what is suspense

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  2. Examples
  3. Mysterious Suspense

When we do not understand what is at stake, we are simply left with uncertainty and mystery. Shock allows action or an event to unfold in real time in front of the audience. The audience perspective is also more subjective, allowing them to experience the story with a character. They also typically know the same information that the character does.

Within cinematography, we have a multitude of strategies for building suspense. The way we light the room, https://www.bookstime.com/ the use of shadows and light is crucial. Before you shoot a tense scene, learn how to move the camera.


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We make a promise to our readers, right from the first sentences of a story, by way of genre and reader expectations. What a reader brings to the table is curiosity and a willingness to be satisfied. Suspense is what suspense account motivates the reader to keep turning pages as they anticipate story events. Every kind of story should have some suspense serving this function, whether slated for a New York editor or simply for your own enjoyment.

  • Color correcting and color grading can be applied to give your scenes that extra pop.
  • Suspense happens when these dramatic questions trap the reader’s attention and makes them want to know what happens next.
  • An example of suspense is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, where we follow a father desperately trying to keep his child alive in a dangerous and dying world.
  • In the jaundiced prison light, the lines on the pad of your thumb look like a dried-out riverbed, like sand washed into twirling patterns by water, once there and now gone.
  • This article will dig into the ins and outs, ups and downs of suspense and demonstrate ways you can use it in your own work.

This plot twist abruptly transforms the mysterious into the horrific, as the narrator confronts her murderous ex — suddenly putting her life in jeopardy, when she didn’t even realize he was dangerous. Mysterious suspense is the most traditional form of suspense, often used in thrillers and, of course, mystery novels. Though all suspense involves mystery in one way or another, mysterious suspense differs in that something is deliberately being concealed from the reader. They know they don’t have the whole truth and it keeps them on their toes. When constructing this kind of suspense, you want to continuously hint at its resolution. But you also don’t want to overwhelm your reader; the constant pressure of an impending reveal can make them feel overly anxious as well as impatient.


I was aware of a growing sense of horror, of horror turning to despair. I touched the quilt on the bed, traced with my fingers the monogram on the nightdress case, R de W, interwoven and interlaced. The letters were corded and strong against the golden satin material. The nightdress was inside the case, thin as gossamer, apricot in color.

No matter how you use flashbacks, however, they need to mean something in the story. You can include a red herring as part of flashback, but the whole thing can’t just be a diversion, or your reader will feel betrayed. That goes for content as well as tone — flashbacks should read as vividly and intriguingly as the present-day narrative, and shouldn’t feel like a distraction, but an augmentation to the plot. Romantic suspense may occur in lighthearted or more dramatic fiction, such as harlequin romances.

Mysterious Suspense

Almost every department in a film’s production can be used towards sustaining and building suspense. A musical score, sound design, editing, cinematography techniques, and production design can all greatly impact the quality of suspense. We’ll look at a variety of methods you might use to innovate your idea for a mystery or thriller novel or short story in a new article soon. For example, you could change up the genre, like the writers of Throw Mama from The Train did when they vamped on the Alfred Hitchcock film, Strangers on a Train, turning the thriller classic into a comedy. For example, if you’re a fan of the TV show NCIS, you’re well acquainted with Gibbs’s crack team of crime solvers.

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