Adding suspense to your novel keeps the reader engaged and eager to keep reading on. Whether your novel is a pure suspense thriller, or even a romance novel, adding suspense to your story will make your book more interesting and memorable. Suspense in a novel is about building excitement and anticipation in your story. It’s about giving just a few details at a time, but making your readers want to know more. It’s about dropping hints, but not revealing anything, until the very end.
Read on to find out how to add suspense to your novel:
1. Start with Suspense
Create a gripping and suspenseful first scene to start your book with. Introduce the main characters, present their problems or goals, add a twist to make it unique, and reveal the main obstacles, right at the beginning to get the reader hooked.
2. Create Interesting Characters
Suspense requires making your readers care about what happens next, and they will prefer to care about an interesting or sympathetic character. Having characters who are underdogs, or unique, or in great trouble, makes them more interesting to readers. Make sure to have several unique or remarkable secondary characters to support or create problems for the main characters.
3. Find the Balance
For maximum suspense, you will need to have a delicate balancing act between the various plot elements. Posing the main dramatic question of the novel too early could give away the suspense, but posing it too late could make the readers’ lose interest. Again, giving too many hints too soon can spoil the suspense. You will need to sprinkle just enough clues and twists along the way to keep the reader engaged, without revealing too much.
4. Add Pressure
Put your lead character (s) in difficult or dangerous situations, and then, make it worse. Let things go wrong, and then follow up with more problems. Add conflicts with as many people and situations as possible. Make your readers worry about all the terrible things happening to the characters.
Creating unlimited adversity for your characters will reveal their true selves. This will make readers more sympathetic towards their cause, and build the suspense. Don’t go overboard though, as you will need to somehow resolve all these problems at the end of the book.
5. Plot Structure
As in every novel, a strong plot is essential for the story. A well-defined plot structure is especially important in a suspense novel. This involves firstly presenting clearly what the character’s main problem is, then the series of actions that the character takes to solve the problem(s), and how he/she fails or succeeds, which then leads to another, bigger problem. Make sure the plot has several scenes, each of which should have a dramatic ending (examples: a win or loss, a surprising twist, a murder, a killer caught, etc.), leading to the next scene. Do add lot of small wins and losses regularly for the main characters, to keep the reader engrossed.
6. Other Suspense Elements
Once you have a clear plot structure, you can intersperse the story liberally with many suspense elements such as secrets, deceptions, puzzles, close shaves, red herrings, deadlines, which all add to the suspense. Ultimately, your goal is to keep the readers guessing, thwart their expectations at every turn, and keep them on the edge of their seats, and waiting to turn the page to know what happens next.
Image credit: Harry on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]