Take our 1-minute quiz to find out. 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 we'll discuss in the next section. Short-term suspense cases usually involve 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. Just as Scheherazade cut her stories so that the sultan would let her live, suspensions interrupt your story at critical moments, when all the reader wants to know is what will happen next.
Mystery suspense is the most traditional form of suspense, which is often used in thrillers and, of course, 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. Do you want to read more Agatha Christie books? We've got you covered.
Here are 10 of Christie's greatest mysteries. Or if horror is your thing, here are the best horror books of all time. 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 the mysterious and horrible suspense can't be combined. A novel can contain elements of both, especially if it's a murder mystery. And Then There Were None, for example, perfectly interweaves a mysterious and horrifying suspense throughout its arc, making the reader wonder “who isn't? (mystery) and “when will they do it again? (horrible). Stephen King's Misery is filled with dreadful suspense, but perhaps none more horrifying than the infamous “limping” scene.
At this point in the book, the reader fully understands that his villain, Annie Wilkes, is dangerously unstable, which contributes to his growing dread. Putting your characters in a dangerous situation is the ultimate recipe for sudden suspense (remember Stephen King's method in Misery). 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. Join a community of more than 1 million authors.
Carefully crafted suspense is what makes some suspensions effective, while others leave the audience yawning and searching for the next thing. With narrative suspense, tension increases throughout the story, bringing the reader ever closer to a surprise that should well be worth the agony of waiting, wondering and worrying from one chapter to another. The purpose of narrative suspense is to keep the reader engaged from the beginning of the story in every twist and to reward the reader's sustained attention with a satisfying reward at the end. This subtype of short-term suspense deserves a category of its own.
Fiction authors often use suspensions at the end of each chapter to encourage the reader to go directly to the next chapter. Even non-fiction authors use suspensions at the end of chapters to make their books harder to put down. While investigating a murder in l'Ouvre, Robert Langdon uncovers a religious mystery hidden by a secret society for two thousand years. Putting the main character in some kind of danger is a sure way to keep the reader in a state of agitation and suspense until the danger has passed.
Punctuate your story with short-term suspense to maintain the reader's interest. Or create tension and conflict with thrilling suspensives or mind-blowing mysteries. With more than 300,000 subscribers and 4 million readers, Smart Blogger is one of the world's largest websites dedicated to writing and blogging. Every novel needs conflict, and it's also incredibly important for creating suspense.
Whether your story is about solving a murder or about 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.
Create more suspense at a fast pace, such as setting 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. In his novel Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs creates suspense through different verbal cues. Tarzan falls in love with a girl named Jane, who is carried away by a brutal gorilla.
Jane then asks, “How can anyone defeat such a powerful antagonist? It's a rather surprising question, informing readers that the gorilla is a very strong and powerful opponent, and that Jane thinks that Tarzan has very little chance of overcoming him. This situation creates suspense in Tarzan's life and pushes readers to continue reading the story to discover what Tarzan and Jane will face in their lives. Now that you're more familiar with the types of suspense you can use as an author, let's look at some well-known examples. The purpose of using this type of anxiety in literature is to make readers more concerned with the characters and to form a comprehensive partnership with them.