This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, January 25, 2010

Writing the Critical Moment

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

It's important to write building scenes as we work to heighten the tension, drama, and plot of a story. When we get to those critical moments, the writing must be different. One way to change the tone and heighten the intensity is to slow the pacing. Concentrate on each beat, breath, thought. Think of the movies and how you can hear a character's heartbeat and breathing while everything is moving in slow motion. We can do this with our words.

First Example:
The gun exploded. Jake's shoulder burned in pain as the shot lifted him off his feet and on his backside upon the compact dirt. Warm liquid soaked his shirt as he realized no one would find him in the darkened alley--not until it was too late.

Second Example:
The gun popped and exploded. Jake's pulse quickened like a drum through his ears. His chest pounded against his ribs as he braced for the impact. The bullet burned into his shoulder...ripping through his flesh...searing muscle...and crashing into bone. He shot through the air like a cannon ball. His body collided against the compact dirt as he gasped for breath. He lay in a mind-numbing heap as the pain consumed him. The scent of blood and dust encircled him. The only sound was his heartbeat. Bum-bum...bum-bum...bum-bum. How long before it weakened and silenced forever? Fear slinked up his spine as warm liquid soaked his shirt. No one would find him in this remote, black alley--not until it was too late.


Great examples! I really need to watch for this in my novels. I might have to go back now and add some tense details. Love this, thanx.

I am currently struggling with this, so how happy I was to stumble on this post. Thanks! My head is swimming with new ideas, and words...