The feeling of suspense is a paradoxical one, as it is both anxiety-inducing and enjoyable. As a writer, I strive to create tension in my work, while as a psychologist, I am intrigued to understand why people seek out this feeling. Suspense is a state of mental uncertainty, anxiety, indecision, or doubt. It is the anticipation of the outcome of a plot or the solution to an uncertainty, riddle, or mystery.
It is not exclusive to fiction, as suspense elements are used in storytelling to maintain public interest. Suspense is a state of anxiety or worry. It can be a sense of uncertainty created when a person is presented with a problem or challenge and anxiously awaits the outcome. This feeling can be experienced even when one knows the outcome of the story, as they may still feel fear and anxiety which they confuse with suspense. However, if suspense requires uncertainty, it should be impossible to feel it during subsequent visits. Mystery and suspense stories are designed to keep readers smiling and squirming at the same time.
The stakes are high enough to make the narrative engaging but not intolerable. Robert Yanal offers an explanation for this paradox by denying the third premise that repeaters feel real suspense in the face of repeated encounters with well-known narratives. Tell me that you don't feel that gripping sensation when you watch a thriller trailer or read the back cover of a mystery book. Readers will feel tense when they are concerned about the safety of a character or their ability to deal with danger. At the same time, the cognitive aspects of suspense such as riddles and questions and problem solving must be recognized for creating those anxious yet strangely pleasant feelings.