This site is English – get used to it…

How to write a novel | suspense

Junction 10 M6 Motorway

If you’re following my story of the love-hate relationship between Nick and Lily, you’ll know that they have travelled in the camper van to Shropshire and Nick has been taken on as an assistant gardener working at a big house. The Lord of the Manor is Mr Knight, the antagonist in our story.

We can introduce suspense into any story. The reader will be intrigued about what will happen to the protagonist and other characters. The intrigue in a crime thriller could be about putting the characters in danger. Will they survive? Will they be injured? We want the reader to ask questions. We can be hurt emotionally as well as physically and a romance is often about emotional pain.

I have Victoria flirting with Nick and making Lily jealous and the older and more experienced Mr Knight flirting with Lily. I really need a first name for Mr Knight, something that says something about his character. He is cynical and driven by greed. He sees what he wants and goes out to get it, that’s how he became rich.

“Why don’t you all come to dinner this evening?” Mr Knight suddenly asked turning to Nick.

“Yes, why not?” Nick fumbled as he spoke.

“That would be great, something for us all to dress up for!” Vicky said enthusiastically.

“I’m not sure if I have something to wear,” Lily said glancing at each of them in turn.

“You always look gorgeous, whatever you wear.” Mr Knight replied moving closer and giving Lily all of his attention.

“That’s settled then, come at 8!” Mr Knight announced turning away from Lily, having teased her for just a minute.

In a few lines of dialogue we can set the scene for a dinner party. We can make the characters sound nervous, excited or confident and quite abrupt like Mr Knight. Getting the mood of the moment and the emotions of the characters across to the reader requires descriptions, often added to the dialogue that describes not just what they say, but how they say it.

There can be an interlude after I have had Mr Knight make the invitation, so the story can go off in a more mundane direction. Perhaps with a little about Nick getting involved in doing the garden, giving the reader time to wonder what will happen at this dinner party. There can be a build up to the dinner party that tell of the nervousness of the guests who are getting ready to go up to the big house as Mr Knight’s guests for the evening. The anticipation might produce nervousness for Nick, excitement for Lily and Victoria could see it as an opportunity to get to know Nick better if Mr Knight leads Lily astray.

We have to tease the reader, so they will be intrigued and want to read the next page, the next chapter and then read until the end. We have to create suspense. The reader will have questions of their own. They will be wondering about all the characters, but they are likely to identify with one in particular and so we have to make them all intriguing. We can make Mr Knight the antagonist, the bad guy of our story. Then when our readers are beginning to really dislike him, give them a hint as to why he’s such a unsavoury character. Perhaps a conversation between him and Lily could reveal some dark secret from his past; more suspense and intrigue!

I hope from this series of articles, you are getting some idea of how to build the story. The story is about people and to a lesser extent places. It’s about the human condition, it’s about emotions. The reader isn’t really interested in who Mr Knight’s sister is, she isn’t part of the story. What they have for dinner is unimportant, unless it has a bearing on the story. Don’t bore the reader with trivia, tease and excite them with suspense!

There are more amazing blog on the home page. Please comment. Can you think of a first name for Mr Knight?


5 responses

  1. Pingback: Another week of creativity « Mike10613's Blog

  2. Pingback: How to write a novel | comedy dialogue « Mike10613's Blog

  3. Pingback: How to write a novel | Writers block « Mike10613's Blog

  4. Pingback: How to write a novel | creating a mood « Mike10613's Blog

  5. Pingback: How to write a novel | antagonism « Mike10613's Blog

Please share your thoughts here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s