How to make your writing suspenseful - Victoria Smith
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The writer Lee Child thinks that only one device is needed to make the reader feel suspense: a question. Because once a question is introduced, humans are hardwired to want to know the answer. Read his blog explaining ‘A Simple Way to Create Suspense’ in the New York Times.
Mark Billingham wrote an article in The Guardian arguing that the real key to suspense lies in the creation of empathetic characters. Do you agree that this is the most important factor for gripping a reader?
Alfred Hitchcock, a film director and producer, is sometimes referred to as ‘The Master of Suspense.’ Turn out the lights and watch some of his movies (here’s a list) and then consider how his plots and camerawork make use of some of the techniques discussed in the lesson. Hitchcock explains how suspense isn’t always the same as fear, and how surprise and suspense are two very different things in his interview about ‘Mysteries, Surprise and Suspense’.
If you’re writing a novel and you want to keep your reader interested, you should also think about your hero’s journey: try watching the TED-Ed lesson, ‘What makes a hero?’ If the concept of dramatic irony has got you intrigued, take a look at the TED-Ed lesson ‘In on a secret? That’s dramatic irony.’ It shows that this technique is equally important in horror and in comedy.
The creator of this lesson, Victoria Smith, runs a London-based Educational Consultancy, Griffin and Bell Education, which specialises in private tuition and homeschooling. Victoria also has a blog called ‘Live, Learn and Prosper’ about education, creativity and confidence.
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