Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Physics of a Great Story

In the world of Physics, there are two concepts that I absolutely love: Tension and Torsion.

According to

Tension: mental or emotional strain; intense, suppressed suspense, anxiety, or excitement.

Torsion: the act of twisting.

That said, the application of these concepts to writing are stunning. Too many times a plot is either predictable (I’m looking at you, Hollywood RomComs!) or lacks enough punch to make a reader/viewer really care about the outcome. Nothing is worse that getting to the end of a book or movie and going, “meh.”

Enter Physics.

Tension: You know there is something dark/embarrassing/alien in the MC’s past, but the author won’t just come out and tell you, dangit! Instead, he/she drops hints along the way, enticing and teasing you with snippets that reveal iotas of data when you hunger for the whole thing. Or perhaps the MC and romantic interest dance around one another, wanting to say how they feel, but never coming out with a “hey, you know I love you, right?” Cause, come on, where’s the fun in that? Thanks to tension, the plot becomes tighter, more engrossing, and the stakes keep rising.

And you don’t want to put the book down.   

Then there’s the torsion. You’re plugging away happily within the plot, enjoying the rising tension and then BOOM! The author drops a bomb on you with no warning. The police station is attacked, the romantic interest is the murderer, the Dread Pirate Roberts is Wesley, etc. Torsion within a story catches you off guard and makes you wonder what else the author has in store.

And you don’t want to put the book down.   

There are certainly many other Physics concepts that you can apply to writing (Force, Velocity, Entropy, etc), but the Two T’s may be the most powerful and effective ones out there.*

*You were right, Professor: I WOULD use my knowledge of Physics in the real


  1. Okay, apparently Blogger is having issues. I couldn't corrct the white background issue, so apologies to anyone who suffers eye-strain from it.

    Freakin' technology.

  2. Or perhaps... the Dread Pirate Roberts heard you talkin' about him!