It’s hard to create tension if your readers can sense that there are lines you won’t cross. Once they know that you won’t let anything really bad happen to “good” characters, most of the suspense drains out of what should be tense scenes. They know the sweet schoolteacher in the car crash will be okay, the deranged husband of the vulnerable young woman won’t actually kill her, and so on. How can you keep that from happening?
Last month, we started this series by talking about how old-school terrorists and suspense authors are the same in one important way: Like terrorists, we want to create uncertainty and tension that makes it impossible for our victims (er, readers) to focus on anything except what's going to happen next in the world we've created. Now we're going to start digging a little deeper to see what we writers can learn from the PLO and Baader-Meinhof gang.
A good terrorist introduces himself with something flashy and devastating, right? So does a good suspense writer.
I love a good suspense novel–the kind that grabs you with the first line, slowly tightens its grip for 400 pages, and doesn't let go until the very end. I've also written suspense since I was in high school, and now I even get paid for it.So when CAN invited me to join this blog, it was only natural to do a series of posts on suspense writing. The series is titled The Author as Terrorist because … well, keep reading and I'll explain.