How to Write Hair-Rising Suspense

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Suspense.

While reading—it keeps us turning the page with sweaty hands.

While writing. . . sometimes it’s just downright a pain.

If I can cause my reader to grow a few extra gray hairs from my writing, I count that a success. *I apologize ahead of time to any of my readers hoping to keep their luscious colorful locks hair.* Here are some of the basics for adding suspense I use.

 

1. Flow

This is huge.

There’s two ways to change the flow of your book to add suspense. First, reduce the word count. The longer your sentence, the easier it is to lose your reader. The shorter, the more impactful.

Keep in mind there’s a fine line between short sentences and choppy ones. If you. Use this technique. Throughout your novel. It loses its power. And becomes. Frustrating to read. Use it sparingly.

Another way to change the flow is by using one word paragraphs. See what I did at the top of this blog post? Using one word captures attention. Use this technique for those critical moments in your story where you need the tension be thick.

 

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2. Information

We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips. Instant gratification has ruined us. This becomes particularly relevant when it comes to suspense in writing.

The ‘hook’ as everyone calls it isn’t optional. Trouble is, how do we find one? Sure, there’s the traditional suspenseful ending at the end of a chapter to make the reader want to turn the page instead of putting the book down, but what else?

Restricting information is a great way to do this. It’s all about creating an atmosphere of needing to know. Bring up little bits of conversation or intriguing details that will beg an explanation but then limit that information. Feed your reader answers slowly. Don’t give everything away from the get go or you’ll lose the suspense.

 

3. Foreshadowing

Suspense wouldn’t be complete without foreshadowing. Yes, we all know what foreshadowing is. . .but do we use it? Foreshadowing is the long-term way of keeping readers reading. They’re the little details when the story has slowed that cause the reader to pause and think. It’s that gut feeling that things aren’t as they seem.

 

These are some of the ways I like to add suspense to my writing. Check out this great infographic by Now Novel on foreshadowing. How do you add suspense?

 

author-candace-robinson

 

Candace signing off to go do something exciting. Sky diving anyone?

 

 

Photo credit: The Lone Ranger by USDA/CC BY

Photo credit: Suspense by Everton Kpta/CC BY

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