make em wait (suspense rule #1)

My oldest son occasionally says: “Want to know the definition of suspense? I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

This joke captures the essence of suspense, which is to ask a question and then… make em wait!

Good stories constantly imply interesting questions. The questions and their answers are like the bread crumbs that lead you into the fairy tale woods. Reading is fun when you know you’re going into the woods AND you know that the author will guide you through its maze-like wonders and terrors skillfully, step by step, bread crumb by tasty bread crumb. You don’t have to worry about getting truly lost. You don’t have to worry about the woods holding nothing of interest. The skilful writer gains your trust with the placing of the bread crumbs. Then you’re along for the ride. And if the answers to the questions are not immediately provided, the ride will be filled with thrills and spills – suspense!

How exactly does a writer do this – make em wait? Continue reading