SHH! CLANDESTINE SECRETS FOR WRITING SUSPENSE….
You want to write a suspense-thriller, but you’re not sure how to keep the pages turning? Here’s what worked for me, and hopefully it’ll work for you too:
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU’RE MOST SCARED OF AND INCORPORATE THOSE EVENTS INTO YOUR NOVEL.
Don’t like to be alone at home at night? Why not? Probably because you’re sure every small noise is something amiss… a break-in? A mouse? A burst pipe? Hate when you come home and the front door is open a crack, making you wonder if you did that or a stranger did…?Every time you realize that your heart is pumping in fear, make a note of it and incorporate a scene into your next book.
2. TEASE BUT DON’T APPEASE
Just when the reader thinks the answer will be revealed, throw a wrench into the plan. Literally. Make someone appear that has a wrench and threaten to harm them, like I did in WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE. Or…come up with some other frightening alternative, one that makes your main character run.
3. END CHAPTERS IN CHAOS
Never let the reader turn off the light and go to sleep feeling good about your characters. NO WAY! End the chapter BEFORE they open the door, get out of the way of the speeding car, or ask the micromanaging boss for a holiday off. I don’t mean mid-sentence, but bring the reader to the brink and have a small interruption make them delay for a moment…long enough to end the chapter and propel your reader to stay up past their bedtime.
4. DON’T TROT OUT ALL OF THE POSSIBLE SCENARIOS
Keep the reader in the dark along with your main character. YOU, the writer, know how they’ll get out of this, but don’t make the solution so obvious that your twist is anything but predictable. If the solution will be found in the cemetery, have your character drive past it, always curious about the gravedigger with the limp, but make the actual answer the gentle loving cemetery director.
5. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT (AND INTERESTING) SUB-PLOTS TO KEEP THE READERS ON THEIR TOES
No one likes to figure out the answer in the first one hundred pages. While you need to introduce the main goal in the initial pages, add a sub-plot or two along the way that makes the reader wonder what’s going to happen. Keep five plates spinning in the air, and the reader will enjoy watching and waiting for one, or more, to fall.