Saferoom – Level 5

… You step through the gateway, this time you find yourself on stone steps of a cottage.

It’s very cold.

The wind is howling with snow biting at your face.

You pound on the door.


You can see the smoking rising above the edge of the cottage from the chimney,

And there’s a glow of warm light coming from the curtained window.

You pound on the door.

“HEY ARE YOU THERE?” You shout


You start to look around, there’s no time for hesitation, if you don’t get warm, you’re going to have some problems.

You step off the stone steps …

When suddenly,

The door cracks open

“Are you coming in or not?” I opine

You look at me,

And … am I grinning?

With a slight glare you rush up the steps and barge inside.

Quickly go sit by the fireplace, I hand you a warm drink.

“Isn’t that all, a bit obvious?” you say

I chuckle.

“Sure is.


Right there in front of you.”

Your eyes narrow,

“And … you had to leave me outside for a moment just to make the point doubly so.”

I nod with a stupid grin on my face, before continuing.

“Tension is one of those literary tools that I am surprised to find is rarely talked about in copywriting.

You can find it here and there.

I learned of it from Andre Chaperon.

But what I’ve figured out on my own is what makes Tension so effective.”

I sit down.

Lean back.

And wait.

You wait.

You look at me with raised eyebrows.

Finally you say

“Ok then. What makes it so effective?” In exasperation


I’ve got that stupid grin on my face.

“It doesn’t matter if you know that the Tension is going to be resolved, you’ll still be pulled through it.

Sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if you know HOW the Tension is going to be resolved.

We humans are very interesting creatures.

We just LOVE the feeling of Tension being resolved. So much that we’ll relive Tension we’re familiar with in order to have that experience.”

You roll your eyes and scoff.

“That’s nonsense. If I know what’s going to happen why would I read more?”

I nod,

“Common response.

Tell me, have you ever watched a TV show or a movie again that you have already seen? One where you know exactly what is going to happen?

And have you ever read a book where the outcome was obvious but read it anyway?


A mysterious Tension is compelling, indeed.

But the reason Tension is effective is NOT because of the unknown.

It’s because we’re hard wired in our Human Mindset to want to resolve Tension, no matter what it looks like.”

I watch you contemplating this,

As you come to the next step – “ok then, how do you apply this as a copywriter?”

I sit down, roll up my sleeves and lean in.

“There are many layers to look at Tension.

Think of it like the bands holding that platform in the last level. Blunt illustration perhaps, but useful.

Tension occurs when there’s a place to which you want to go, or where you are likely to go. You see yourself where you are, you see yourself where you want to go or where you’ll end up, and that difference creates Tension.

On a micro level, everytime you communicate with someone, if you are taking them from one place to another, you can consider that and actively build in literary Tension.

Especially since we’re talking copy, pretty much every time, you are taking someone from one view to another.

One understanding to another.

Problem to solution.

Desire to outcome.


In email this is actually pretty simple.

Every time you send an email, it’s likely you are presenting a new idea, understanding, perspective, product, whatever. Someone is opening that email looking for … new insight, to be delighted, to smile, to find something new, to find something to click on, etc.

There’s a conclusion they are wanting to come to.

The simplest way to build in the Tension, is suggest at the beginning there’s the answer they are looking for …

And then,

Don’t give it to them.


That’s on the micro level.

On the Macro level, you can look at the whole arch of your marketing plans. You can look at this on the email series level, the lead gen to purchase level, the new prospect to raving fan level … whatever the level you view this on you can always see a start point, and an end point, and as long as the person desires to move from one to the other, there’s Tension.

So you can leverage that.

This is most easily done by just reminding them of the outcome they can be having, and then taking them on the next step.

It can be done by suggesting an answer they are searching for, and then not giving it to them.

As soon as you resolve Tension — they will be done.

That’s the main dynamic you must consider at all times.

As soon as you resolve Tension … they are done.”

I watch you lean back and consider what I’ve said.

It seems to dawn on you …

“Ohh. This entire simulation, these levels … that’s Tension. I have to see what happens each level. I have to see how I’ll get through the levels. I have to see what’s going to come of things at the end of all the levels.

Even though I know I’m not going to die here, I still want to find the answer.”

I nod as I walk over to a corner of the room and pick something up.


I say, handing you a small object – it fits in the palm of your hand.

You look at it closely,

It appears to be a tiny replica of a Ballista.

“What is this?” you ask

“You’ll need this before the end. It’s for the game. Just take it, and it will go into your inventory. It’s the literal power of Tension.


You’re ready to continue.”

Head on back to your email and to the next level.