What makes for the best suspense novel and a riveting mystery drama? A master like Stephen King has been dazzling readers for decades with his uncanny ability to keep them glued to his stories. But what are the real secrets to creating suspense and tension?
I think that it starts with characters who are put into situations of uncertainty. I want to really get to know a character and imagine the nightmare situation he or she is in, so that I can feel the same sense of fear and desperation. When I can relate with someone who has to deal with and overcome insurmountable odds, it’s scary. I often ask myself what I would do if I was in the same situation.
In his book “The Shining,” King builds a story of a woman who is isolated, trapped, and in fear for her life. He also connects the reader with the character of her husband, who is slowly driven into madness. The story becomes a game of survival where the wife has to protect herself and her young child from his own father. I felt the morbid fear that this woman had and her complete sense of desperation, at the same time believing in the man’s total disconnection from reality.
The other key component of the best suspense novels are plot twists that are unforeseen and completely stun the reader. I don’t want a story to be predictable. I would rather be left guessing as to what will happen and reading from the edge of my seat. The best suspense writers use our intuition against us so that what we think will happen in a story is far from the truth and what actually does happen amazes and yet convinces us.
In my debut thriller novel, I use King as a model for story telling that brings the reader inside the mind of the lead character. I create a greedy, sociopathic woman who has a diabolical plan to murder her wealthy husband. She has crafted every detail so that when his car crashes over the mountainside in Colorado during a snowstorm, it will seem like an accident.
But when her husband’s body is not found in the car and he goes missing, the once fearless murderer and heartless hunter becomes the helpless prey. Trapped inside an isolated cabin in the snow, this woman takes the reader with her in her descent into madness. Could her seemingly innocent husband really have known all along about her plan to murder him, and plotted a revenge even more sinister? The reader will be left hanging, guessing, and using every ounce of their imagination. This is a story where nothing is quite as it seems and everything is uncertain until the final chapter. If you like riveting suspense and a true challenge of the mind, then this novel is for you.