We want to make our books impossible to put down and to do so, we need to keep our readers turning the pages, dying to know what’s going to happen next. And nothing does that better than characters in trouble with no end in sight.
Just as a story thrives on conflict, it also thrives on the tension created by that conflict. Tension creates a sense of unknown and leaves the readers wondering what is going to happen next. It is vital to keeping the story alive in the reader’s mind, and to do so, there must be some form of tension in every scene, preferably every page. Even if the tension isn't resolved in the current scene, it can set the stage for future events and keep the reader turning the pages.
Stories thrive on the conflict between the protagonist, the world, and the people in it. It’s what it’s all about, and you can’t have a story without it, or there would be nothing to hold the story together and give it purpose or to entertain our readers.
A story can fall flat when your story does not have the momentum to push the reader forward page by page. A strong narrative drive directs everything in your story toward one point and keeps the plot from wandering and focused in the direction it needs to go. We grab the reader’s attention by presenting the protagonist with heavy consequences for failure to reach their goals. Each action builds upon the last until we finally reach the end. Cause and effect. Plain and simple. Anything that doesn’t fit into this cause-and-effect relationship doesn’t belong in the story, unless it is part of a parallel plot or subplot.
Writing a series is a long and difficult process. There are so many things we must keep straight between each book it can be easy to get lost or frustrated. But tackling the three major problems you will run into will make the process easier.
Creating a character arc can seem like more work than is needed. But if your readers can't relate to your protagonist's struggles, they won't care about the story, and it will seem boring to them.