I've been writing my first story for almost one year, and I am facing problems in working on suspense and that's why I'm slowing on it..I just present ideas, kind of explicitly and I don't know how to left the chance for the reader to think and to be excited ? This fact unfortunately make me sometimes give up and think about stopping writing How do I overcome this problem ?

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    The two answers you've gotten so far are both excellent. I'm only commenting because you "just present ideas, kind of explicitly" and dont think that you leave room for the reader to think. Everyone should develop their own style, but after you have everything explicitly stated you could go back and look for places you can imply a thing happens, or let a character react to something instead of just saying it bluntly. Readers like to have some things to figure out, let your picture be just clear enough for them to add flavor from their own imagination.
    – Leviathann
    Jul 28, 2020 at 23:45
  • Adding to @Leviathann's comment, make sure you know your target audience too, and how likely they are to be able to fill in the gaps on their own. A short story I wrote earlier this year received polarised reviews, mainly due to Event A in scene 1 which lead (via unmentioned interim steps) to Event B in scene 2 (which was set several days later, and had completely different characters). Readers who were able to infer and abduce those hidden steps for themselves felt clever, and rated the story highly. Readers who couldn't were unable to see any link between the scenes & just felt confused. Jul 29, 2020 at 10:25

2 Answers 2


Suspense is created through anticipation of events outside of characters' control.

Suspense is most common in horror/thriller genres, but generally, suspense can be positive or comedic and be suitable in any kind of plot.

The higher characters' stakes are for the event, the bigger is the suspense. However, the reader must be "invested" in characters in order to feel the suspense.

The more obscure is the event, the bigger is the suspense. If the character is scheduled to be executed by hanging, this is dramatic, but not very suspenseful. But if the character is anticipating a visit by a mysterious horror creature, suspense would be much higher.

The more unstable and fragile current situation is, the bigger is the suspense. A character may build one-story card house or five-story card house, with equal stakes and equal clarity of the expected outcome. In case of a five-story card house, suspense would be higher.


You have to realize that we do many types of writing for a book, and only some of those are meant for the reader. What you're doing right now is called worldbuilding. It's a very important part of your process, but it's only the first step. Once you completely understand all your characters, settings and plot, choose a point-of-view character, and go back through the story, only writing into the final book the things that the character personally observes or experiences.

You'll also want to give that character strong goals and desires, make sure he or she is growing and changing through the events, and conceal some information from them. That will lead to a suspenseful book. If this part of the process doesn't seem clear, I recommend Story Genius as a good resource that can help you plot out a character-driven throughline.

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