Three Ways To Create Suspense in Your Storytelling

By Playing The Game of ‘And Then What Happened?’ … Suspense Tells The Story …


No matter what type of story you’re telling, Suspense is a valuable tool for keeping your audience’s attention and interest. Suspense involves raising a question that your audience wants answered.


You will need to have multiple subplots to engage your audience throughout your story, but the central storyline question that’s going to keep your audience engaged is: And Then What Happened? There is an implicit promise that you will answer this question (at varying paces), but in order to sustain interest, you must continue to raise this question. And Then What Happened? is a game that will drive your story forward. 



Suspense is often defined as high stakes, but you don’t need a ticking bomb to create high stakes. Whatever the stakes are, they need to be high for your protagonist.

Your job as a storyteller is to get your character from point A to point B. Your character doesn’t have to be saving the world, but you have to get them there in the most interesting way possible. If you get them there by a straight line, that’s a pretty boring story. If you get them there by putting obstacles in the way, that requires going down unknown paths, which requires some bravery, then your story becomes more interesting. It’s not about finding out about that one big explosive moment. It’s about how are you going to make your character move through the difficult moments encountered on those new terrains. 

The Three Ways To Create Suspense in Your Storytelling that will help you in taking your audience on an And Then What Happened journey:

  1. Create a promise at every turning point in your story: When you take your audience on an And Then What Happened journey, any question you’ve raised contains a promise that you’ll answer it.
  2. Use flashbacks to open the turning points along your as new sources of suspense for the And Then What Happened journey you’re taking your audience on.
  3. Use internal monologue to heighten tension. Sharing your worries and concerns will draw your audience in. Their thoughts and feelings can create apprehension and set a mood of anticipation as you take them on an And Then What Happened journey.

In this lesson, you will learn the Art of Crafting your … Suspense Story …

That’s important because, as Dan Browne shared in his:

Words of Wisdom

“Suspense is all about making promises. It’s about telling a reader, “I know something you don’t know. And I promise, if you turn the page, I’m going to tell you.”

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Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.