Creating Tension and Suspense

How to keep readers on the edge of their seats

woman experiencing tension and suspense in movie

Creating tension in a story—otherwise known as suspense—is a crucial element if you want to keep readers engaged and on the edge of their seats. It’s the art of building anticipation, uncertainty, and unease in the reader’s mind, making them eager to find out what happens next and keep turning pages. Some ways to incorporate suspense in your story include:

1. Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a technique in which the author gives the reader subtle hints or clues about future events in the story. This can create a sense of unease and anticipation, making the reader wonder what happens next.

2. Uncertainty

Introducing elements of doubt or confusion creates uncertainty by keeping the reader guessing about what might happen next.

3. Cliffhangers

A cliffhanger ends chapters or scenes on a dramatic note or at the beginning of a new conflict. Cliffhangers include ending chapters or scenes mid-conflict. These are classic ways to build tension and suspense, leaving the reader wanting more.

4. A sense of danger

Introducing a menacing character, dangerous situation, or ticking clock, also introduces the threat of danger. This builds tension and unease.

5. Use descriptive language

Using vivid imagery and descriptive language can help the reader feel like they are experiencing the conflict firsthand.

6. Vary the pace

Alternating fast-paced action scenes and slower, more contemplative ones can help keep the reader on the edge of their seats.

Tension and suspense: conclusion

Suspense is crucial for keeping readers engaged and making them want to read on and turn to the next page. By amping up the tension and suspense with each new chapter, your reader is sure to peruse your book from cover to cover and keep coming back for more.

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  1. Pingback: The Art of Storytelling - EMSA Publishing

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