18.11: Turning Up the Contrast With Juxtaposition

Our deconstruction and categorization of tension continues this week with an exploration of Juxtaposition, which is a contrast between two elements that supplies tension by allowing the reader to insert themselves.

Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Try to add tension to a scene in your work-in-progress by inverting or juxtaposing elements.

When Franny Stands Up, by Eden Robins —MRK

3 thoughts on “18.11: Turning Up the Contrast With Juxtaposition”

  1. This week, Mary Robinette, DongWon, Erin, Dan, and Howard had some good news and some bad news. The good news? Juxtaposition can add tension! The bad news? You have to set up the contrast. Defrosting freezers. The 1812 overture. Bricks don’t hover. Singing toilets! Ain’t that a kick in the head? Layer cakes and flashbacks. Plenty of great examples and discussion that you can read about in the transcript available in the archives.

  2. Great episode :). There’s an awesome example of this in Babylon 5’s episode “The Rock Cried Out”: one half of the scene is the main cast singing a joyous gospel choir song about sinners running away from judgement, while the other half is a totally justified lynch mob chasing a genocidal villain. The tension from juxtaposing scenes of a happy, expressive song, and the exact same lyrics being echoed and subverted into showing someone being chased and killed for their crimes is darkly apt, and really brings the internal tension into focus.

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