Friday, November 04, 2011

Fiction Friday: Suspense

Every novel must have suspense whether it would be billed as a thriller or a mystery or a love story or a friendship novel. You've got to have an element that keeps your reader guessing, "What's going to happen next?"

I've been reading Noah Lukeman's The Plot Thickens and especially liked his chapter on creating suspense and how to do it. He outlines 12 ways that I can't tell you because I doubt he'd like me giving that info away. He'd probably prefer you to get the book. If you're a fiction writer, I'd say it's worth the purchase if for nothing than to read through his chapters on suspense and conflict.

But I did want to share his definition of what suspense is because I thought it was a good explanation:

Suspense, ultimately, is about anticipation. It is about what we do not
have, what has not happened. It is about the process of
watching events unfold. Once the victim is murdered, the woman wooed, the
suspense disappears. But while the victim is stalked, the girl courted, suspense
looms. Suspense, simply, is about creating and prolonging anticipation.

If you're writing fiction, how can you add suspense to the page? How can you prolong something for your characters-- and hence, your reader-- thereby building suspense? Add that element, and you will keep readers turning the pages all the way to the end.

My favorite reader letter to get isn't the one from the person who tells me they bought the book... but that they finished it. That is when I know I did my job.
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BethA said...

I know you know how to create suspense -- I recently read The Mailbox and She Makes It Look Easy. They were wonderful! I had a hard time putting them down. So for anyone wanting to write fiction, they can take a page from your book, so to speak! Love your blog and love your books!

Heather said...

Hmmmmm, this is a good point! I need to get that book. Thanks!

Five Bees in the Triangle said...

I read the Mailbox and She Makes It Look Easy and I eagerly turned the pages in both. :-) By that I mean you did well with creating suspense for the reader. Thanks for sharing the quote about suspense from Noah Lukeman. As an aspiring writer I often feel challenged to work harder and do better after reading his books.