Seven Tips on Writing Great Suspense Novels
(excerpts from Post by Tony Lee Moral on The Writer’s Dig, May 15, 2017)
- The number one rule of suspense is to give your reader information, i.e., there is a bomb in the room or there is a ghost in the room.
- Use counterpoint contrast. Per Alfred Hitchcock, “Suspense doesn’t have any value unless it’s balanced by humor.” Comedy can make your writing more dramatic and give your reader a chance to reflect on the suspense.
- A good story should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension.
- Never use a setting as a simple background. Use it 100%. Incorporate them into the drama.
- At the same time, avoid the cliché in your locations, such as staging a murder in a dark alleyway or at night. The sense of the unexpected and the idea that turmoil can erupt at any moment, will keep your readers on their guard.
- Keep your story moving. Use sudden switches in location to change the setting and promote suspense drama changes. Set up the locations at the beginning and use them for action later on.
- Avoid stereotypes whether it is the character or the plot. Make your villains attractive, so they can get near the victims.