Suspense is defined as an excitement that one feels while waiting to find out what has happened and what will happen next. The element of suspense arouses the curiosity of readers and keeps them engrossed in the story. Human beings by nature are eager to discover the hidden secrets of the unknown phenomenon existing around them. Suspense, thrill, mystery and adventure tempt the readers and maintain their interest in the novel or drama they read till end.
Suspense actually includes those factors that are the components of a melodrama. Thus it has its links with horror, mystery, terror and fear as well. All these elements go side by side in any piece of writing that can be termed as a melodrama.
Different writers use different tools to create suspense in their writings. It mostly depends on their imagination and how they express their thoughts as means of communication to their readers. In other words each writer has his own style of creating suspense depending upon the plot in his novel.
The first element of suspense in a story is created by introducing a mysterious plot that makes events complicated for the main characters. The story starts with excited events like murder, kidnapping, robbery, accident etc. They are trapped in a series of unexpected events that arouse a lot of question in the minds of the readers and to find answers to these questions they prefer reading the story in one sitting. The author gives a lot of twists and turns to the events developing the plot. Each time the readers are startled by the sudden and unexpected change of events and this prompts them to follow the author’s trail of creating suspense. They are eager to know that how the problems would resolve and the different characters will reach their destination. In the story “Heat Lightning,” by Robert.F. Carro, suspense is created in the same manner as the girl running away from the killer identified him only in the end. The readers anxiously read the story to find out who is the killer.
The second element is that of specifying the time factor. Most of the suspense stories are set in a specific time span expending to a night, fortnight, a period of vacation etc. It sets a limited time for the characters to attain their goals before it’s too late. This is a vital tool used by the writers to create suspense. It is the same technique used to take the readers to the heights of thrill and adventure. It creates climax of the story.
The third element is the setting of the story. Create a dangerous environment that brings tension and worries for the main characters. They must be entangled by danger and fear of the enemy mostly a villain. Let them be isolated from others. There must be some dreadful encounter with the enemy. This arouses questions like, “what should the hero do to come out of a terrible situation?”
This is how we can develop even a simple plot into a unique one that indulges the readers in the story and maintains their interest.