This is how writers can create suspense in any type of story: Let readers see all sides of the story. Present the question, promise the answer. End each chapter with a Cliffhanger. For example, in The Sixth Sense, the dramatic question is: “Can Bruce Willis help Haley Joel Osment with her madness? The answer is, of course, (spoiler alert if you've somehow not seen this movie in the last thirteen years and you still want to be surprised) no, but Haley can help.
Of course, as soon as we know the truth that Bruce is really dead, we see the clues, the omens, throughout the story. Editing Services Story Grid Certified Edition 100-day book The Write Practice Pro Fundamentals of publishing The best-selling training Enter your email for our free 10-step guide to becoming a writer. Enter your name and email to get our free book, 14 Prompts. Even after 17 spy thrillers, I consider myself an apprentice in the suspense writing game.
Consequently, I have reviewed my writing notes over the past quarter of a century and the books and articles I have read on storytelling, in order to compile a comprehensive list of ways to create suspense. You can create suspense around anything that arouses readers' curiosity, whether it's a love triangle or a murderer on the loose. The authors of crime thrillers know that the right kind of suspense is what best turns pages and arouses the reader's interest. One of the best applications of short-term suspense is to create ending scenes or episodes that leave the reader desperately in suspense.
The reader's hope that the hero will succeed and the fear that he will fail create a growing suspense until the climax, in which the hero's goal or problem is resolved. Posing a good dramatic question in the minds of your readers is the best way to create suspense and keep people reading. It is clear that suspense is a vital tool, but most books on writing only mention it in passing and few devote much space to its creation and development. To create a powerful suspense, make your hero face his greatest fear and risk losing what matters most to him.
But creating suspense is an art form and, like all forms of art, it must be practiced religiously and persistently before you can call yourself a teacher.