From my friend, author Libby Fischer Hellmann…
So…. Imagine this. You invite your neighbor round for coffee. You don’t like them much, they’re kind of irritating, not really your type. But you start up a friendly conversation anyway. Nothing particularly revolutionary, elaborate or interesting. Just a pleasant, enjoyable chat.
So far, so dull.
While you’re chatting, you casually get a roll of duct tape out of the kitchen drawer. You know, the one you keep for fixing stuff around the house? You come back and tie your neighbor’s hands and feet against the chair. Then I want you to take out your .38 revolver from your closet– you know, the one you keep around the house for emergencies– release the cylinder, put one bullet in the gun. Just ONE. Then close it up.
Now I want you to put the gun against your neighbor’s head. Nothing should change. You will still have that pleasant, inconsequential conversation. Except for one thing. Once a minute, every minute, pull the trigger.
I guarantee you that conversation will be the most riveting, suspenseful conversation you and your neighbor will ever have.
Why? Because suspense isn’t so much what is happening, but what might happen. It’s a situation in which the outcome is in doubt. You’re asking questions not immediately answered. Posing posing a threat that isn’t being immediately resolved. Raising concerns that are not addressed. The longer you stretch those questions, the longer you delay, the longer you parcel out information without providing answers, the more suspense you generate.
Hopefully, you’ll learn more tomorrow evening, February 20, 2014, from me & authors Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, and Paul Levine in a lively Google+ Video “Hang Out”. You’ll see us live, on video, discussing the secrets of creating top suspense…and you can ask us questions, too.