Anita Fisk is a passionate author with an unwavering fondness for literature. She has been writing some great books in the past few years in the hopes of encouraging other people to develop a love for literary works as well. Writing suspense novels, particularly, is her forte. Her novels – Unintended Sacrifices and Twist of Fate – are stirring page-turners that have already established a good following among suspense readers.

Suspense novels are basically books belonging to a genre that largely uses the element of suspense. Suspense is a literary device that authors utilize to keep the interest of their readers alive all throughout the book. It is the intense feeling that readers experience while waiting for the outcome of the events being narrated. In other words, suspense novels are novels that leave the readers holding their breath.

Creating suspense in a story is not as easy as it seems, however. Not everyone can write like Anita Fisk. It is not easy to come up with a compelling writing that hooks the readers from beginning to end. With that being said, there are some great writing techniques that aspiring suspense authors can follow to create an effective atmosphere of suspense in their stories. Keep reading because this article will provide you with some quite useful tips on how to make your writing suspenseful.

Use varying sentence length

To make your writing effectively suspenseful, it should possess variety and flow. Your choice of words and the length of your sentences should be accordingly different each scene so that the rhythm of words on each page of your book does not sound dull and repetitive.

Sentence length, particularly, is an important consideration when writing suspense. Using varying sentence length essentially shows a change in the tempo of a scene, which is quite frequent in suspense novels. For example, when a scene suddenly intensifies, it is ideal and necessary to use shorter sentence to demonstrate an increase in pace. You would not want to use long sentences in scenes of high drama and anticipation as they tend to kill the suspense.

Use adverbial clauses of time

Adverbial clauses of time are frequently used in suspense novels to help facilitate anticipation and wonder in certain scenes. Adverbial clauses of time are basically clauses that locate actions or events in chronological relation to other actions and events. In other words, they demonstrate when a certain action or event takes place.

When writing a supposedly suspenseful scene, it can be very helpful to use adverbial clauses of time that tend to create suspense. Here is an example of an action or event that uses a suspense-creating adverbial clause of time:

Before I could even turn the lights on, I heard a sound of footsteps moving towards me. . .

In the above example, “before I could even turn the lights on” is an adverbial phrase that creates suspense. Upon reading it, readers will get the idea that something happened to the narrator that prevented him or her from doing what he or she intends to do. This then creates the atmosphere of suspense by raising the readers’ curiosity about the outcome. In addition, this adverbial phrase also indicates that the action or event happening in the scene (i.e. the hearing of footsteps) took place in the dark. Of course, hearing eerie things in the dark is much more suspenseful and sinister than hearing anything with the lights on.

Choose the right setting

Choosing the right setting is important when writing suspense. The setting practically sets the overall mood of a scene. In suspense novels, old buildings such as mansions, schools, and hotels are commonly used as a setting because they create a sinister atmosphere and their being ‘old’ suggests that disturbing things may have happened inside them in the past.

However, when choosing the setting of your story, it is also important that you veer away from using clichéd places and events as much as possible. Clichés are frequently frowned upon in literature. To ensure that your writing becomes truly suspenseful, try as much as you can to come up with fresh and unique elements in your story.

Give your character a suspenseful development

Character development is an important element of suspense. Stories with dynamic characters, which undergo significant changes, tend to be more exciting and gripping than stories with static and unchanging characters. For this reason, writing suspense requires creating characters that go through a suspenseful development.

For example, to make your writing suspenseful, you can give your protagonist some weaknesses that threaten to inhibit him or her from achieving the main goal. Doing so will leave your readers curious and uncertain about whether or not the protagonist will be able to overcome these weaknesses and achieve his or her goal.

Add plot complications

Adding plot complications can increase the sense of suspense in a story. Plot complications are basically any aspect of the story that the protagonist or antagonist should overcome or resolve in order to move forward and reach the endpoint of the story. In other words, plot complications are any roadblocks or reversals that prevent the characters from achieving their goals.

Plot complications are particularly important in suspense writing because they create uncertainties and unknowns. These uncertainties and unknowns then keep the readers wondering about the course of the story and the future of the characters. Thus, plot complications make stories more active, engrossing, and suspenseful.  

Overall, writing suspense novels takes quite a practice. There is a lot of things to consider in order to come up with a writing that is truly suspenseful. Suspense authors like Anita Fisk serve as an inspiration for aspiring authors to continue trying despite bad first drafts and creative blocks. With enough time and practice, you can most certainly write a suspense story that leaves the readers holding their breath and that hooks them from beginning to end.

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