A great way to maintain suspense in a story is to keep the reader asking questions. This will entice her to keep turning pages to see what happens next.
The Ark television series on the SyFy channel has an intriguing premise. Earth’s environment is ruined, and mankind seeks another viable planet to colonize. They send out an ark ship named Ark One. But along the way, something hits their ship. It awakens everyone from cryogenic sleep and they learn their command crew has perished.
Several questions arise at once:
What caused the disaster? Was it an impact like an asteroid, an attack, or sabotage?
Is there a saboteur on board?
Who killed the imposter posing as a crewman?
What did this fellow know about their acting captain’s past that she wants to keep hidden?
Did she murder him?
Whose influence got her on board at the last minute? What makes her so special?
Meanwhile, is anyone left on Earth? Did the other planned arks have time to lift off?
And the big question is – Will they survive?
Each time one question is answered, another disaster occurs that raises more questions.
In my Bad Hair Day series, once my main character fulfilled her basic story arc, I had to add new questions. At the end of Star Tangled Murder, book #18, a reader asked:
“With Dalton retired, is this dynamic duo hanging up their sleuthing shoes? Is Marla really going to be content working less and keeping her nose out of everyone else’s business? Will Dalton be happy with a life full of teaching, hobbies, and being a stay-at-home dad? I am very interested to see what the author has planned.”
See what we’ve done here? As soon as one set of questions is answered or a character arc is complete, you need to immediately insert more issues. Keep the reader guessing, not only about whodunit in the mystery but also about the main characters. The questions can be external, such as who attacked Ark One? Or they can be internal, such as what may be hidden in a character’s past that we need to know?Story Questions Raise Suspense in a Novel #plotting #amwriting Click To Tweet
Questions create suspense, and that’s what keeps readers turning pages.
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