5 Keys to a Suspenseful Story



Writing a suspense story is a challenging task. You have to let your readers in on the secret and keep them on their toes at the same time. The suspense genre relishes in provoking worry, adrenaline, and later, relief from its readers. If you’re planning to dabble in this genre, here are five keys to keep in mind to write a suspenseful story:

  1. Characters

Create a protagonist whom your readers can relate to and root for. In turn, you have to have a villain that will counter your protagonist but also have relatable traits. Explore both characters’ motivations and personalities. Show your readers what makes them tick. Your reader must fear your villain. They have to feel the hero’s determination and desperation to outsmart and defeat the antagonist. Keep things realistic by letting other characters become involved either in helping the protagonist or assisting the antagonist.

  1. Trouble

The point of a suspense story is to elicit heightened emotions and reactions. Trouble and adversity in the form of a conflict are two things that provoke both. A great suspense story needs a great conflict, not necessarily one that will result in global annihilation, but one that will have devastating consequences for the characters if left unsolved.

  1. Time

To raise the stakes, a time limit must be set. Your protagonist must solve the problem before the time runs out and something terrible happens. This way, you incite a sense of urgency and a feeling of suspense in our readers. Time adds pressure that helps develop your protagonist’s character.

  1. Perspectives

In a suspense story, you can hop from the protagonist’s thoughts to the antagonist’s mind. Readers can see through the eyes of the different characters. Multiple perspectives will give your story added complexity. If you tell your story through different points of views, you give your readers the chance to gain insights from the various characters.

  1. Surprises

The villain in most suspense stories is rarely a mystery. The protagonist knows their enemy. Their quest revolves around stopping their nemesis’s plans from reaching fruition. The challenging part is how you can catch your readers off guard even with their awareness of certain details. In spite of their cognizance, keep some things vague. Make them doubt that a conclusion in favor of the protagonist will ever happen. Always maintain a sense of uncertainty so you can constantly surprise your readers.

2 responses to “5 Keys to a Suspenseful Story

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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD