How to Use Suspense in a Book ( Tips & Examples Included)

How to Use Suspense in a Book is a question many authors are trying to find the answer to. In this article, we will look into how to use suspense in a book and the techniques.

Many people are under the impression that books are simply broken down into two types: Mystery and Romance. And while these genres both focus on providing the reader with a suspenseful experience, there is more to suspense than meets the eye. Suspense is one of the most powerful tools an author can utilize in their writing because it practically forces your readers to keep turning the page.

What is Suspense?

Suspense has been defined in many different ways, but at its core suspense is an emotion. It can be found in any story regardless of genre, but it is most commonly found within thrillers and horror stories. This form of buildup occurs when the reader experiences conflicting feelings about what might happen next.

Why do Authors Use Suspense?

The suspense was originally created to keep the reader engaged. The story itself could’ve been resolved within a couple of pages, but by continuing to move forward through conflict, suspense builds up until something has to be done about it. This tension keeps the readers turning page after page.

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How is Suspense Created?

In order to create suspense within your story, you have to withhold some portion of the plot from the reader. This can be done through either misinformation or leaving out pieces of information that might be obvious to a character but not to the reader.

What is an example of suspense in a book?

One example of a book that emphasized suspense was “The Da Vinci Code” When creating this story, author Dan Brown had to make sure that the reader was aware of what the main character didn’t know. In this case, he left out a lot of information from his narrative and focused on revealing just enough for the reader to piece together what was happening while still leaving them in suspense. This technique is used by many authors toward the end of a story because it leaves the reader wanting more.

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite short stories because it is full of suspense.

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is an example of suspense because the reader doesn’t know what will happen to Tessie when she picks out a piece of paper from her box instead of dropping one in. We are led to believe that the townspeople are going to stone her, so they build up suspense by withholding the information on what they are actually going to do.

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We also know very little about Tessie, so there’s a lot of mystery surrounding her. This is another way that suspense and surprise come together to keep the reader intrigued and wanting more out of this story even though we already know the ending.

How to Use Suspense in a Book?

Step by step guide to finding suspense in your story, including some examples.

1) Locate the Point of Tension:

The first thing you need to do is locate where tension exists within your story. Even if it is not immediately obvious, every book has something that doesn’t quite sit right with the characters or the reader. This will be the component on which you focus to create suspense.

2) Create Conflict:

Once you have located your point of tension, it’s time to create conflict. Most of this tension is created through what the characters are doing in response to this issue. They might be trying everything they can think of or perhaps absolutely nothing at all. Either way, there will be a struggle.

3) Delay the Resolution:

Now that you have conflict and tension, you need to wait before resolving it. This can be done in many different ways, but most often suspense is built up by withholding information from the reader or providing false clues. The main goal of this step is to keep the reader hooked on your story so they will continue reading until they reach a resolution themselves.

4) Resolve the Tension:

Finally, once your readers have been waiting long enough for something to happen, you get to resolve all of their unanswered questions and provide them with some new ones. This leaves them wanting more which means they’ll keep coming back for new installments in your series (if you’re writing one).

What is the Difference between Suspense and Surprise?

1) While both suspense and surprise involve withholding information from the reader, suspense is created through conflict. You could have a surprise without conflict but not vice versa.

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2) There is no need for any surprises for a story to have suspense, but there can’t be any resolution of tension without any tension being created.

3) Surprise does not have to be built up through conflict, but the suspense does. You can surprise a reader by providing them with some straightforward information on which they were previously unaware.

4) The two concepts work together in order to keep the reader engaged and wanting more for as long as possible.

5) Surprise is resolved by the end of the story, but suspense can continue on through an entire series.

How do you identify suspense in a story?

1) Look for an unanswered question in the story.

This is usually something that the characters are left wondering about, but it could also be a piece of information that they don’t know and the reader does (although there should be some indication that this knowledge will lead to more questions).

2) Find where conflict arises in the book.

This is normally between the main character(s) and whatever obstacle they are trying to overcome, but this isn’t always the case. This question could also come from an internal struggle that your characters are having, which is just as effective when it comes to building suspense.

3) Examine how you have delayed the resolution of any possible questions in the story.

This could be through withholding information from the reader or providing false clues, but it’s also possible to have a big reveal in order to wrap up all unresolved questions in your book.

What are suspense techniques?

1) Creating false clues:

You can create suspense in your story by leading the reader to believe something is going to happen and then having it not. For example, you could have a character with a knife go up to another and put it away before turning and walking away with no harm done. This makes the reader believe that they are in less danger than they actually are.

2) Providing inaccurate information:

You can also build suspense in your story by providing inaccurate information. This could mean telling the reader something is going to happen, but then having it not or vice versa. The important thing to remember is that your reader should get the wrong idea about something at least once in order to create suspense.

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3) Hinting at possible danger:

You can also build suspense by giving your reader some information about what might come next. This could mean having a character speak an ominous line that foreshadows the future or it could mean having a character be particularly suspicious and giving us some insight into what they might do next. Either way, this creates anticipation for the reader and makes them wonder how you will manage to surprise them next.

4) Succinctness:

The shorter your story is, the more suspense you can build. This makes it so that your reader will have less time to guess what might happen to lead them to keep reading in order to discover the answer.

5) Maximizing stakes:

The higher the stakes are, the more suspense you can create for your book. If one of your characters is hanging off a cliff and there’s only one rope available to help them, this will cause much more suspense than if your character was just hanging out in their living room.

Final Thought

Both surprise and suspense are critical components of a good story, but they can often be difficult to implement or understand. With a basic understanding of how each of these concepts works in a story, you’ll be able to create more suspenseful books with ease.

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