How Does The Structure Of The Story Create Suspense & Tension? (6 Tips)

In this post, we briefly discuss a reader's question: How does the structure of the story create suspense and tension?

How Does The Structure Of The Story Create Suspense?

Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, claimed that to create suspense, one must simultaneously convey a sense of danger and a glimmer of hope that everything will turn out okay. In other words, a story must always be balanced between danger and escape.

Storytellers use tension and ambiguity to add intensity to stories in the form of suspense. Using uncertainty keeps the audience on edge and is the best way to pique interest and leave them wondering what's going to happen next.

We can create a story structure that holds uncertainty both in the face of the protagonist's options and in the face of their fears. Both will produce a threat that will increase suspense.

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6 Tips & Tricks to Create Suspense & Tension in a Story

You can create suspense by playing on the fears and anxieties of your characters. When you have your protagonist confront their fears, you are also making your audience confront their own fears as well. This can create inner tension and suspense over what will happen next.

You can force your main character to make impossible choices. This is have your audience sit at the edge of their seat, wondering what the protagonist will do next.

Dilemmas help create a lot of suspense. The character's choice, especially in a lose-lose situation, easily keeps the reader on their toes.

Tell the reader something the character doesn't know. Many writers use this method. They deliver snippets of information to the reader, which leads him to wonder about the position adopted by the character. This prophecy also allows him to foresee the dangers that could arise. The author then relies on anxiety and fear to induce suspense.

Use time constraints. Thrillers quickly resort to this kind of effect. They establish, for example, a race against time. The main character must reach his goal before a set date or time. A bomb will go off, or hostages will die if a ransom is not delivered in time. Tensions and suspense will be high.

Suspense can also come from an unpredictable situation. Nothing should be simple for your main character. Make his life difficult, put him in danger, cause him to lose some of his most precious possessions, be horrible to him. Remember that the action creates the reaction, which creates the effect.

Use cliffhangers. Tune in next time for 12 more ways that guarantee your story brings high tension and suspense that your audience will love.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.

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