Creating suspense in a story is an art form. It requires a delicate balance of tension, anticipation, and surprise. It's a skill that can be learned and honed with practice. Here are four proven ways to maintain suspense in your story:Foreshadowing.
This is the bread and butter of suspense. By introducing hints of what is to come, you can create a sense of anticipation and dread in your readers. For example, in my thriller The Knight, I used foreshadowing to hint at the 10 horrific crimes that the murderer was recreating from a 13th century manuscript. This created a sense of dread and anticipation as my investigator tried to stop the killer before the final crime.
Introducing Unnamed or Underdeveloped Characters.
To create suspense, all you have to do is introduce unnamed or underdeveloped characters into a tense or dangerous situation. Then, the “red shirts” die, mutate, or lose a limb and, all of a sudden, the reader is really worried about what will happen to the character he loves.
Flashbacks. Flashbacks can be used to create suspense by providing clues about what is to come. However, they must mean something in the story and should not be used as a distraction.
They should be read as vividly and intriguingly as the current narrative.
Chekhov Weapons. A few cleverly placed Chekhov weapons are a very effective way for writers to create suspense when writing. These are objects that are introduced early on in the story but have no immediate purpose. As the story progresses, they become important plot points that create tension and suspense. Creating suspense is really about evoking an emotion in the reader, an emotion similar to happiness, pain or anger.
By using these four techniques, you can craft stories that keep your readers on the edge of their seats.