How to Become a Suspense Master

When you hear the word suspense, what name comes to your mind? Alfred Hitchcock, I believe. And it’s not surprising because this outstanding film director is famous for artfully building up suspense in his movies. In fact, suspense can be used not only in cinematography but in creative writing as well. If you are an aspiring writer and you want to gain a huge readership who will read our books avidly, you might want to try suspense. But how do you become a Master of Suspense, like Hitchcock?

First of all, you should know what exactly suspense is. Basically, it is a way of entertaining your audience or readers by making them feel apprehension mixed with excitement. Suspense shouldn’t be confused with mystery. Although connected and frequently used together, those are two different things. As Alfred Hitchcock himself described the difference between the two, mystery is about logical assumptions, while suspense is all about emotions. For instance, in Hitchcock’s Psycho, the mystery is in finding out the personality of the killer. The audience analyses characters’ motives for all the killings, their alibis, etc. That’s mystery. Whereas suspense is the chilling feeling the audience gets throughout the whole movie. How does Hitchcock manage to achieve that?

The key to building suspense in the minds of your audience is repeatedly giving them some pieces of information and leaving them on their own with their anticipation, their fears. It works especially well when you let your readers have more information than your characters have. For example, you tell them about a certain danger your character is about to find themselves in. It leaves them scared, intrigued, and full of questions. When will the character realize they’re in danger? Will they manage to escape it? That’s an emotional rollercoaster, which your readers or audience are going to enjoy very much.

To conclude, remember that suspense is not only for thrillers and crime stories. It works equally fine with all the genres if you know how to use it properly.


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