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“I believe suspense drives all fiction, not only mystery,” says editor Helga Schier. “Unless we really are interested in what happens next, we won’t turn the pages.” Suspense, she explains, is the reader’s anticipation for what’s going to happen next in a story. There must first be tension in a story for a reader to care enough about what might happen next. To create tension and suspense, it’s important that plot events have consequences. Schier encourages writers to move past the mundane moments quickly to keep the pace interesting to readers. Raising the stakes on the major plot events will also create an emotional investment on the part of the reader. One way to do this is to put a “deadline” on a plot point. A race against time puts more pressure on plot and on characters, creating excitement for the reader. Another way is to create cliffhangers, says Schier. Watch the clip below to learn more about these strategies that will keep your readers turning the pages.
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