How to write suspense.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Par out Clues

When I first started writing suspense, I thought I needed many secrets to my story so I'd have enough material to surprise readers with. The task seemed daunting. But as I continued to study novels by other authors similar to my own, I realized the trick is not necessarily to have tons of secrets, but to par out the information I do have a little at a time. Look at any mystery novel as an example. Each clue to the final mystery is interesting and keeps the reader reading, but by itself, it's not necessarily exciting until they come together in the finale. Then bang!

Consider the first Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. (Spoiler Alert) In it, the real secret to the bad guy's success is that he uses science to achieve his evil designs. Along the journey of the novel's story, the author gives us little clues. Here are a few. The watch, the experiments, the drugs, the boiled frogs, Alone, these bits of information aren't too exciting, but when they are combined with the frightening murders, the bad guy's "resurrection," and the interesting characters, we have an intriguing and suspenseful tale.

So this week's secret is spread out tiny clues to the ultimate secret.

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