I don’t like suspense. I disdain horror, splatters, thrillers, mysteries, police procedurals, or almost any story where a character’s sole reason for existence is to serve as a dead body. As you might imagine, Stephen King and the authors of his ilk do not grace my TBR list. Watching any graphic displays in the form of movies or series has also been a hard “no” for me.
I found myself in a difficult situation. My hotel offers limited TV options. Reruns of Law and Order, CSI, Chicago PD, and their spin-offs, compete with the Weather Channel for my attention. Forced to view something, I created an intellectual challenge and decided to analyze and dissect the plotlines. To do this, I needed to reassure myself the program was imaginary, and people were not harmed during filming. The themes are designed to elicit intense emotions and heighten awareness. This made unfinished threads, and unsolved plots both memorable and annoying.
We are wired to solve problems, complete puzzles, and this propensity compels our focus. Confronted with tension, conflict, suspense, unresolved questions, and personal concerns, our brains drive us to act, even if the action is only to figure out “who done it” by the end of the show. It caused me to consider how I could use suspense to increase reader engagement and create a page-turner in my writing. Without a gratuitous corpse, of course.
Do you include suspense in your stories?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer