Creating Suspense  

Creating Suspense  

For exciting page-turners

In a previous Author Update, I commented on my recent attendance at Bouchercon-2023 in San Diego and noted the particular highlight for me of the opportunity to meet David Baldacci and listen to his comments. He’s recognized as a world-class storyteller with dozens of best-selling thriller and suspense novels, so I was interested in his approach to creating page-turners that keep readers coming back for more.

David Baldacci on cliffhangers, tension, and suspense

“Start with a scene that has a character doing something extraordinary that opens up lots of possibilities for both the writer and the reader. Don’t lose control to the reader who’s starts thinking, ‘I know where this is going. I could write it myself.’ Lead the reader to the obvious, then flip it. Small acts build tension. Introduce a shocking twist by page 50, another at page 80, then continue to surprise yourself until the end.”

I’ve been reflecting on suspense and how to create it in my own novels. I think my third published novel, MERGER MANIAC, is the best (so far) at sustaining tension and suspense. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think. If you’d like to read and review it, send me a note and I’ll provide a link to an e-book review copy.

Suspense is essential to holding the interest of any audience – for writing and movies, and for spectator sports. It is the unknown exciting conclusion to the story that attracts and holds the attention of the reader, viewer, or spectator. In sports like golf or tennis or car racing, it can be boring to watch until the unexpected happens, especially if the most feared outcomes happen – the easy shot missed, or the miraculous save, or the disastrous crash. As the risks rise and the surprising twists offer up new possibilities for success or failure, tension mounts and keeps the spectator watching and the reader reading. That’s what makes it a page turner!

Who do you think does it best? Any recommendations?

More author updates are coming, so please stay tuned in and signed up if you’re interested. I very much appreciate your time and attention and welcome any feedback, comments, or responses you may have for me. Please keep in touch.

Enjoy your reading and writing,


Del Chatterson

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram YouTube


No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment