Engaging Readers With Thrilling Tales

Engaging Readers With Thrilling Tales

Engaging Readers With Thrilling Tales

A great book is measured by how much reader engagement it procures. There are several ways to capture and retain the audience’s attention but one aspect that won’t fail if implemented wisely is suspense. introducing suspense and tension in your story compels the reader to turn to the next page to quench their curiosity.

Let’s look at the optimal techniques that can be used to maximise the impact of suspense and tension in your novel.

Techniques to increase suspense and tension and engage readers —
  1. Concrete objectives and high stakes
  • One of the best ways to build tension in a story is by establishing clear objectives for the plot and raising the stakes high. Doing so creates a sense of urgency because if the protagonist is to fail to achieve the goal, there is something important, like people’s lives, at risk. This technique drives the plot forward and makes the reader curious as to whether the protagonist achieves what he/she set out to do.

 

  • For example, let’s take the first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games. Right from the beginning, the author has established the final objective—only one tribute comes out of the arena alive. This makes the readers invested to know who the lucky survivor is.

 

  1. Foreshadowing and Clues

Angela Carter, a novelist, once said that anticipation is the greater part of pleasure. This applies when writing a book.

  • Effective implementation of foreshadowing and dropping clues in subtle ways creates an atmosphere of intrigue and anticipation. Foreshadowing is suggesting the possibility of something happening in the future and the author can opt to imply something dangerous might happen. Readers develop a tinge of anxiety that makes them want to read on to make sure their favourite character is unharmed.

 

  • Suspense is a huge part of any detective fiction and it would be apt to correlate with the most common trope in this genre when talking about clues. Many detective fiction novels start with a crime already committed or it is in the process of being committed. It is up to the protagonist to successfully catch the criminal. The clues that the author shares should be in such a way that the reader finds clues parallel to the detective and delineates the situation similarly. After all, there is a hidden detective in all of us!

 

  1. Pacing and timing
  • There should be a well-crafted balance between fast-paced action and slower, contemplative moments. An alternating narration allows the reader to soak up the events more efficiently. While Sherlock Holmes is a widely loved detective (fictitious, of course!), it is undeniable that the delineations he does are quite hard to keep up with. But when this is followed by a scene that involves revelations, introspection, etc., the readers can follow the plot and deduction with ease but also enough curiosity.

 

  • It is not always the action that builds the anticipation. It is the calm before the storm that everyone fears more. Strategic pauses, gripping cliffhangers, and surprising plot twists take readers on an exhilarating ride, intensifying their emotional journey.

 

  • Similarly, information should be revealed in a well times manner. If all the clues or answers are provided early on in the book, the readers would not find it interesting to finish the book. The reader must be invested to unravel mysteries slowly and only then can the book be successful.

 

  1. Unreliable characters
  • The element of thrill and suspense can be heightened with the help of unreliable characters and misdirection. This is a technique that will be extremely effective when writing from the perspective of a character with psychological problems. When the reader questions the credibility of the narrator, there is a great of tension that builds. It is a great way to increase reader engagement because they can not take any clue or aspect at face value. They would always be in doubt because the narrator is not a trustworthy one.

 

  • In Edgar Allan Poe’s renowned short story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the main character exhibits clear signs of psychosis. However, what intensifies the reader’s experience is the fact that he is the sole narrator of the story, creating a gripping sense of uncertainty that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

 

  1. Setting and plot
  • Like in any genre of fiction, the setting is one of the key elements of the plot. The author should research in detail and plan out the scenes and setting meticulously. Just like how flowers, warm lights and soft music makes the scene romantic, dark, cold, isolated places with haunting music create the maximum tension and suspense. This is why many authors choose abandoned warehouses or graveyards as a major place of action. Depending on the plot, the author can choose to isolate the victim to increase the sense of danger. Authors can employ imagery to engage all five senses of the readers.

 

  • Everybody loves an intense confrontation where the hero/heroine comes victorious. And if the author chooses to, it can be a tragedy too. But fundamentally, high-risk confrontations make the readers uneasy because they are curious to know who will emerge victorious. Such scenes should take up a good portion of the plot and emotionally impact the readers. Obstacles, fights or any other challenging situation will do well to catch and retain the audience’s attention.

 

Building suspense in a story requires the author to carefully map out the nitty-gritty details of the book. If each of the above techniques is employed wisely, then the readers are sure to be enthralled. A good book will definitely leave the reader anxiously waiting for each plot twist and surprise thrown at them.

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