Best Suspense Books

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Define Suspense

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Define Suspense – What is Kevin’s definition?

Hello…it’s me, Kevin here…

Today, I’m talking about how I define suspense.

Let’s get started…

A professional suspense novel writer is in great demand among novelists today. If you want a good definition for the word suspense, then keep reading.

Suspense is a writing technique, that’s based on the psychological principle called the “Zeigarnik Effect,” which states that people remember unfinished tasks better than the finished ones.

  • Sometimes, a suspense novel writer is confused with a writer of mystery or a thriller novel.

Though this belief is not totally wrong, critics often tend to differentiate mystery or thriller novels from suspense books based on the different techniques used in writing them.

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One may observe that, in a mystery, the crime takes place at the beginning…whereas in a thriller, if there is a crime, it more often happens at the end.

  • However, the line separating the writers of these novels is very thin and often absent.

Historically, suspense novel writers were always laughed at by writers of other genres. They argued that, while a suspense novel writer writes about the most shocking consequences of negative emotions, they only concern themselves with the “way” and not with the psychological and social aspects involved in the crime.

  • Suspense novel writers were also severely criticized for their dispassionate narration of the crime.
  • But most writers now make it a point to discuss the underlying psychological facts and principles which resulted in a crime.

Define Suspense


A suspense novel writer does not write mysteries, although some writers will cross genres. Unlike a mystery novel, in a suspense novel, the writer answers the basic questions such as the nature of the crime (if any), who did it, how, why and when.

  • The suspense novel writer creates and maintains suspense or the tension by arriving at an expected climax in an unexpected manner.

In order to achieve this, early Greek writers used a technique called ‘Deus ex machina‘ (god out of the machine). Using this technique, they resolved seemingly impossible problems introducing a new character or ability or an event.

Euripides and Aeschylus were famous for using this concept in their works. However, Aristotle slammed this literary device in “Poetics,” stating that the resolution of the central conflict should be a consequence of the events preceding the climax and with the help of the characters which are defined earlier in the novel.

Although suspense is a common element in all genres, including romance, a suspense novel writer’s ability to challenge the reader’s intellect and invoke his curiosity using the twists and turns and also compel the reader to be involved at an emotional level in order to make the impact real.

As such, the ability to dissect the character and mindset of a character in a gripping way is essential for a suspense novel writer.

The first half usually creates tension in the reader by showing the unknown and often violent side of a rather bland character and the consequences of this violence and introducing the protagonist who does not at first seem all powerful.

A suspense novel writer’s success lies in the manner in which the writer unfolds the second half of the story. Since this involves the ultimate showdown between the hero and the villain, it needs to be constructed in a very unpredictable manner.

Would you like a great example of one of the best selling mystery authors and  Top 10 Mystery Books?

Click here to see one of the best suspense thriller books.

As always, thanks for taking the time to discover more about suspense. Please feel free to add your questions or comments below…have a great day!



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