to be slowed downed by anyone and wont let anyone get in her way. The writer is pulling me in by the way Kate first speaks and describes Alex Monahan. The image I picture is the popular guy who doesn’t care but Alex has many layers, and when they were shown, I was satisfied but unsettled with it. Unsettled, in a good way making me want to know about him.

  10. In the first excerpt, the tension is quite plain between Kate and Alex. You can tell from the way she describes everything about Alex that she has feelings for him, whether she is aware of it herself or not. At the point where he cuts up the article with the razor, you can almost feel the tension from simply reading it. It’s as if the words come to life and put the situation in form of you. In the second example, the tension is more in the confrontation between Remy and the other men who were threatening Helene. The way that the men seem to fear Remy after he speaks gives one the feeling of just how much tension was in the air there. I felt it once again when he admitted to following Helene. There was obviously some sort of mistrust from her there, but a tension was plain to see as well. The tension in the third story comes to seem from no more than Mimi’s dislike of the attire that Mick has provided for her. She does not like how revealing the dress is, and this creates tension between him and her, as he refuses to let her decide whether she is wearing it or not. The last one is one that is all too familiar to me, and that is “The Taming of the Shrew”. It is the the constant arguing of Petruchio and Kate that causes the tension here, but I feel like the tension is not something felt by both parties. It seems to me that it is felt exclusively by Kate, as she is being told that she shall be married off to this rude stranger.

  11. All the stories were overall very good and enjoyed all of them. In the first story you can clearly tell that there is tension between Alex and Kate. At the beginning of the excerpt Kate refers to Alex as “irritating” and “arrogant”. For the most part Alex and Kate were at each others throats over the article. They both were able to come back very fast with their remarks and created tension When ever Alex started cutting the article I could feel the tension growing within Kate or every time Alex had such a rude come back to her.
    In the second sample it started off a lot of tension after strangers caught Helen sneaking out. It reminded me of a dark ally scene in a movie. The way the stranger talked to her was very creepy like as well which just added to the amount of tension. The way he used ‘sweetheart, and doll, pretty girl; I pictured it all to be spoken in joker like tone, along with the little laughs that were described. The tension slowly then started to lighten when Helen formally met Remy who seemed to have scared off the strangers.
    In the third sample started right off with tension just like the others when Mimi walks into a walks in to a conversation that was not meant for her. The tone of Mick was soft and made the tension stronger. He had almost a creepy character to him by his actions of running his hand against hers and how it was described he looked at her and way he spoke soft and slow. The tension grew when it seemed as if Mick liked Mimi as his eyes flickered to her lips. There was internal tension within Mimi on whether she liked Mick as well
    The last excerpt was from the book we are of course reading. The Taming of the Shrew, also my favorite scene from the play. This scene has obvious tension for power between Petruchio and Katharina. They create tension through their will to out wit the other. Kate starts off the tension when Petruchio tries to woo her and Katharina is not having it.

  12. I chose to analyze the first sample just because it’s the one that pulled me in the most. There are several reasons as to why it does pull me in, and I’ll mention those later, but for right now, Sample 1 pulled me in the most because it reminded me of a friendship I have with someone. This person is very similar to Alex just because he’s confident and he’s not bad looking either. He would do the same thing to me that Alex did to Kate. Anyways, here’s the analyzation. :)
    Sample 1:
    Tone: The tone is very argumentative and defensive. Alex and Kate are arguing over who should edit their pieces for The Viking Voice. However, towards the end of the excerpt, the tone changed to something relaxed and excited. They weren’t arguing anymore and he genuinely cared for her (Even though he was being mean earlier). I’d like to point out that at the end of the excerpt, the tone changed, to me anyways, when it said: ”Had he just called me Kate? No one ever called me that, not since I was four, anyway. I hated the name Kate. Somehow, though, it sounded different when he said it. Better. I liked it.” The tone changed for me in this instance because They were arguing just a moment ago and Kate was saying how much he annoyed her and then when he calls her “Kate”, she admits that he likes it when he calls her that.
    Characterization: Alex and Kate are very different in their personality. Alex is described as the “hot, arrogant asshole.” He was described as not really arrogant, more as really confident. In who he is, how he acts, just everything about him screams confidence. Kate on the other hand is nice and confident. She also controls her feelings pretty well. She stands up for her work and who she is and doesn’t back down to anyone.
    Diction: The diction in this sample is informal. Alex and Kate are in high school and they’re very informal with each other because they’re friends.
    Imagery: The authors did very well on their imagery. When they were describing the picture that Alex caught with his camera, I could imagine what it looked like. I could also imagine them talking to each other and arguing with each other.
    Pulling me in?: The thing that pulled me in was that the character who was talking, Kate, was talking to me. It was like she was describing everything to just me like she was a real person.
    Which technique works best for me?: The technique that works best for me is when it feels like the character is talking to me and when it immediately starts with the story but describes the scene and characters throughout the story.

  13. All of the excerpts definitely have one thing in common: the men are trying to control the women. They are domineering and if they don't get what they want, they start to act dangerous and they scare the women. Despite the fear or comfortableness, the women are always somehow caught up in their gaze or hypnotized by them. One of the women thinks this, "Remy’s stare remained fixed on her, making her more than just a little uncomfortable, although she realized that she actually felt quite safe". The women are uncomfortable, but for some reason that feels safe to them because it's what's expected of them. Apparently in our world, if someone is domineering then that means you need to be attracted to them.

    I also want to say that I hate tension like that. I hate it when two people hate each other then start figuring out they are actually attracted to each other. If someone feels dangerous or they're an asshole, that means you stay away from them and don't keep hanging around them. It's frustrating and I can sometimes read it if it's written well and if it feels real, but otherwise it seems stupid to me. First impressions aren't always true, but if someone doesn't treat you right you don't need to try to change them. You can't change anyone, they have to do it themselves.

    1. Perception is such a fascinating thing. I respectfully disagree--I did not see the men here as scary or dangerous, though there is definitely a battle for control that is going on here, and that is common to the human race. I can speak from personal experience that battles for control don't always mean that one person is a "jerk" (to use a different word here) but certainly it does mean that control is important because it makes us feel less vulnerable, which can be scary and dangerous. Remy in the story is actually very gentle to Helene and protects her time and time again as she gets herself into trouble.

  14. The First article had a humorous tone to it I feel due to the childish “fight” they had over the article and the picture. Katherine Seems to be that really stiff person when it comes to finishing things and she also seems like a HUGE perfectionist. She reminds me of the time you had told us that sometimes in writing you have to cut your darlings. However, for her, she had to cut 200 darlings in the end, haha.The diction is really simple and it allows us to relate well because most of us talk with the same kind of diction as is used in this passage.The imagery comes in the form of the small details about their facial expressions and also just how they treat each other. You get a scene where Alex is portrayed to be a bit taller then Katherine and holds the folder of photographs up and out of her reach making her more irritated about the situation pertaining to the cover story of her first newspaper of the year. Tension is created in this first story after we find out that Katherine has one hour left to put the cover story together before the newspaper needs to be published, and Alex starts to cause trouble for her and tears her story to pieces so that it will all fit on the page and tells her then that she should cut 200 words. This is what raises the stakes in the story so far; that she has no time left to finish and she has to find a way to fit everything onto a page and also keep her story perfect. It makes us all want to cheer for her and tell her she is going to complete it easy peezy. There’s also some more tension that is created when Alex turns her chair around and calls her by a nickname. It’s one of those heart pounding scenes that make all the girls want to scream because you know something is going to happen between them, or that’s what we want to happen.
    I felt the tons of this second piece were exhaustion, shock, and also gratefulness. Helene tells us about how exhausted she is with her studies and her family in general. It seems they push her extremely hard to be something better than what she is currently. I saw shock as a tone when she encountered the two “thugs” in the alleyway and also she she was surrounded by them and Remy. It was terrifying to be spotted when leaving her room and it caused her a lot of stress over that short period of time. I saw gratefulness in the sense that she was grateful to run into Remy and him running the two thugs off. I also saw this tone when she was given the chocolate pastry, especially when she is uneasy about eating in front of her family. While Helene is an introvert, Remy seems to be more of the person to speak his mind and to help others in need. He also gives off this gentlemanly vibe persay and seems to have good manners as well. The diction seems to be a bit older than our time, not so much as like 400 years older but a few decades or so due to the “cobblestone” streets and such. You don’t really see that stuff now a days. There’s a large amount of imagery here with the fine details about the shadows at night and how the streets looked at night. You can picture all of the drunk people out and about around the time she decided to leave her house as well. The thing that works the most for me in this passage is the typical nice guy thing that’s going on. Girls in trouble and then the nice guy walks up and saves her. I love those kinds of stories sometimes and it can be really cute. The tension in this one is when she is found by the two kids in the alleyway and they keep catcalling her. I honestly thought she was going to get raped or something along those lines because of the way they were addressing Helene asking her if she wanted to “relax and have some fun”. The stakes were raised at that point because she got caught by someone while trying to get away from her crazy family life, and that time alone was something special to her that she couldn't just lose.

    1. Ok, so the ending between Mimi and Mick made me mad. Come on man.. just they needed to kiss. Anyway, The tone of this piece was one of tension. It had a lot going on between her not getting caught eavesdropping in on the initial conversation and her being on edge the whole time talking to Mick about the dresses. You could feel the denial. I mean she obviously has feelings for him, and he has some for her. It’s just the irony of this piece is too much for me to handle. Mimi has high moral standards and she doesn’t want to be seen as anything but a lady. Thus she turns down a short short dress for one that most ladies wouldn’t want to wear. Mick, from what i have read before, is still the same old Mick, he has less developement i think, unless i have the order of the chapters wrong, but M ick seems less troubled than he was in a section that i previously read. The diction is an older style, one used in the 1920’s obviously, due to the talking about the booze being fought over and such earlier in the passage. Again with the details for the imagery in this one. It’s got enough details to allow the reader to see the dresses as if they were right in front of them, and the way it’s written, you can kind of picture some sort of room as well that they are in. The tension is built up a lot when Mick starts talking to her, and she doesn’t want to be there at all. She feels cornered for most of the conversation and she seems to be sort of miserable as well. The stakes are heightened when she feels almost violated by the dress choice when it came to the blue dress and her turning him down. They are also heightened when she yells at him towards the end of the passage about being two faced, and then noticed the emotions clouding his face. What works for me in this passage is just the amount of tension that is built up. It keeps me on edge and it ultimately leaves you wanting to read more.
      I love this scene in The taming of the Shrew. The tone is very humorous and has anger slithering through it. Petruchio in this scene just toys around with Kate and shows her how she acts towards other people, and this basically pisses her off. In this scene you can see Petruchio’s personality and how he doesn’t like people being disrespectful, even though he can be a bit himself. Kate in the beginning of the play in this scene is very feisty and tends to not want to put up with others or the idea of being the less liked daughter in the family.The diction is Shakespearian english, just as it was written in a time about 400 years ago. It makes the play sometimes very difficult for me to understand, however, it allows for him to describe things in such a unique way that gives his plays that extra push. There’s a lot of interesting imagery in this one as well, between the animal references and just them running around, teasing each other the whole scene. You can just picture Petruchio laughing and smiling enjoying what might be the rest of his life, while Kate is angrily throwing her fist in the air running after him, always a few steps behind. The tension builds up as Kate’s and Petruchio’s conversation continues on and they start arguing more. It almost seems they are going to tear each other apart.What works for me in this last piece is just the fact you have a couple fighting in the most hilarious way. I love it and it always brings a smile to my face when i read it.

  15. The first sample definitely creates some tension between Alex and Katherine at first. The author creates this tension by showing the importance of something to someone (the article to Katherine) and then having that thing destroyed by someone else. I think the reader tends to sympathize with Katherine. We know how it feels to work so hard on something and then have it turn out horribly. However, towards the end, the tension is completely released. It is almost a calm setting. The author portrays this by including that "he put his hand lightly on my shoulder and turned me to face him." Now, it has turned into a somewhat "romantic" scene. I don't see this with The Taming of The Shrew. There was always tension between characters, primarily Petruchio and Kate, until the end, of course. However, it is interesting that in such a short snippet of a story, the tone can change completely.

    The second sample played with tension and tone a lot! First, I felt tension when the two men started to harass Helene, then it released some when Remy came to her rescue, which played with characterization. However, when all the men began to argue again, the tone caused me to feel, once again, tense. But, no fear! Remy saved the damsel in distress and treated her kindly. Like the first book, the sample ended romantically. So much play on emotions!

    Words like, hijacked, frozen, and awkward give great imagery of the scene in Palooka. Overall, the whole passage just seemed awkward. I could almost feel the uncomfortableness from Mimi. It was a mixture of tone and imagery that made me feel this way. Describing Mick's smily as wry and mentioning how strange Mimi felt when Mick touched her hand really makes me "see" it. Also, Mimi's firm tone when she told Mick she wasn't going to wear the dress caused tension among the characters and the reader.

    I really like this scene. A lot of the tension, I think, is created by Kate. She is the one arguing when Petruchio is playfully antagonizing her, which is fueling her anger. Words like wasp, sting, and buzz cause me great anxiety, mostly because I fear flying bugs. So that proves some imagery. Also, as far as tone goes, when Petruchio says "That you shall be my wife, your dowry 'greed on; And, will you, nill you, I marry you" it totally shows how power-hungry and controlling Petruchio is. Likewise, Kate's stubborn tone contributes to the tension

    Thank you for the samples! It was very interesting to read the different kinds of tones, tension types, imagery and characterization! You are a great writer! Creating the right kind and amount of tension is hard, but I think you do it very well in your books.

  16. Looking at these snip-bits of literature, I think there are different forms of tension. Obviously, all of them include some form of tension but I found a few of them to be different. In the first example, I think it could actually be argued that there are two separate parts of tension or at least two different forms colliding together. We see the characters described as working hard on both of their ends of the project but when they come together there seems to be a tension that slightly involves a one-sided anger insert. After Alex and Kate discuss the situation a bit further, we can see the situation reveal a bit of romantic tension. In the second exert, to me, the tension is fearful when Helene is walking alone at night and being followed. The rest of the story seems to ply out with little tension. In the third excerpt, I saw tension through the whole piece. To me it was almost fearful and I felt that the diction helped the characters and the audience feel the underlying sexual tension, although I felt that the readers might be able to really feel the tension as the story ended and Mimi was waiting for Mick's possible venom. Lastly, in the third sample, I found it especially hard to find the tension, because for me even still reading his work takes a bit getting used to, but I believe that even though Pertucio and Kate were arguing the whole time the true tension was shown after Kate hits Pertuchio. Thanks for the stories and a great year!!

  17. All four samples definitely showed tension. I think tension in a story makes it more interesting and gets you hooked and you dont want to stop reading. In all of the samples the tone is pretty much the same, they are all kinda argumentative. The first and second one got my attention the most and both of the endings surprised me. I think thats probably why they got my attention because I thought I knew the outcome and wanted to see what would happen and I turned out to be wrong. I think the first and even the second one showed tension by the reading not knowing what is going to happen. It kind of scares the reader into thinking one thing but then the outcome is totally opposite of what you would expect. Honestly the third one was hard for me to understand probably jus because I got side tracked but im pretty sure there was tension because he was creepy and she was quiet. The fourth one showed tension by katherine arguing with him and he starts to argue back, but its not really arguing.

  18. I was aware, before I read this that tension wasn't only physical. It can also be a mental state or feeling, as well. When Kate started talking about Alex’s eyes, and how he hypnotized her, it was kind of fascinating. It got me thinking about that moment you first meet someone; how you take in who they are all at once. I don’t know why that is what I thought about, but I guess that is kind of hypnotizing. I like that description for it.
    After all four of the samples were read, I realized how much it related to The Taming of the Shrew. I just go back to my favorite part; during their banter. There’s anger and romantic tension in that banter. Maybe so many people are drawn to their relationship, because of their tension, and how it isn't always the same kind.
    I believe that tension (no matter what kind), is important for any story. It reminds me of when I was reading this book called Thirteen Reasons Why. The whole premise was a girl that died, and made a recording for everyone who was the cause of her death. The beginning of it was interesting, but not as much as I was nearing the end. It was all from the perspective of a guy who is listening to the recording, and waiting for the girl to explain why he was a part of her death. It was the tension leading up to why he was involved that made me never want to stop reading it. I woke up one morning, and just read it all of the way through to the end. I guess if there never was any tension, you wouldn't be as involved in books and plays. These samples just explained this further.

  19. Sorry for the late response, my weekend got all fuzzy, thinking today was Sunday, because school is tomorrow. Thought I had more time.

    Tension, is not what I crave, in all honesty. I do not want things to be very complicated, and hard to get to, and deal with, and understand. I don't want weird, uncomfortable, yet "hypnotizing" tension. Sorry, but simple and easy always seems to be the better route, and leaves everyone on the same page.
    In these examples, all I saw were women constantly trying to battle to be at the same level as the other male character, or be respected the same.
    In the first example, the girl is the editor. She's the person in charge, yet this boy thinks he can control her, and disrespects her writing, and tells her what she IS GOING TO DO. And then she gives in. Even though he had no right.
    In the second example, we meet Helene, who is being wildly disrespected by the group of men in the alley, and made to feel unsafe. Then we see Remy. Who is some random guy, coming out of the works, trying to save her. Like she is a damsel in distress. Which is fine, but it just seems like a very overplayed plot, and women do not NEED to be saved all of the time. Let us screw up! Unless what were doing mean death, or close to it, sometimes we can screw up. And we do not need to be saved.
    In the third example, Mimi is facing some kind of internal battle about Mick, and literally sexualizing everything he does, but Mick still thinks he controls her, and doesn't really respect her wishes. Per usual, in these examples.
    And the 4th example, the classic one, where it is really shown, that women are not respected in this at all, and their wishes, do not matter. They act like everything is amusing, or a game. I think all of the male characters portrayed in this are smug. And arrogant. And then these women somehow are hypnotized or they fall in love with them. Every time. I don't think a lot of this displays healthy expectations, or something to strive for. Except that is exactly what is laid out in front of us, and is the norm of what to expect in love encounters.
    I would love to read a book where the characters meet, they are simply friends, and then one of them finally admits their feelings, and it either goes horribly wrong, or it goes right. And then we get to see them build on a real, relationship, and not this "hate you" fake tension we are so used to seeing and expecting.

  20. I will admit right now, for everyone to see, that I love tension. I love writing it, I love reading it. I one hundred percent agree that perfect relationships can get really old to read about because they don't exist.
    I can honestly say some of my favorite scenes in books are really good fights. Obviously not abusive or physical fights, but the kind of fights that involve chasing someones car down the parking lot and extreme vulnerability of a character's emotions. (Is that strange? I may have a problem).

    I really enjoyed the different types of tension throughout all the examples. It was a good way to see how tension really defines a relationship. I never looked at it that way.

    1. I agree, Katryna. The "we meet, we like each other, we are together" plot bores me. I like a little fire. And, I will not apologize for being a little old fashioned, to boot. ;) Totally know what you mean about extreme vulnerability. I think people overanalyze tension at times and turn it into something political, as the article about Shrew stated. It depends on the situation. Life is FULL of tension. :)

  21. Sorry for the late response, I have been extremely busy these last weeks with all the work due.

    1. The tone in the first sample was very laid back and increasingly got more tense as the conversation between Kate and Alex went along. The Characterization and imagery was truly brought out by the author in a very clear way, especially the descriptions of the characters, for example Alex’s hair.
    2. The tension in this one was kind of hard because the reader always already feels the tension from Remy because he is lerking in the shadows, but who would’t be a little tense because of that right? The author is definitely wanting you to feel the emotions that Helene is feeling from the events occurring.
    3. There is an obvious tension between Mimi and Mick in this passage because of how controlling and over powering Mick reveals himself as. The author truly shows the character through their examinations of each other.
    4. The tension in the last passage from “The Taming of the Shrew”, definitely shows tension. There is constant tension between the characters throughout the whole play; they are constantly trying to one up each other. As far as imagery goes, Shakespeare is very good and making analogies and using Kate and Petruchio to describe each other through objects and animals.

  22. The first article has a tone of very descriptive of Alex. It is simple, and then it gets more tense as Kate and Alex's argument progresses. The characters and imagery were brought out through other characters. For example Kate describing how Alex's hair looked. In the second article, the tension also increases as the article goes on. Helene is being followed by two mysterious men, and is later saved by Remy. In the third article, the tension increases as well with the argument between Mimi and Mick. Mick creates the tension as being overpowering against Mimi. In the fourth article, the tension is created by Kate and Petruchio trying to one up each other in their arguments. All four of these articles show tension in some way, and the tension is different in each article.

  23. So, I absolutely LOVE a great bad guy! Especially one of those bad guys you are rooting to be good. Those bad guys that aren't all the way bad. The bad guys that love to make everything complicated! It's how they interact with different characters that I love, the different types of tensions they evoke from each individual characters.
    Having said that I loved the different types of tensions in these stories, from the fighting to knowing something you aren't suppose to know. It's all that that makes up the best stories. Plus it makes it real. No one has a tension free life.

  24. Sample 1 has tension between the two characters Alex and Katherine. Katherine had an article that she worked hard on. Alex wanted his picture to be on there, but did not fit. He wanted her to cut her article. For someone who worked really hard to make it all flow together and have every word that was included be so important, is hard to just get rid of. I felt like this tension can be compared to little kids fighting and arguing. In the second sample, there was tension between the two men and Helene. They were harassing her until someone else came and there was more tension when he started talking back to the other two men. There is a lot of tension between Kate and Petruchio. There is a lot of going back and forth with each other and a lot of play on words by Petruchio. He is also very playful in his tone. Tension makes the story more interesting and keeps me very involved and wanting to know what will happen next.

  25. Tension has always been tough thing for me to find especially in text. Not sure why though. I only see it when I look for it or expect it. For example when I read the passage with the two men harassing Helene and her retaliation after someone new came into play, I had to look for the tension there, because thats what this blog is about. I know it's there I just tend not to notice it. Unless I can feel it in the air, during something thats happening right in front of me. Like in a play.

  26. I liked the arrows for their help in organizing your notes.