Emma had always been a storyteller. Not a writer, mind you, but someone who knew how to spin a tale. Be it recounting her day to her friends over dinner or sharing anecdotes with her colleagues during lunch breaks, she had a knack for keeping her audience hanging onto her every word.
One evening, while she was narrating a particularly thrilling story about her misadventures during a recent hiking trip, her friend Lucas, an aspiring writer, asked, “Emma, how do you always manage to keep us so engrossed?”
Smiling, Emma leaned in and whispered, “It’s all about creating suspense.”
Lucas, curious, urged her to go on. What followed was a masterclass in suspense-building that would benefit not just writers but anyone aiming to make their stories more compelling.
“First,” Emma began, “always give a hint of something that’s yet to come. Like breadcrumbs in a forest, drop little clues, but don’t reveal everything at once.” It could be as simple as saying, ‘You won’t believe what happened next,’ or ‘I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.’
She continued, “Next, always remember the power of pacing. Stretch out the important moments. Describe them in detail. For instance, if I were talking about the moment I lost my footing on the hike, I’d describe how the gravel felt under my boot, the sudden rush of wind, the way my heart raced.”
Lucas listened intently, scribbling down notes as Emma spoke.
“Another important tip,” Emma added, “is to play with emotions. Let your audience feel the protagonist’s fear, hope, excitement, or trepidation. Put them in the shoes of the main character. Like when I was hiking, and I thought I heard a rustling behind me. I didn’t just hear it; I felt a shiver down my spine, my palms grew sweaty, and every noise seemed amplified.”
The beauty of these techniques, Emma highlighted, was that they weren’t restricted to written stories. They could be used in everyday conversations, making even mundane tales come alive. For example, while talking about a missed bus, one could build suspense around the feeling of seeing the bus pull away, the sinking realization of being late, and the unexpected events that followed.
Lucas, realizing the goldmine of information he’d stumbled upon, asked, “But what if the story doesn’t have a dramatic climax?”
Emma grinned, “That’s the beauty of suspense. The climax doesn’t always have to be explosive. The build-up, the journey is often more exciting than the destination. It’s about the ride, not the finish line.”
By the end of the evening, Lucas had a fresh perspective on storytelling. It wasn’t about grand plots or dramatic twists; it was about the emotion, the pacing, and the artful creation of suspense.
So, the next time you’re sharing a story, whether it’s about a thrilling adventure or a trip to the grocery store, remember Emma’s tips. By weaving in suspense, you can transform even the simplest tales into epic sagas, keeping your listeners or readers on the edge of their seats, waiting eagerly for what comes next.