Tension and Conflict are arguably the most critical elements for maintaining reader interest in a fantasy story. Sadly, this appears to be my biggest weakness as a writer. For my book's first hundred pages or so the conflict never becomes dire and always seems remote. Well, that's because it is remote. I tell the story using close 3rd, which means I can't show what's happening if the character is not there to see it.
My epic fantasy basically follows this model:
1. Life changing event happens for a character
2. The character must journey to the place where the action is
3. The character arrives and the action really starts
My weakness is in number 2, the journey to where the action begins. Now, writers have always used little plot events to make journeys more entertaining. Tolkien threw in black riders to give real menace to the journey of Frodo and company, and he added in all kinds of waypoints such as Tom Bombadil. My problem is that I absolutely loathe contrived action. I don't like throwing in a band of robbers along the road or other such things, unless it can feel like an authentic part of the story. Also, a band of robbers is just a tiny event along the way and doesn't lend itself to maintaining tension. Black riders who continue to hound you all along your journey do keep this tension, but it's already been done before. For the life of me I can't come up with a similar plot device to maintain tension throughout the journeys of each of my POV characters. I do have little events that happen to them, but as I explained above, they don't maintain tension if they don't follow the characters along their road.
I suppose this is just a weakness I'll have to spend a lot of time working on. My action really takes off once the characters arrive at their destinations, but that does no good if the readers don't read that far. How do you deal with this issue?
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