As a suspense writer I love a good action scene or an unforgettable twist, but I also love writing those fun scenes. You know, the scene (or part of a scene) where, in the midst of all the drama, the mood is lightened slightly by a funny image or a witty comment.
Bits like this are great for easing tension in a overbearing scene. Of course, like all tools in a writer's arsenal, they can be overused as well. Too many of them can break the tension, shattering the illusion we spent so long building. These scenes are a great way to show a different side to the characters as they grow and change throughout the novel.
For instance, in Dividing Spirits, both the hero and heroine can be a little too serious. I mean, it's kind of hard not to be when people around you keep dying and you know the malevolent force is supernatural. But my heroine can tell when the hero's moods are getting just a little too "in a funk", and she will squash her seriousness just to get a smile out of him.
In the following scene, Ninevah and Graham just had a huge argument the night before where Graham said some rather rude things (he always seems to be sticking his foot in his mouth).
Graham found Ninevah in bed the next morning. He rapped lightly on the frame of the open door and waited until she looked his way. His stomach dropped. Her skin was still too pale.
She sat up, beckoning for him to come in.
“How are you this morning?”
“Tired.” Her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Well, the past few days haven’t exactly been a vacation at the beach, have they?”
She laughed. “No, not even close. I think I’d much rather be at the beach.”
“Me too.” He chuckled with her, but then an uncomfortable tension settled over them. His feelings from last night demanded to be addressed, but he actually had business to attend to. He sat down on the edge of her bed. “I came up here for a reason.”
She raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”
“Rochester’s hearing is tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? I must have lost track of time.”
“Even though you don’t remember anything about the accident, I still think you should come. I have to go.”
“Why should I go?” Her eyes bulged. “They don’t want me to testify or something, do they?”
“No.” He held up his hands. “I just thought maybe, since you might be starting to remember things, if you saw him in person, it might jog your memory.”
Ninevah focused on the ceiling. He waited for her answer, but she remained silent.
“You really think I should?”
“Okay. I guess that gives Miralee and me even more reason to go shopping. I need a suit.”
“The hearing is at nine, I’ve got to be at work at seven, but I’ll be back here about eight to pick you up.”
“Why don’t I just go to work with you?”
“Sure. You can give me the grand tour of FBI headquarters, introduce me to your co-workers—let me interrogate someone.” She wiggled an eyebrow.
He inhaled. At least she was in a better mood. “Why not?”
“You’ll let me interrogate someone?”
“No. But you can come with me.”
Do you see how Ninevah strives to lighten the mood with all the tension in the room?
Now, why don't you share? Pick a short scene with tension AND a bit of "fun" to share. I look forward to reading them!