Every story has a basic storyline and the suspense technique can be applied to all kinds of stories. Suspense involves writing in a way that stimulates your readers’ expectations. It is used to control when and how you reveal certain information.
You can build suspense in two ways: giving the reader too much information or withholding information.
If you are revealing more to the reader than the hero knows, you generate interest. You can call this a dramatic irony. When your hero is expecting someone or something and the reader knows that it will never come or happen, your readers’ anxiety and expectation are heightened.
In the same light, withholding information or revealing only a fragment of what the hero knows would sustain your readers’ interest and causes your readers to seek more details.
Use the following tips to build suspense in your story and hold your readers’ interest.
- Introduce a hidden identity.
An excellent tool for creating suspense is introducing a hidden personality, more like a puppet master controlling events from behind. This secret identity is never known, and when you think you’re close to finding him. You lose him again.
- Present a question in each chapter.
As a storyteller, you should be able to present your readers with a question for each chapter. Every question creates room for suspense in the minds of the reader. ‘How will they make it out of the tunnel?’ ‘Who gave the execution order?’ These are suspense-filled questions that builds suspense into your story.
- Use cliffhangers.
A cliffhanger leaves a question for the reader at the end of a section of the story. The perfect cliffhanger alters an expected ending to introduce an action event that stops halfway. Leave your reader anticipating another chapter or season of your story by introducing cliffhangers.
- Constrict a story’s duration.
Put your characters under pressure by compressing the story’s duration. If it should take about a month for a story to happen, constrict it to 2 weeks. Doing this will bring an immense feeling of tension to your characters, thereby creating suspense in your story.
- Introduce complicated pasts/histories in bits.
Introducing a complicated history in bits will keep the reader unsure about the characters’ past and its effect on the current events in their lives. Withholding information from the past will leave the reader asking questions, especially when the character constantly tries to avoid discussing events that may lead to his past.
Suspense is a unique tool for holding your readers’ attention in any story. By withholding information or giving your readers more information than the hero knows, you build suspense that piques their curiosity. No matter the type of story you’re telling, develop your character around the suspense you’re creating.
Use some of these tips to build suspense in your story. Also, if you want to write adept suspense stories, you can always contact us anytime!