Stories that make us ‘experience’ a moment within a scene comes from the creation of suspense when characters or events invite expectation from the reader, stimulating the desire to read on. Often several revised versions of a suspenseful moment might be necessary to achieve the desired effect to make the moment memorable for the reader, creating unease or anticipation. Feeling, seeing, perceiving and dreading imminent danger could be achieved through highly charged descriptive language and use of sensory imagery, which, when effectively done leads the reader to walk in the skin of the protagonist, seeing, feeling and breathing through the character’s eyes.
A voice recording of the suspenseful scene allows the writer to assess whether the desired effect – the light and shade have been achieved. This might lead to a reconsideration of how to enliven suspense in a scene. The first draft of such a scene most often requires several tweaks before the effect is achieved. The joy in crafting your stories is that you are in control, as the writer, to entertain the reader.
Listening to haunting or suspenseful music helps to centre the imagination in the creation of tension, suspense and anticipation.
Listen to this piece.
Try your hand at writing a brief scene that builds suspense.
Here is an example of a suspenseful moment:
‘The wind howled down the craggy cliff – jagged rocks stood like crooked fingers in erect, forbidding stance. Within minutes the sky was obscured by dark clouds – day turned to night as she cowered under the overhang of a precarious rock. Flapping batwings were heard overhead in their frenzied flight away from this rising calamity- a cold shudder gripped her.’ (MN)
Here is a snappier version of the moment- which example do you prefer?
‘The wind chilled the marrow of her being, her refuge beneath a dangling rock was her only protection – dark clouds curtained daylight as mounting, panicked flapping bat wings was heard overhead.’
What would you add, take away or recreate in such a moment where the protagonist is challenged, losing his or her grip on the situation?
Pop your visualisations/ideas of this moment in the comment box. I would love to read your versions of this moment or your own ideas. (MN)
This excerpt from an overview of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ has chilled many a reader at the thought of what lurked between the pages of this riveting book:
The town knew darkness…and the awful, heavy silence of terrifying images grotesquely dancing in and out of the shadows…
But no one living in Salem’s Lot dared talk about the high, sweet, evil laughter of …
Here are two brief excerpts from my novel, ‘Across Time and Space’
1). She knocked at the door.
It opened with the force of a heavy gust of wind. Meryl jumped away gasping. Framed in the light of the candelabra she held…chalky pale against her black head of hair left hanging about her shoulders…
2)….she awoke for the second time that night aware that she was not alone in this vast house beside the olive grove. …the silhouettes of two figures bending over were cast on the wall…
Try writing a suspenseful moment, use a piece of haunting music to beckon your muse forth!