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Tension & Suspense in Narrative

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Tracey Conyers

on 15 July 2015

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Transcript of Tension & Suspense in Narrative

Building Tension & Suspense in Narrative
photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
Talk to your partner
What is Tension & Suspense?
Tension is the driving force in fiction. It captures the attention of the audience and maintains their interest. It is what keeps the audience engaged and sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for what comes next. Without it, a story is flat and pointless.

In its most simple terms, tension is the gap between the protagonist and their goal. An author or dramatists role is to fill this gap with physical and emotionally tumultuous events illustrating how a character gets from one place to another, either physically or psychologically.
How to create tension and suspense

1. Use short sentences to build up the tension
2. Use ellipsis (…) to create the "What happens next?" moment!
3. Use simile and metaphor to describe
4. Using highly descriptive verbs, adverbs and adjectives
5. Refer to your handout for more hints
Listen to writer Malorie Blackman
talking about how she creates tension
in her writing
Now try creating suspenseful sentences with the following tense sentence openers

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye ...
My heart pounding in my chest, I thought I could hear ...
As the vast door of the Alien craft opened, I could feel ...
The floorboards groaned like a menacing beast. His heart pounded. His hands shook. Sweat poured. He could feel the eyes watching him from dark corners ...
Simile & Adjective
like a menacing beast
Short sentences
What happens next? The ellipsis creates excitement.
Eyes watched him from dark corners ...

4. Is there something hidden in the darkness? Can you keep your reader guessing about what is there ...

5. Use powerful verbs like crept, whispered, raced ...
His heart pounded. His hands shook. Sweat poured
Take a moment to consider this scene. Create a suspenseful paragraph using some of the techniques we have talked about so far.
- short sentences
- adjectives, verbs & adverbs
- ellipsis
- simile and metaphor
You are going to listen to a piece of music.
Try to create a suspenseful tale in your mind using
everything you have learned.
Short sentences to create tension. "Hearts pounded. Heads ached. Time ticked"
Use ellipsis to create a page-turning "What happens next?"
Similes and metaphors
Dark shadows. What is lurking, hidden? What strange sound was that?
Powerful verbs
Use all your senses.
Music used in WMM video composed by K MacLeod at http://incompetech.com (Constancy Part 2)
Moving Image used in WMM video from www.dreamscene.org

What hidden sounds can the crew of the space rocket hear?
How is the creature moving?
Full transcript