Historical Fiction: Understanding The Dramatic Tension Of The Scene
Every story needs dramatic tension — a sense of mystery — to create What Happens Next. This is what makes the reader want to turn the page. Understanding the difference between inner dramatic tension, which is character-driven, and outer dramatic tension, which is plot-driven, will help you immensely in deepening the plot of your scene.
The outer dramatic tension in this scene is clear: Two soldiers in World War II. Are they on a mission? Separated from their unit? Who is the enemy? Questions such as these are important, however, perhaps more important is what's going on inside the soldiers. The way to uncover this is to see which soldier you're drawn to and get inside his mind, body, and feelings. Knowing this affects the dialogue.
Perhaps the soldier who is crouched and looking uncertain draws you. What's going on for him? Is this the first time he's been in battle? Is he terrified? If so, is he ashamed of his fears? Is he frozen with fear?
What if he isn't frightened but on guard? Something dangerous has caught his eye. It's up to him to make the next move and save himself and his buddy.