A few hours ago, I was reading an old issue of Writer's Digest featuring a whole bunch about writing for kids. On technique pages, Elaine Marie Alphin said that children want tension when they read and continued with "To achieve this tension in your writing, make things difficult for your character."
Tension. That I know a lot about.
As a kid, I was small for my age, thin, shy and a loner. I had few friends but they were 3 to 4 years younger so I couldn't be with them during school days.
Every school has its own bullies and I was one of the targets. I wasn't actually pushed around physically but the verbal assaults were just as painful, even more so because remembering brings pain. This tension continued even as I entered high school, only the assailant is not the same person and a lot bigger, taller. I hated him. Many times I escaped from his bullying for I always see him first and I was in constant lookout. But one day, he saw me first. Escaping was out of the question. Worse, he was with three other boys and they were looking at me, laughing and talking most probably about me. I was angry. I was about to be humiliated again, in front of the boys he was with. Then it happened. I attacked him first, verbally, that is. I just blurted it out. I said "Why don't you look at yourself in the mirror first? You are uglier than I am!"
That silenced them, no, stunned them. But I was trembling hard. I must have looked like a ghost, I don't know but it sure felt good to stand up for myself. The good part is, I was never bullied again.
Well, was that tense enough for you? For me, it was. But I survived.