September 2020

Suspense


Suspense, defined as "a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen," is the engine that drives all fiction. From fairy tales (will Cinderella make it home from the ball?) to ancient classics (will Penelope remain faithful to Odysseus?) no story exists without its question, its narrative thrust. But why? Why do we care, why do we have a drive to know what happens? After all, by definition the characters in fiction, like the story, aren't real, and what happens to them doesn't actually matter. And how? What are the tools writers use to create suspense, to keep up us late into the night concerned about characters who aren't real? This session will explore some of these questions. We'll look at what suspense is, how it works, how a writer can build it in various ways. We'll discuss examples and attendees will have time to ask questions.

Event Materials

Suspense, with SJ Rozan

Suspense, defined as "a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen," is the engine that drives all fiction. But why do we have a drive to know what happens? After all, by definition the characters in fiction, like the story, aren't real, and what happens to them doesn't actually matter. What are the tools writers use to create suspense? We'll look at what suspense is, how it works, how a writer can build it in various ways. 1 hr, 18 min.

About Lecturer

About SJ Rozan

SJ Rozan is the author of sixteen novels and more than seventy-five short stories, and the editor of two anthologies. She has won multiple awards, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, Macavity; Japanese Maltese Falcon; and the Private Eye Writers of America Life Achievement Award. SJ has been Guest of Honor at various crime writers' conventions. She speaks and lectures lectures widely, at such venues as the 92nd Street Y and the Center for Fiction, and has been a Master Artist at The Atlantic Center for the Arts and Writer-in-Residence at Singapore Management University. She teaches in the summers at Art Workshop International in Assisi, Italy. SJ was born in the Bronx and lives in lower Manhattan. Find her on the web at http://sjrozan.net/. Photo credit: Charles Kreloff