Creating Suspense––Part I

cary-grant-nnwI’m not a suspense writer, but I love to read it. A few years ago, I wrote Zorro stories on FanFiction, and I learned a little bit about creating suspense, just by doing it. In this new series, we’ll talk about what suspense is, and how to use it for whatever genre you write. Suspense asks the question “what will happen next?” Click to Tweet #amwriting #creatingsuspense

Think of movies classics, such as any Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller. In “North by Northwest,” Cary Grant’s character is mistaken for someone else. He spends the entire movie trying to figure out how to either get away from the crooks and sometimes the police, while trying to figure out who George Kaplin is, the man he was mistaken for. Will he figure out what’s going on? That’s what keeps us watching. If it were a book, that’s what would keep us turning the pages.

suspenseSo, our first question is, “What will happen next?” The story should begin with a larger question, and in “North by Northwest,” the larger question is: Who is George Kaplin and what’s he up to? Because Cary Grant’s character, Roger Thornhill won’t get any peace in his life until he finds out.

New questions will surface along the way that also must be answered, but they should all relate to the “macro” question, according to James Scott Bell, in his book Conflict & Suspense.

Suspense is withholding resolution until the last possible moment. It’s a postponement. In your story, the predominant delay will create insecurity, doubt, and confusion. These emotions are strong and when experienced by the reader, will keep them turning the pages to answer that question of “What will happen next?”

In this series, we’ll address all the avenues and techniques of creating suspense. We’ll look at cliffhangers, dialogue, different types of suspense, and how to create it to enrich your story and make it a page-turner.

The first thing I tried in writing my Zorro stories, and in my novel “Meghan’s Choice,” was to change viewpoint characters to build toward a climax. But there’s so much more, and we’ll be looking at it, learning from the best. The word “suspense” is from the French language, and literally means “cause to hang.” Click to Tweet #amwriting #creatingsuspense

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Mickey Mindset

Celebrating the Art of Disney Storytelling

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.

For a purpose

The blog site of Rick Wade


Where it is a good thing to be an outcast.


We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; let your light shine through your cracked pot. Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in and comes out.

loon watchman

stark raving sane.

Kelly F Barr

"A story without love is empty." -- Kelly F. Barr

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

Vonj Production

Bringing you love through spirit!

A christian dad blog

Just a dad following God's path


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


easy reading is damn hard writing

Funny Dog Moments

Funny Tales of Cinnamon the Cute Guard Dog

Life Through the Big Screen

A podcast where I invite guests from all walks of life to discuss their favorite movies, and we use that film as a starting point to talk about deeper issues such as faith, politics, and social issues.

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

%d bloggers like this: