Creating Suspense––Part III

creating-suspenseI’m a story guzzler. I love historical, but I also love suspense, mysteries, and at times, thrillers. But not so much sci-fi or fantasy. We’re looking at suspense, and how to create it. Did you know there are different strands to suspense? Different strands of suspense work together to support the whole. Click to Tweet #amwriting #creatingsuspense

Macro Suspense

Formulate a “macro” sentence that sums up the stakes for your lead character throughout your story. Having a powerful premise and a sentence to sum up that premise will keep readers turning pages.


Will Scarlett O’Hara survive the Civil War, save her home, and find true love? (Gone With the Wind).

Will Prince Albert be able to overcome his stutter in time to rally his people against Nazi?” (The King’s Speech).

Once you’ve formulated your suspense sentence, keep it handy to remind you.

gwtw-burning-atlantaScene Suspense

Every scene should have suspense––and can, if you do it right. Build upon the character’s fears and worries. Something should remain unresolved in every scene––the outcome. That helps to create suspense. The character enters the scene and encounters obstacles––so much so that we wonder how they’ll get out of it. Will the outcome be successful or unsuccessful?


Back to Gone With the Wind –– and the burning of Atlanta. Will Scarlett make it out of town safely? After all, Melanie is very pregnant, and can’t run. Will they get out before someone steals their horse? Will parts of burning buildings fall on her? If so, will she be killed? Or severely injured?

Scarlett’s world is falling apart. How will she cope? Is she strong enough to survive and help the weaker members of her family?

Next time, we’ll look at Hypersuspense and Paragraph Suspense. These use POV and withholding information in each and every paragraph.

No matter the genre, suspense can help create a page turner. Click to Tweet #amwriting #creatingsuspense

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