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At its best, tension is not the leaping-out-from-behind-the-door jolt that moves a narrative forward, but a much less visible rhythm of positive and negative values and valences, at every level: story arc, scene, sentence, even word level: a shimmering electrical current of positives, negatives, and neutralities. Bring some samples of your work (remember, good writing is specific writing), and we’ll examine them for tension, then discuss. Extra credit: In your work, please be versed in the differences between lie and lay, further and farther, etc.!
Rick Bass is a former petroleum geologist and wildlife biologist and the author of seventeen books, including a short story collection, The Hermit’s Story; a memoir, Why I Came West; and the novel All the Land to Hold Us (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).