Friday, March 10, 2017

Ten ways to add mystery and suspense in your writing

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There are several tools writers use to create the suspense that pulls a reader into a story and makes them want to follow our protagonist on his or her journey. Today, I thought I'd share ten techniques sure to help you add intrigue and mystery to your writing.

1. Get your characters in trouble! Be ruthless. Think of the worst thing that could happen to them and let them figure out a solution.

2. Let your character take the easy way out of a situation only to find that he's made matters worse, or that he just survived the calm before the storm.

3. Do a slow reveal or include a familiar item that keeps showing up.

4. Allow the reader to know something the main character doesn't.  If the reader knows that there is a lion behind the door our beloved main character so desperately wants to open the reader will be holding his or her breath each time that character gets close to the door.

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5. Create a deadline: countdown to D-day.

6. Build anxiety by using short clipped sentences. Introduce doubt or have a plan fall through.

7. Let your character get close to what she's been hoping for—maybe the first kiss with the totally hot guy—and then the moment slips away or all hell breaks loose.

8. Add intriguing chapter titles.

9. End each chapter in a way that keeps the reader from inserting a bookmark.
10. Cut the action early, forcing the reader to worry about what's going to happen next.

The next time you're writing, give one or more of these techniques a try!

Share your tips in the comments. :)


  1. I've used many of those. Not chapter titles though, as I don't name mine.

    1. I have them for my series and think it adds a nice teaser of what's to come.

  2. These are all great tips to help build mystery and suspense. I always have to go against my nature when I'm writing and harm my favorite people. Hard work.

    1. I know what you mean. It's hard from me to be mean too.

  3. Agreed on all fronts! This is a pretty comprehensive list. Nicely done!

  4. These are great tips! Thanks for this post.