Suspense and Tension Grab Readers and Keep Them Hooked
The appeal of story is the same reason we do a lot of things we enjoy: baking or gardening or bungee jumping. It’s not just to achieve the end product, or we’d go buy a box of doughnuts or an eggplant or just stay down there on the ground. The journey is the point—those moments flailing through the air on the end of a glorified rubber band. For a few breathless moments you get to experience the thrill of uncertainty—will the soufflé rise…how big will my watermelon get…is that thing going to snap in midair? That’s why we read (or watch) stories. And the crucial tools a writer uses to create that delicious uncertainty are suspense and tension.
Suspense and tension are among the most important elements of compelling, readable stories that grab your reader and compel her to turn the page—in every single genre. These two key craft elements are the engine of story.
The terms are often used interchangeably, and they’re intimately related, but suspense is more an element of story and tension an element of scene. Both create a question in the reader’s mind: In oversimplified terms, with suspense it’s “What happens next?” and with tension, “How will the character overcome this obstacle?” And both are crucial to compelling story in every genre, not just suspense novels.
In this detailed exploration into these concepts, learn why a lack of tension and suspense may be what’s keeping you from that publishing contract or bestseller list, or costing you reader investment. We’ll examine how to determine whether you have enough suspense and tension in your story, along with tips for how to develop these elements so that readers are compelled to keep turning pages.
Filled with practical examples from books, movies, and TV, this workshop will let you wield these powerful tools to amp up your story’s impact and effectiveness and keep readers hooked.