I have been struggling with some critical scenes in my third novel, The Savagery of Set. Though tension in a mystery novel is a good thing, can there be too much?
As a novelist, I know that our characters must face danger, unusual situations, and more drama than occurs in most lifetimes. And, our characters must endure or perish. I have grown attached to my characters, like old friends. I feel comfortable with them, and they with me. Which is why they share their stories, so I may be their storyteller.
But, that doesn't make me feel any better when I place them in jeopardy. My protagonist lies unconscious, and in ancient Egypt, the prognosis is not good. Most individuals with head trauma would die, though mummies have been found who had their skulls chiseled into and survived. Fortunate for me, as the writer, since historically, my protagonist can survive.
The challenge of writing a novel, keeping up the action, and keeping it historically plausible is daunting, but it also gives the novelist a chance to experiment, push the envelope, and keep the readers' coming back for more. And, as this novel is the third in a series, I would hope they will keep coming back.
So, when faced with a difficult situation, always look for plausibility. Your reader will accept a lot, but will not accept the impossible. Make them cheer for the protagonist, make them worry about him, but never make them disbelieve in him, or you.