Suspense Sentence Structure Techniques


Adverb Start – You can set the tone and atmosphere by just simply describing how the verb is being completed

Suddenly, he lunged for the knife.

Preposition Start – Draws out the sentence to keep the reader waiting and follows a trail of settings or objects and makes the reader wonder what’s at the end.

Behind the front brick terrace houses, over the deep, murky trench of a river, lay the vast skeletal remains of the “temporary accommodations” where he was supposed to be. 

Short Sentences – Speeds up the pace and creates a sense of urgency and panic.

Not here. Not near me. Why does he want me? Why is he following me?

Long, flowing sentences – It can draw out the scene so the reader has to wait, can suggest that events are happening in quick succession and contrast well with short sentences.

Another sweeping glance to the window revealed that his stalker was still present, striding along in large steps as if not comfortable in his present bone structure with a hunched back – not quite bent double but well on its way like the snivelling, snarling wolf that he knew his stalker was under that false face.

Non-Sentence – Speed up the pace and action and can sometimes reveal critical details in a scene but MUST NOT BE OVERUSED because they are not grammatically correct and you might give the impression of not knowing how to write with grammar.

The pocket watch. Covered in blood there and covered in fine silks here; somebody was going to die.

The more… the more – Conveys a particular detail in a scene and its effect.

The more he fought, the more the eye drained his power.

If, if, if, then – Emphasises the small probability of an event happening.

If only she had been born a boy, if only she had been born second or third, if only she had been born ugly, then she would not have been sent to live in such a dismal manor caring for a the vile beast which she knew would not remain faithful.

Adjective, adjective – Emphasised a certain idea about a situation and the characters within it.

Carved lit jack-o-lanterns warned them away, lit to warn them away from the land of the living.

Fronted adverbial phrases – Builds tension by prolonging the wait to find out what’s happening and describes the setting.

Heartbeat fading and breath slowing, he slumped down onto the decaying railings. (double)

Heartbeat fading and breath slowing, light fading from his eyes, he slumped down onto the decaying railings. (triple)

Repetition – Creates atmosphere and builds tension by reminding the reader of a particular idea or object.

Emptiness resided in his eye sockets, emptiness resided in the chest cavity and emptiness resided in his coat pocket where the empty box was found.

Dash – Can replace the comma, tag on extra information and speed up the pace.

It was not the particular vision of what now seemed to “live” in his home but rather who had recently decided to move back in after 17 and a half years, all bright, fresh and young – his dead wife.

Colon – The reader has to wait for the sentence to end to get an answer and the emphasis put on by the colon exacerbates the effect of what is after the colon.

Nobody should have to live like that: lonely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.