07 Jul

Create Suspense in Fiction Part Six

Techniques for creating suspense - part sixI’ve summarized all my suspense techniques at the end of this post. Today, I’m here to present number six.
In this one, the secret keeper doesn’t have to be the MC. In fact, it may be best if it’s not. The secrets must relate to the plot or characters central to the story.
I’m currently reading the book Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans and he uses this technique very well in this book. In it, the MC meets a lady who introduces herself as Angel. Later, when he’s at her apartment, someone stops by asking for someone named Nicole. When he asks her about it, she says nobody named Nicole lives there. Later, he’s talking to the landlord who asks how Nicole is doing. By this point, we know that Angel is keeping some pretty big secrets and we desperately want to know what they are and why.
So, that’s all I have for now. These six techniques can be used to create suspense in any story.
  1. Possible DangerPresent possible danger and consequences. Then have the MC ignore it or think it can’t happen to them
  2. Lurking Danger – A threat exists that reader knows about, but MC doesn’t – usually only works with multiple POV
  3. Big Moment Trouble – Present a situation that everyone knows needs to happen, but we don’t know if the MC will be able to get there – plan gone wrong – flat tire on way to big interview
  4. Moral Dilemma / Decision – Force MC to make a difficult decision with huge and terrible stakes – usually a no win situation
  5. Closing DoorsMake the MC close doors the reader knows MC will need later on
  6. Keeping Secrets – Character keeps secrets that create danger/problems for MC or someone else we want to succeed
Which techniques do you use?
Can you think of others that don’t fit into one of these six?
Let me know in the comments.

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