5 Methods to Create Suspense in Your Novel

Learn how to create suspense in your novel with these 5 methods: setting deadlines, false clues, mood & tone, multiple narrative arcs & sudden danger.

5 Methods to Create Suspense in Your Novel

Every novel needs conflict to create suspense, and it's essential for keeping readers engaged. Whether your story is about solving a murder or a protagonist trying to save the human population from extinction, this conflict will be at the center of what will make your reader anxious to know what's going on. You can also have smaller conflicts that build on your main conflict to create even more suspense surrounding your plot. The rhythm of the novel is another important component in creating suspense.

If your plot develops too slowly or you spend too much time on small details that don't increase conflict, readers will stop feeling the need to keep moving on, reducing the sense of suspense in your story. To create more suspense at a fast pace, set a deadline for your conflict or a short time limit for resolving the problem. False clues are clues in your story that mislead readers. They are extremely important in suspense because they make your readers follow the wrong paths and prevent them from solving the mystery before the end.

The mood and tone of your novel are factors that will affect the way readers feel when they read your book. The place where your story takes place and the atmosphere it brings to the overall plot will help create suspense in your novel. For example, placing your story in a dark, abandoned building will make readers feel more nervous than in a busy theme park on a sunny day. Having more than one narrative suspense arc keeps the reader interested and gives the story additional layers of depth.

You can also achieve these goals through short-term suspense, which involves an argument or confrontation between characters that is resolved quickly, although it may resurface later on. For example, the initial outburst of tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, in the first dance of Pride and Prejudice, lays the foundation for their ongoing and controversial relationship. One of the best applications of short-term suspense is to create chapter endings or suspended scenes that leave the reader desperately in suspense.

Mystery suspense is the most traditional form of suspense, which is often used in thrillers and mystery novels. Although all suspense involves mystery in one way or another, mysterious suspense differs in that something is deliberately hidden from the reader. They know that they don't have the whole truth, and that keeps them alert. Frightening suspense is when the reader knows that something terrible is going to happen, but its precise nature remains unclear, such as waiting for him to get scared in a movie.

As expected, it's more common in horror and sometimes thriller novels. That's not to say that mysterious and horrible suspense can't be combined - a novel can contain elements of both, especially if it's a murder mystery. Putting your characters in a dangerous situation is the ultimate recipe for sudden suspense. It's especially useful when you're approaching the high point of your mysterious suspense arc and need to intensify it with dreadful suspense in the short term.

By using these five methods - setting deadlines, false clues, mood and tone, multiple narrative arcs and sudden danger - you can create an engaging story with plenty of suspense that will keep readers hooked until the very end.

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