1. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    Stories with no tension

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by marcusl, Sep 30, 2009.

    Often when I come across a romance story, if I care about the characters, I just want to see the hero and heroine get together. During these stories, the guy and girl would often quarrel for the sake of conflict, but that just makes me sad. I think it's just because I'm such a peaceful person (... yeah :p). Has anyone else experienced this?

    I've also watched several anime that are just about the characters doing daily stuff. They're usually comedy titles. There will be some occasional tension, but you always know things are going to be okay. I was just wondering if this kind of tale would work as a novel? All the novels I've read are all so dramatic, so I would like to know if a peaceful story would work.

    Thanks.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I really can't see it being at all entertaining. Readers want conflict and drama, to see people in those kinds of situations and see how they respond. And there's a difference between knowing it will work out okay and not having tension. Working out okay is literally the definition of comedy (well, that and a wedding), but that doesn't mean that comedies aren't full of coflicts and tensions.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I will second arron89 on this.

    A story with no tension or conflict is a gin and tonic with just tonic. What's the point? The gin might be a bit much to take by itself, so a bit of tonic to chill things out, but you didn't buy the drink for the tonic.

    Tonic is not interesting, just fizzy. Now the gin is another matter altogether..
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Even in the examples you've chosen, there is a hidden, underlying tension. In the romance, they should be together, you know they're meant to be together, but they aren't- and thus, there is tension. In the slice-of-life story, things should go back the way they were, they are going to go back the way they were, but right now they aren't- and thus, there is tension. The audience keeps watching, not because they want to know the answer, but because they want to know just how the narrative will bring them the answer they know is coming.

    Those narratives often function like family trips. You know where you're going. That much is obvious. It's about the windmill that you pass, the roadside stops, the car songs along the way, the intensely boring stretches when you really want to start singing about the bottles on the wall but you know that will make your dad turn this damn car around.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can have stories with no real tension, plot or conflicts.

    Last night I watched "Before Sunrise" for the first time. This movie is about two perfectly normal people in a perfectly normal world, going on a perfectly normal date, and all they do is talk about subtle banalities and kiss a bit before they go seperate ways.

    It is perhaps the most boring movie I have ever seen, but that's just my oppinion apparently, since this movie ranks very high on IMDB (It has a score of 8.0/10)
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Whoa are you kidding me? Putting aside all the other things that make that movie incredible, it is filled with tension. Sexual, philosophical, intellectual, emotional conflict basically from beginnng to end. It may be one long conversation but it is one that is absolutely brimming with tension. Hence, the high score on IMDB. I really think you should watch it (and its sequel) again...if you didn't find it compelling maybe you were missing things....or maybe its just not your kinda thing, but there was definitely tension there.
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe I'm just to old to be taken away by a couple of 20 year olds applying pop-psychology to their totally ordinary conversations. The romantic tension was nothing profound. I've had more romantic tension with supermarket cashiers. I understood exactly what the movie tried to do, it just didn't appeal to me the slightest. Maybe if I was 20 or younger and single, I might have seen something in it.

    But this is turning into thread-hijacking and should be discussed in another forum.

    My real point was that you can get away with stories that have no dramatic plot.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Dramatic plot and tension aren't the same thing. I never said that you needed a dramatic plot to make a story readable, I argued you needed some kind of tension or conflict. The example of Before Sunrise proves perfectly how you can make a very effective and successful work out of virtually no story, but compelling writing and the creaion of tension.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm still saying that the tension is minimal. Two characters, who are perfect in every sense of the word become attracted to eachother and have a perfect but brief romance. That's not tension in my book. Romeo and Juliet has tension.

    In "Before Sunrise" nobody makes any mistakes, says anything wrong or struggle with themselves or eachother. The characters are perfect and everything they do is perfect. It's a fantasy of a perfect date and that bores me.
     
  10. Vi Ladoli
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    Vi Ladoli New Member

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    Most tensions and conflicts between lovers I see/watch are usually because of misunderstandings, which further lead to a growing grudge. Sometimes when a character turns on the protagonist because of a misconception, which the protagonist knows about, I keep on wishing that he'd tell the other guy the truth -- but seldom does.

    But like "Before Sunrise", if the story does not have that much tension, if there's nothing that makes the reader want to argue with what the character is doing, the interaction of the book to the reader becomes one-sided, and eventually lacking and maybe boring.
     

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