Undercurrents can be mighty dangerous things. Whether in ocean or river, if you’re not paying attention as you swim or paddle you can suddenly find yourself captured by a swirling vortex of unpredictable water. You flip and dip in the turbulence like an autumn leaf often ending up overturned, sucked under the surface or slammed sideways into rocks. Those benign-looking ripples can be terrifying and life-threatening.


There are other kinds of undercurrents, too –  inconspicuous in intimate conversations or public debates and any number of assorted situations in between, just waiting to rupture the status quo and erupt into violence .

Do you deliberately make use of subtlety, hidden agendas, and innuendo in your stories? What other not-so-obvious methods do you employ to ramp up the conflict and/or suspense?


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

4 thoughts on “Undercurrents

  1. Carol – You must have a web cam hooked up spyin’ on me! High winds from NE – 5′ caps & 10 foot waves down here right now – Killer rip current. Tough standing up after a face plant. My shoulders are aching ’cause the water’s so wicked. I’ll take pics. Even in the dark last night – ocean was white – Geez, wish I had a kayak.

    Ahem – To writing. Guess you could say my stories lack subtlety – maybe because of my audience & maybe ’cause I’m not so subtle myself. I do like twists, surprises, humor, history & wow stuff – so I incorporate lots of that. I like big wild craziness & if I can freak myself out – I figure it’ll freak the kids & make ’em laugh. Maybe I need to grow up. Hah!


    1. I guess now I know why you write kids’ stories so well, Dave! 😉 Some themes just don’t lend themselves well to subtlety. It sounds like you’re getting some pretty wild weather. I’d lend you our kayak if there was a way of teleporting it to you although it’s not a whitewater one. Am counting on some great pictures!

  2. I think I lean to explaining too much. I read, I think it was Rachelle Gardner, that we need to write in ways not to look smart but to make our readers feel smarter. I need to remember that when I revise and take out some obvious sentences.

    It is not what is said, but what is unsaid.

    1. That’s such a good point, Tricia… readers don’t like to be handed the details that they can figure out for themselves but the temptation is to spread them all out as if to say, “See, this is how I planned it to happen. Aren’t I a brilliant storyteller?” (lol)

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