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Suspense Writing: How to Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seat

Learn how to grip and engage readers through suspense writing on your site or blog. Use these techniques to create suspense and thrilling excitement!

According to this report, psychological suspense novels and television shows are surging in popularity. Whether it’s a true-crime podcast, fantasy novel, or murder mystery series, more people are diving into the suspense.

Do you have what it takes to write with wonder, worry, and fear driving the story?

Suspense writing can keep your readers on the edge of their seats. This writing style isn’t just for novels and T.V. series, though. Your website or blog can benefit from a dash of thrilling excitement and suspense, too!

What’s going to happen next? Keep reading to discover 10 ways you can add suspense writing to your work!

1. A Purposeful Point of View

As the writer, you see and know all, long before your characters do. Try to give your readers this same foresight as well. 

To start, let them see what the protagonist and antagonist are up to.

Giving a reader both sides of the story will let them see trouble stirring before the protagonist does. This foresight stirs up anticipation. Your reader will recognize potential consequences, making them wonder how the story will continue. 

As the tension builds, you can use the reader’s emotional investment to keep them reading. This tension derives from the reader’s fears as they realize the potential trouble ahead.

With blog writing, you can use this same technique to show the readers their troubles. What problems are they experiencing? How can those problems get worse without solutions?

Without a little suspense, your writing might feel boring. Suspense writing drives people forward, whether it’s through a story or helpful blog post.

2. Tick Tock

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Suspense writing also relies on timing and urgency.

What happens if the problem isn’t solved immediately? In fiction, the protagonist is working against the clock to stop the bad guys. In a blog post, you want to offer readers solutions before small problems become much worse.

Keep your readers focused on that clock. Remind them of what happens when time runs out. You can even shorten the clock to keep building suspense by adding urgency.

3. Pressure Points

The protagonist (or for a blog post, the reader) has a difficult situation to deal with. The odds seem slim, but they at least have to try, right? To save the day, the protagonist will use every skill and strength at their disposal.

For suspenseful writing, keep adding pressure. Don’t break your protagonist, though.

Instead, push the protagonist to their limit. By the end of the story, we’ll see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve accomplished. Their successes will look like even bigger feats when we see how much they’ve overcome.

4. High Stakes

Creating a high stakes situation doesn’t mean you have to write about the world’s impending doom. Rather, consider your protagonist. What’s the worst-case scenario they could find themselves in?

Create high stakes that will keep your protagonist motivated to move towards a solution. This will add suspense to the story and keep readers moving forward, too.

For blog writing, consider your readers. What high stakes are they experiencing? If you’re writing about repairing a leak, remind them about potential structural damage.

A possible roof collapse will probably keep them reading to discover a fix.

5. Dilemmas and Detours

Once you determine the high stakes, slow your protagonist down with small dilemmas. Suspense writing relies on constant challenges.

Give your protagonist a lose-lose situation. Put them to the test by forcing them to make difficult choices. Constant dilemmas and detours will move the story forward while adding the pressure of time constraints. 

Have fun with it, too. Not every situation needs to be life or death.

Throw your protagonist into an Escape Room. This will slow down their progress and put their problem-solving abilities to the test.

6. Complicate Things

Chances are, it can get worse. For successful suspense writing, pile one problem on top of the next. Give your protagonist more problems than they know how to deal with.

Complications can give your story layers. In blog writing, remain realistic. Point out the different potential problems your readers might have to face if they don’t consider solutions. 

7. Remain Unpredictable

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73% of adults have read a book in the past year. According to the same report, more people are reading mystery, thriller, and crime. While romance novels sometimes feel predictable, suspense novels keep people wondering “what’s next?”

Life isn’t perfect. Unexpected problems pop up all the time. 

Don’t make it easy for your protagonist, either. In suspense writing, your readers might think they know the ending, but not how the protagonist gets there. Make the journey part of the adventure with unexpected twists and turns!

8. Amplify the Antagonist

In suspense writing, the bad guy is smart, motivated, and bound to make tons of trouble. Determine what your antagonist wants and what they’ll do to get it. Then, make sure their desires conflict with the protagonist’s own desires.

This conflict will help drive the story forward and create suspense.

Make your antagonist realistic. Otherwise, readers won’t believe (or fear) the bad guy. 

9. Heighten Heroics

The key to any great story is a compelling hero. Make your protagonist someone readers can connect with and care about. As a result, they’ll feel invested in the protagonist’s story.

Your protagonist and antagonist have parallel plotlines. You might not want to intersect these plotlines right away. Instead, leave readers to wonder how these plots will intersect within your story to create suspense.

10. Chapter Cliffhangers

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If you want to compel readers to flip the page, leave the chapter at a cliffhanger. Make readers wonder what will happen next. You can also leave these cliffhangers when the stakes are at their highest.

The more questions you raise, the more likely readers will continue forward to find the answers.

Count on a Cliffhanger: 10 Edge of Your Seat Suspense Writing Tips

Once you grab the reader’s interest, you need to work to keep it. Suspense writing keeps readers at the edge of their seats and wondering what will happen next. With these 10 tips, you can add a little suspense to your own writing and keep readers hungry for more.

Explore our latest Blogging posts for more writing tips and tricks!

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