I’m trying a little experiment this morning. I wrote what I thought was a really good blog on suspense, and I got very few hits. I decided the issue was the title. So for those who read this blog under the ineffective title, I apologize. For those who are reading this blog for the first time, I hope it helps. The title does matter, but that discussion is for another day.
If you want your reader to continue reading, you have to give them a reason why. Draw them in and keep them guessing. The number one weapon in your arsenal to accomplish this feat is the use of suspense.
If you’ve done a good job of developing a character your reader cares about, they are going to hang on to make sure things work out in the end.
There are four main ways to create suspense.
- Put the outcome in doubt. Keep your reader guessing. It could end one way, but it could end another. This works best if your reader has a strong connection with the main character.
- Make them wait. Don’t show your hand up front. Don’t resolve issues right away. Present the conflict and then take your time presenting a resolution.
- Foreshadowing. Hint at what’s to come without sharing the details. Twilight used this technique by opening with the end minus all the details of how and why.
- Use a clock. The main character has a limited amount of time to accomplish a task. Will he/she find succeed or fail.
You can mix and match these techniques. You are not limited in your choice. An example would be opening with foreshadowing in the first paragraph and then adding the use of a clock at the end.
Something to think about.