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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Twenty

Six Powerful Ways to Maintain Suspense

Keep Your Readers Captivated

Steven James

Thriller? Mystery? Literary fiction? It’s all the same: Building apprehension in the minds of your readers is one of the most effective keys to engaging them early in your novel and keeping them flipping pages late into the night.

Simply put, if you don’t hook your readers, they won’t get into the story. So if you don’t drive the story forward by making readers worry about your main character, they won’t have a reason to keep reading.

Think: Worry equals suspense.

The best part is, the secrets for ratcheting up the suspense are easy to implement. Here are six of the most effective.

1. PUT CHARACTERS THAT READERS CARE ABOUT IN JEOPARDY

Four factors ...

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