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How to use suspense in writing

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Suspense is an extremely useful feature to use when writing. It leaves the reader hanging; makes them want to know what will happen next. In this guide, I will give you some top tips to make the most of this amazing literary device.


Make your reader feel for the character
If your character is of no interest to your reader, there is no point in trying to make them worry or feel afraid for them. Therefore, the best way to avoid this is to describe them in detail; make the reader feel their joys and sorrows, their loves and hates.


Atmosphere
Suppose your character is at home watching their favourite cartoons, it is highly unlikely a blood-eating vampire would walk through the door with a platoon of bat henchman. However, the probability would change if they were in a creepy castle at midnight in the middle of nowhere. So, to write a suspense story you need a relevant place and atmosphere.


Short sentences for effect
When writing suspense, you need a fast-paced story and to achieve that, your best option is short sentences. For example, instead of ‘He ran as fast as he could like a cheetah through the corridor just as the alien caught sight of him.’ You could simply say ‘He ran’.


Show not tell
Show not tell is a feature used when you want the reader to infer instead of telling them straight. An example of this is’ a shiver ran down her spine.’ From this, we can conclude that the character is scared or afraid without telling so. It can be used with all 5 senses.


Tell the reader more than the character knows
This is an extremely useful technique for when your character is or will be in danger. It tells the reader about the danger or threat so they know what could happen and want the character to be safe. A good representation of this is instead of having ‘they ran into the classroom’ you can reveal first what is in the classroom so the reader is on the edge of their seat for the character when they walk in. Therefore, it can be just the finishing touch for your writing piece.

In conclusion, using all these features together would create an amazing writing piece so keep practising and using them.

Written by; Nimra Arslan

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