In most fictional picture books, MG and YA novels, the character faces a problem or goal. The story builds as the character makes multiple attempts to solve the problem or reach the goal. Think about the part leading up to the moment of victory. Slow down the action in this part of the story, so you won’t reveal the outcome quickly. Slowing the action builds tension. Tension builds suspense. The suspense keeps the reader hanging on to know more, cheering on the protagonist, and holding on to finish the story.
So how do writers slow down the action? One way is to add details that delay the resolution. In Barreling Over Niagara Falls, I focused the action between the barrel ride and the crowd who watched the daredevil stunt. Refocusing the text between the main character’s action of dropping over the Falls into the pool of water and turning the page to reveal the people watching, prolonged the reader from knowing the final outcome.
Another way to slow action is to write longer sentences. Short sentences speed the action, and longer sentences slow it.
Think about ways to slow the action in order to build tension and hold the reader’s attention to the last page.
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