Creating and Maintaining Suspense

Hello Writers,

I've learned a lot during the time it took for me to write and publish my first book. One of the toughest things to figure out, though, was how to create and maintain suspense throughout a novel. Here's a few ideas I'd like to pass along:

*Location, location, location: The setting can add a lot to the suspense. Are you set on a windswept cliff above the rocky shoreline of England or in a deserted cabin surrounded by an expanse of forest? Probably sounds a little more exciting than in a split-level house in suburban America. (Though that can be worked with as well). But exotic locales and inherently mysterious sites can save you a lot of work.

*End each chapter with a cliffhanger. The idea is to keep readers turning pages into the wee hours, so avoid beginning a chapter with morning arriving and ending it as the sun sets. People can "go to sleep" in the middle of the chapter and then have the plot thicken and end on its highest note.

*Use strong words. Think compactly when you choose words. Take out unnecessary words, especially those that don't pack a punch. Choose verbs and adjectives carefully, avoiding common words. For example, use "crimson" instead of "red," "furious" instead of "mad."

*You must choose a worthy conflict for your book to revolve around. No one is going to care if a girl breaks up with her boyfriend. But if she's pregnant, her parents are going to kick her out of the house and a psychotic neighbor wants her baby...now you have suspense!

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