Hot answers tagged

14

too much dialogue. too much information about what you want the reader to guess (that is, the suspenseful bit). not enough information about the characters to care. The point of suspense is to leave the reader wondering what else is going on? what's going to happen next? This is talky without making us interested. We should get enough information to ...


11

It depends. Ending each chapter on a cliff hanger is a plot device used in some genres, like thrillers. Dan Brown uses it extensively in his books, as do some other writers. If well done, they can make the book more exciting, and gives it that 'can't put down' feel. On the other hand, if done badly, it irritates the reader, as it seems the only purpose of ...


8

If the character knows the vital detail, and if the vital detail matters to the character, and you want us readers to be deeply inside the character's head, you have to give the detail. Otherwise, when you reveal the detail, we suddenly discover that we were never really deeply in the character's head after all. If we were, then we too would have known the ...


7

Suspense is all about anticipation. What you've done very nicely is set up an immediate problem, probably a threat - the missing girl. You've also established a mystery - the guy's past and present relationship with the girl. The reader can anticipate both of these being developed and, eventually, resolved. So that's a good start. But suspense can get you ...


7

I'm afraid this piece feels far too jumbled for me to be intrigued by it. I feel like a lot of unrelated information is being thrown at me, and most of it isn't even real information - it's vague hints at details that haven't been revealed yet, and at this point I still have no idea why these details might be interesting. This may be counter-intuitive, but ...


6

Proper tense cliffhangers should be kept for a few occasions, otherwise your readers will guess what is happening, because they know it needs to have a problem by the end of the chapter. Like Eastenders. However leaving the ends of chapters in limbo - unresolved, with the characters walking off to certain death, while you take up another thread of the story ...


5

I think it is possible to pull this kind of thing off. In this particular instance the intriguing idea of keeping their relationship secret for a while would obviously change what details, memories, etc. you can delve into during inactive periods, but if done right this could lend a strong hand to grabbing the reader's interest sometime in the middle or end ...


5

It is a little too hard to tell what's going on. While this adds to the suspense, it might make a reader wonder if reading is worth the effort. How long can you read a book you don't understand?


4

Gallows humor, in my experience, can be greatly assisted by the word wry. This can be used to indicate that the character is aware of the gravity of the situation but is still making a joke. For example: The executioner asked, "Any last words?" Alex smiled wryly and replied, [some joke] Something else you can do is just not make the joke too silly or ...


4

When Socrates was about to drink hemlock, he asked, "May I pour out a libation to the gods?" And they told him "no", which is dark on another level. He had no respect for them or their pantheon, but they still took everything so seriously. After all, Socrates was dying because of their faith and their unwillingness to tolerate skepticism. You may be wrong ...


4

I would say no. Not for a book. Regardless of how you are defining cliffhanger, I don't think you need an aaiiigh!! moment at the end of every single chapter. A chapter should end for a reason, but that reason doesn't have to be a shock, reversal, discovery, or threat to life/limb/happiness. If you use the same trick or tool repeatedly, in the same place ...


3

I have a few ideas: Every word matters. Avoid adverbs, information dumps, and descriptive adjectives to the greatest extent possible. Still make it a "play of three acts" but with the first act being a single paragraph describing the protagonist, the antagonist, and the problem to be overcome. To build suspense quickly, we need to know right away what the ...


3

This can be done in a number of ways, but it may affect the plot to your story depending on which you choose. 1. They don't know it's their brother This one is pretty straightforward. Either they are working freelance to save "someone", (perhaps they know it's royalty that they are rescuing, but have been told no more than that) and when it is revealed ...


3

I like Kai's answer, one thing to add though is that you should make sure that you leave teasers throughout the book. Flashbacks to the two of them playing together or other clues, this is the main key to having a twist like this not feel like a cheat. When you can look back and see all the things you missed and go "of course, that's why". Think of the ...


2

In his book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (by Roy Peter Clark). He mentions a couple of ways that you can add suspense and tension: By delaying the main subject and verb His example: Before the prayer warriors massed outside her window, before gavels pounded in six courts, before the Vatican issues a statement, before ...


2

Like anything else, it won't work if you try to graft it on at the last moment. It has to be true to the character and situation to not break your reader's suspension of disbelief. Making jokes in serious or tragic situations happens in real life all the time, so it can read as real if it's really something your character would do. But if not, it's going ...


2

It can make the reader relate to the characters more. This will make any suspense feel more personal and thus intense. If character development is actually good it may also increase immersion, which also makes suspense feel more intense. And if characters change, develop, in response to events it will make the events seem more significant. Note that this ...


2

Same old worn joke. The humorous character did keep some running gag. A kind of jab at a younger partner, or some silly "ritual", or a funny one-liner reply. The reader is used to this joke, it was done at least twice in the story before, probably to a good humorous effect too (first time, sheer surprising humor, the other - a contextual humor that adds a ...


2

I recommend Damon Runyon's short stories to you. All of them are written in the present tense, and there are plenty of flashbacks. Tobias the Terrible One night I am sitting in Mindy's restaurant on Broadway partaking heartily of some Hungarian goulash which comes very nice in Mindy's, what with the chef being personally somewhat Hungarian ...


2

(spoilers) I second the user who recommends reading Agatha Christie's novel, One of the finer points of the novel was the fact that the narrator spends much of the time dwelling on other characters in the story rather than himself, its almost as if he is a secondary character rather than the arch typical narrator who is almost always assumed to be the ...


1

I've heard that suspense isn't about WHAT will happen, but about WHEN it will happen. When will the bomb under the table go off, when will the rival candidate's rigging of the polls be found out? If at all? Anyway, to answer your question, you might want to increase the stakes--if the campaigner doesn't win, the rival will do something bad. You might want ...


1

This seems almost too simplistic to make a good answer, but if your problem is that you can't generate suspense in a very short story, make the story longer. Alternatively, decide that the story is fine the length it is, and just accept that such a short story does not require suspense. The reader doesn't spend enough time with the characters to care about ...


1

tl;dr on all the answers here, but I'm actually facing the exact same quandary in my own novel. In addition, the secret the MC is keeping (his career) would come up conversationally between himself and the rest of the characters, so it's a constant struggle. I am employing a number of different tactics. Making the secret a known-unknown to the reader In ...


1

The novel Engleby by Sebastian Faulks does this, with a very simple and well known trick. You'll have seen similar things done is other novels before, although not usually with the POV character. The author's skill here is in misdirecting the reader and slowly dropping clues as to what's going on. In short, there are many ways of doing what you want. ...


1

Does anyone know of any novels that do this which I could look at as examples? There may be a reason that it is so difficult to find examples of the style. It is probably far too difficult for readers to accept 3rd person present as the point of view. How does 3rd person present help you tell your story any more than the normal and accepted 3rd ...


1

I think Dexter(tv series) is a good example. Like in season 1 when he is about to kill a couple he asks them questions about their married life, so that he can use their suggestions for his life also. He is about to kill them but still is able to make the situation filled with some sense of dark humor without degrading the scene.


1

Immediately after the humorous moment, do something that amplifies the emotion you want to emphasize.


1

Make the joke relevant to the situation — this will stop the reader from being distracted by the humour of the joke, and keep the serious atmosphere. Even bad or very funny jokes can be used if the character delivers them correctly. And now some examples: In the Time Riders series by Alex Scarrow, when two pirates are about to hanged, one says to the ...


1

I don't always recommend these guys because sometimes they have tips I don't think are great, but Writer's Digest has a pretty good article on this. The main thing I think you need to do is connect us more to the main character (basically the first point in the Writer's Digest article). The main character seems really rushed. I tried to remember the main ...



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