Writing 101: How to Create Suspense in 5 Exciting Steps

what is suspense

In your own work, you’ll want to provide both surprise and suspense for your reader. But use the surprises sparingly, as too many will dilute their effect. This provides a quick fizzle of shock, but it sputters out quickly. You can be sure George immediately layered in some suspense to keep her readers engaged. This opening creates some compelling curiosity and the beginnings of suspense, but we’ll need more information before we can anticipate any meaningful outcome.

Find out what suspense is and how to use it in your writing. The aforementioned She Who Became the Sun does this wonderfully. At first, peasant Zhu Chongba has little to lose if her concealed identity is uncovered.


The above segment is shortly before the wealthy owner of the manor Hastings is staying at is poisoned, leading Hastings to seek Poirot’s investigative eye. Sometimes suspense is as light as a cloud of hovering suspicion. You are a fingerprint.When you open your eyes on the last day of your life, you see your own thumb. In the jaundiced prison light, the lines on the pad of your thumb look like a dried-out riverbed, like sand washed into twirling patterns by water, once there and now gone. Deep POV brings us closer to characters, even when the person of narration is limited third rather than first person (he/she/they instead of I), or even in the more uncommon second person.

What ensues is one of the most suspenseful opening scenes in recent cinema. In the above-said example, this account will be treated as a liability account because it has a credit balance. It https://www.bookstime.com/ may be treated as an asset account or a liability account. When it has a debit balance then it is treated as an asset account and when credit balance then is treated as a liability account.

Watch: How Fincher, Carpenter, & Refn Direct Suspense

Readers like strong characters, but also appreciate a hero that has flaws. Learn how character development, and how to make your reader invest in your protagonist in this article. Grounding your reader deep in your protagonist’s POV will do a world of good for the rising action in your story, building stakes and smaller conflict as they spiral into an intense, climatic moment. Silence of the Lambs is a great example of this, where as Clarice Starling grew closer to discovering the whereabouts and identity of Buffalo Bill, Hannibal Lector’s masterful escape plan spiked. In this article and the ones to follow in the series, I will teach you the key elements of suspense.

  • By this point in the book, the reader fully understands that its villain, Annie Wilkes, is dangerously unstable, which contributes to their mounting dread.
  • For example, if you’re a fan of the TV show NCIS, you’re well acquainted with Gibbs’s crack team of crime solvers.
  • Rick has just woken up from a coma in a deserted hospital.
  • Keep reading for examples of suspenseful story openings and descriptions.
  • Read suspense writing examples, learn suspense-adding story devices you can use, and what experts at creating suspense say.
  • We offer editing, we run courses, we offer some great mentoring, and we host some awesome events.

To engage our ears, as well as our eyes, will give your scene a depth and a richness that all the best suspense movies achieve. This is how you delay a simple series of events for maximum impact. We know that someone or something is going to appear in that doorway. Eventually, on the third time we cut back to this shot, our expectations are paid off. In this scene, Rachel is watching a video of Samara in the hospital.

Romantic/Comedic Suspense

In mystery, audiences are often given a limited amount of information. This limited perspective allows them to intellectually dissect what has already happened. That’s the key, the timing of the event here is in the past. The differences between mystery and shock lie in information and perspective. Consider this chart that breaks down these different genres and how the same elements are used differently. My interview-based research for Rethinking Thought revealed how greatly readers vary in their responses to stories.

However, there are a few fundamental elements of suspense. Let’s take a look at these elements that create that feeling of anxious anticipation. In some time, An data entry operator did not understand the actual business transaction, in that case, he will open a suspense account and record this transaction into it. The benefit in the recording in the suspense account is that when an accountant finalizes the books of account first all he will clear the all pending transaction in the suspense account. The suspense a/c is that account in which we have to record all those business transactions which have incomplete information.

Are Song Lyrics Considered Literature?

As a fiction writer, I know that the joy of creation lies in making something happen in readers, without knowing for sure what that something will be. Du Maurier may have wanted to write a novel no one could stop reading, but probably, she would have been pleased if none of her readers imagined wet Manderley the same way. For example, in “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, the author suspense account withholds information about the protagonist’s motivations and actions, creating suspense as the reader tries to piece together what happened. Character-based suspense is created by the audience’s investment in a character’s outcome, such as a protagonist’s personal struggle or moral dilemma. Dramatic suspense is the most common type and is used in action and adventure stories.

  • In Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, flashbacks are used to reveal the backstory of Mia Wright, including the shocking secret she’s been hiding from her daughter.
  • The following categories of suspense depend on the genre and style of your book; though they can be combined, you don’t necessarily need all of them.
  • The members of that structure serve important functions and provide points of interest for the reader.
  • For example, say you receive a partial payment of $100 from a customer.
  • Profage is built upon the knowledge that both Literature and Philosophy are needed to live and lead life respectively.

For more explanation please find the topic of Error Rectification. For example, say you receive a partial payment of $100 from a customer. You would open a suspense account and add the $100 as a credit, and then debit your Cash account for the same amount (this ensures everything is in balance, as per the accounting equation). Once you receive the full payment from the customer, you’re going to debit the suspense account for $100, then credit your Accounts Receivable for the same amount. The suspense account has now been closed out and the payment is in its proper place. In a suspense sequence like this, the composer is not the star of the show but they are part of the team.

You’ve got it! Just us where to send your book.

You need to draw your readers deeply into the story world and make sure they care about what happens to your protagonist. In my book, I followed this up immediately with literal suspense, as the SUV hung over the edge of pavement destroyed by volcanic flow. I laid out some possible outcomes for my readers and let them predict what would happen, replacing surprise with suspense. Curiosity generates questions, but without the accompanying pieces of information that allow a reader to predict and anticipate, it doesn’t rise to the level of suspense. The big, overarching question won’t get answered until the climactic scene, but intermediate questions carry the story along on a wave of curiosity. For example, in a mystery, you’ll need to generate suspicion and provide clues so the reader can solve the crime along with your main character and anticipate the outcome.

what is suspense

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