Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Suspense?

The first suspense story I remember reading was The Cat in the Hat. What? You don’t think it was a suspense story? But, but…didn’t you wonder how much he could stack on his head? Weren’t you on the edge of your seat just knowing that eventually it would all topple over? It was only a matter of time, after all.

Random House Dictionary describes suspense as “a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement, as in awaiting a decision or outcome, usually accompanied by a degree of apprehension or anxiety.” Now tell me you weren’t awaiting the outcome with a bit of apprehension. Of course, if you never got to experience The Cat in the Hat as a small child, you are probably laughing at me, but that’s okay. You just don’t know what you were missing. :P

Since that time many moons ago, my tastes have become a bit more refined. I enjoy an eclectic interest in genres from a good, clean romance to a touch of sci-fi to a Midwest, small town drama (via my critique partner! Hi, Cathy!). But, ah…there’s nothing like a good suspense novel to have me cuddled up in a blanket, sipping hot chocolate and soaking up every word, emotion, and plot twist.

So, what does it take to be a suspense writer? What makes us standout from other novelists? Is it exploring the depths of our masochistic minds? Is it our knack for taking the worst situation we can imagine, and finding that one way to make it that much intense?

In Stephen King’s “Storm of the Century”, we have what the title hints at, the worst storm in a small town’s history. Throw in a slew of missing people throughout the night and we now have a terrifying mystery to go along with the worst storm ever. In Ted Dekker’s novel, “Kiss”, the heroine loses her memory. What can be worse than not knowing who you are? Finding out that you have a huge secret that could destroy your family…or running from an unknown killer?

Suspense is full of plot twists that keeps the readers on their toes, characters that win their hearts, and the sense of waiting for the next shoe to drop…all in good time.

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