Tension builds. Like a spring or elastic band being stretched tight, writers build energy in a story or poem. Something bad is going to happen...any...minute... now.
This is also called 'suspense'. Writers create a suspenseful atmosphere - as if you're being dangled, suspended over the edge of a cliff, clinging by your fingertips.
They slow down the pace of the story and make you wait. They create a sense of danger - an ominous, foreboding mood that a something bad is going to happen. They may use cliffhangers, or eerie, disturbing ideas. They may create a dark mood.
In 'Wind', Ted Hughes uses literal images of tension:
- 'the guyrope strained'
- 'we grip'
- 'the note that any second would shatter it'
In 'Sonnet 116', Shakespeare builds tension with images of:
- 'admit impediments' (problems)
- 'tempests' and 'shaken'
- 'edge of doom'
In 'Pike' by Ted Hughes, there's a lovely mixture of horror and slow-building tension:
- 'killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin'
- 'they spare nobody'
- 'I dared not'
- 'the hair frozen on my head'
- 'still splashes on the dark pond'
- 'rose slowly toward me'
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