- Now Novel’s How to Create Tension in a Story: “Keep raising the stakes: Your story needs several points where tension reaches a peak.”
Writer’s Digest’s How to Build Tension and Heighten the Stakes: “Do the flashbacks contain tension, or do they meander backward in time?”
Grammarly’s Suspense: 4 Tips for Putting More Tension into Your Writing: “Talking the reader through the characters’ worrying thoughts, doubts, and feelings reinforces suspense because it becomes clear that the characters don’t know how they might make it out of the situations they are in. The element of unknowing keeps the audience hooked.”
- Ingrid Sundberg’s 12 Ways to Create Suspense: “We all wonder if we can we live up to the expectations around us. Build tension through what others expect of your main character. How do those expectations stress the character out? Self expectations can also be used as well.”
- The Creative Penn’s Writing Fiction: Creating Friction With Clashing Personalities: “Conflicting personalities rub against one another, allowing writers to maximize moments when characters come together. After all, if everyone in the scene “plays nice,” the story gets boring quickly. With a bit of character planning, matching up clashing personality traits offers a quick road to friction.”
- The Literary Lab’s How to Create Tension: “Basically, I think a skilled writer can somehow convince a reader to trust them enough to follow them anywhere. Then, they can present material that might seem random or disconnected, and it creates tension because a devoted fan will wonder how it’s all going to come together. They’ll read on to find out.”
- Be a Better Writer’s Writing Dialogue with Tension: “Readers should have no trouble distinguishing one character from another according to what each character says and how he or she says it, just as we can recognize our friends by their attitudes and speech mannerisms.”
- Margaret Moore’s Tension: “Foreshadowing — the author hints or implies future developments”
- Writers in the Storm’s Using A Crowd To Create Tension In Your Story: “A Crowd is a great tool to create tension, good and bad. It can also be used to highlight character personality quirks.”
- Terri Giuliano Long’s Setting and Atmosphere, Part 2: 3 Ways to Use Setting and Atmosphere to Create Narrative Tension: “Darkness, turbulent weather and other forces of nature put people on edge.”
- WikiHow’s How to Write Tension: “Don’t be scared, experiment with your writing, if you don’t like it, re-write.”Writer’s Digest’s How to Build Tension and Heighten the Stakes: “Do the flashbacks contain tension, or do they meander backward in time?”
- New York
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
One thing that needs to be said about these letters is that there’s a lot of conscious image-making going on in them. As one of his biographers, Jeffrey Meyers, has noted, Hemingway pursued a path of “scrupulous honesty in his fiction” but routinely felt compelled, in both his conversation and correspondence, “to distort and rewrite the story of his life.” Indeed, already in these documents dating to his late twenties, we find Hemingway recounting his experiences in a way calculated to make him come off as the same strong, stoic figure who, in succeeding decades, would take hold of imaginations around the world, thanks largely to splashy Life and Look photo spreads of the Nobel laureate on safari, at bullfights, and deep-sea fishing.
Not Hemingway. He didn’t labor over these things—to put it mildly. When he wrote to his parents and editors, his main objective was to get certain personal or professional obligations out of the way; his letters to such eminences as T. S. Eliot and James Joyce, in which he faked at least a touch of humility and deference, were chiefly a means of networking. Even when he’s sending off dispatches to such authentic amis as Ezra Pound, Archibald MacLeish, and Gerald and Sara Murphy, with whom he’s truly eager to stay in touch and swap literary news and gossip, he’s not out to amuse or scintillate; on the contrary, you can feel him winding down after a day of “real” writing.
Even more than art, literature is fundamental to my life. Reading was so important to my development as a child and continues to expand my horizons to this day. I earn my living as a writer and an editor, but even my social calendar revolves around literary events. Literature is very much a part of my identity, and I make a priority for it in my life.
Big Sur (an adaptation of Kerouac’s novel) on Netflix
Epic four-hour brunch at The District with two writer friends, talking about “ethnic” literature, faith, and relationships.
After Sunset: Poetry Walk on the High Line.
My friends surprising me by taking me to a book-themed restaurant on my first night in Budapest.
Reading Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, a recommendation from my friend Jane.
Brunch with my friend Misako Oba, whose new book of photography and memoir, which I helped edit, was published.
Drinks with one of my favorite people at Durden, a bar based on author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel-turned-movie Fight Club.
New York City Poetry Festival with my writing group partner.
Reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” (coauthored with Paul Maher Jr.) at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City.
Teaching a writing class at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
Brunch at Caffe Reggio, where Jack Kerouac and friends used to hang out.
Speaking on the panel Lessons Learned: Published Authors Share Hard-Earned Insights with Nana Brew-Hammond, Kerika Fields, Melissa Walker, Ruiyan Xu, and Jakki Kerubo at BinderCon.
Meeting regularly with one of my best friends to read and write together at the New York Public Library.
Checking out the Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum with a friend who is a huge Hemingway fan.
Spotting a first edition copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin.
Reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.
Burning Furiously Beautiful on sale at Barnes & Noble.
Burning Furiously Beautiful on sale at Amazon.
My Pinterest posts called Lit Life.
I’m on Twitter.
Fred W. McDarrah: The Artist’s World at Steven Kasher Gallery. McDarrah took photographs of the Beat and Abstract Expressionist scene in New York City.
I took this photograph in May of this year while standing on the beach across from my parents’ house in Greece. The name of the beach is Lagouvardos, which is part of the Peloponnese. I’d stolen one last look at the beach before I traveled back up to Athens to catch a plane.
Like the tides, I have a come-and-go relationship with Greece. It seems like I no sooner arrive, and it’s time for me to leave again. Perhaps like so many children of immigrants, I struggle with the concept of home. I call New York my home. I love the skyscrapers and window-shops, the fast-paced energy. It’s difficult in the beginning for me to settle into the quieter lifestyle of Greece, and yet soon it feels as if I’ve been there all along. Indeed, I’ve known my family’s house in Greece many years longer than the apartment I now live in in New York. More than that, it’s family that makes a home. It’s heartbreaking every time I have to leave.
I created Hellas: A 2016 Calendar to capture the natural beauty of Lagouvardos and Filiatra. The photographs show the blue, blue waters my father grew up swimming in; wildflowers that signify Greek resilience; our blue-and-white flag flying victoriously; and mountains rising toward heaven.
Experience the beauty of Greece every day of the year with Hellas, a 2016 calendar. The natural landscape of the Mediterranean comes to life in rich, colorful photography of Greek beaches, wildflowers, and lush palm trees. As you record your daily appointments in the calendar, the stresses of life will recede like the tide of the ocean in these stunning photographs.
Purchase your own copy of Hellas here.
Credit Illustration by Jillian Tamaki via The New York Times
I love Q&As and was thrilled to read her answers to The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review “By the Book” column. I got some great reading inspiration (Annie Liontas’ Let Me Explain You, about a Greek-American family), I loved her answers to whom she’d invite to a literary party (can I get an invite?!), and I was happy to discover her favorite memoir is St. Augustine’s Confessions, since I had recently discussed the book in my class “Writing Under the Influence of the Beat Generation” at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
I was especially intrigued by her question “Do Flannery O’Connor’s letters count?” to the question “Who are the best memoirists ever?” I used Kerouac’s letters for much of my research for Burning Furiously Beautiful. I think in some way, letters are a form of memoir. In another way, though, they don’t necessarily adhere to the intentional literary craft I discussed in my response to “In the Age of Memoir, What’s the Legacy of the Confessional Mode?” Though a great letter writer is better than a mediocre memoirist!
You can read the full interview with Mary Karr here.