Sunday, October 6, 2013

Two of my articles in Suspense Magazine

Available on Amazon in e-book or print
by Jodie Renner, editor, author, speaker

I'm pleased to share that Suspense Magazine has published two of my articles to date on various techniques for increasing the tension, suspense, and intrigue in your novel.

Here is the first third of an article of mine published in the August 2013 issue:

Adding Suspense, Tension and Intrigue to Your Story
by Jodie Renner
All genres of fiction, not just thrillers and action-adventures, need tension, suspense, and intrigue to keep readers eagerly turning the pages. And of course, you’ll need to ratchet up the tension and suspense a lot more if you’re writing a fast-paced, nail-biting page-turner.
Some “Big-Picture” Techniques for Adding Suspense:
~ First, make your readers care about your protagonist by creating a likeable, appealing, strong, smart and resourceful but vulnerable character, with some inner conflict. If readers haven’t bonded with your main character, they won’t care what happens to him or her.
~ Create a cunning, frightening villain. Your villain needs to be as clever, determined and resourceful as your protagonist – or even more so. Make him a serious force to be reckoned with!
~ Threaten your protagonist. Now that your readers care about your main character, insert a major threat or dilemma within the first chapter that won’t be resolved until the end. Create an over-riding sentence about this to keep in mind as you’re writing your story: Will (name) survive/stop/find/overcome (difficulty/threat)?
~ Establish a sense of urgency, a tense mood, and generally fast pacing. Unlike cozy mysteries and other more leisurely genres, thrillers and other suspense fiction generally need a tense mood and fast pacing throughout most of the novel, with short “breathers” in between the tensest scenes.
~ Show, don’t tell. Show all your critical scenes in real time, with action, reaction, and dialogue. Show your character’s inner feelings and physical and emotional reactions. Don’t have one character tell another about an important event or scene.
~ Use multiple viewpoints, especially that of the villain. For increased anxiety and suspense, get us into the head of your antagonist from time to time. This way the readers find out critical information the heroine doesn’t know, things we want to warn her about!
~ Keep the story momentum moving forward. Don’t get bogged down in backstory or exposition. Keep the action moving ahead, especially in the first chapter. Then work in background details and other info little by little, on an “as-needed” basis only, through dialogue or flashbacks.
~ Create a mood of unease by showing the main character feeling apprehensive about something or someone or by showing some of the bad guy’s thoughts and intentions.
~ Add in tough choices and moral dilemmas. Devise ongoing difficult decisions and inner conflict for your lead character. Besides making your plot more suspenseful, this will also make your protagonist more complex, vulnerable, and interesting.
... for the rest of this article, go to and purchase the August 2013 issue, which is full of excellent articles, many by bestselling authors! They also have some free issues available.
And here's about 1/3 to 1/2 of the second article of mine, published in the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue of Suspense Magazine. This one's on foreshadowing to create intrigue.
Amp up the Tension, Suspense, and Intrigue with Foreshadowing
by Jodie Renner
As you’re writing your thriller or other suspense novel, you want to be constantly thinking of ways to provoke reader curiosity and apprehension, so they keep anxiously turning the pages.
Foreshadowing is an excellent technique for adding suspense, especially for the first half of your novel, but it’s one that requires some planning (or backtracking later) and a bit of expertise to really be effective.
What is foreshadowing?
Foreshadowing is about dropping little clues about possible secrets, revelations, complications, and trouble to come. To pique the reader’s interest and keep her reading, hint at dangers lurking ahead. Foreshadowing incites curiosity, anticipation, and worry in the readers, and also prepares them somewhat for the possibility of later occurrences, so lends some credibility when the hinted-at event does occur.
For example, in the opening of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s still in Kansas, the transformation of Miss Gulch into a witch on a broomstick foreshadows her reappearance as Dorothy’s enemy in Oz.
Weave little hints in as you go along, but be subtle about it, and don’t give away the ending. If you make it obvious, it takes away the suspense and intrigue, along with the reader’s pleasure at trying to figure everything out.
Why is foreshadowing important?
Foreshadowing is a way of alerting readers to the possibility of upcoming critical events, of telling them to keep reading because some exciting developments are ahead.
Foreshadowing creates suspense. According to the dictionary, suspense is “a quality in a work of fiction that arouses excited expectation about what may happen.”
If you don’t foreshadow events and developments to come, readers will have no expectations, so no anticipation or worry. Foreshadowing stimulates curiosity and provides intrigue, increasing tension and suspense.
Also, if events and changes are foreshadowed, when they do occur, they seem more credible, not just a random act or something you suddenly decided to stick in there, especially if they’re unexpected. ...
How to use foreshadowing:
Use foreshadowing to lay the groundwork for future tension, to tantalize readers about upcoming critical scenes, confrontations or developments, major changes or reversals, character transformations, or secrets to be revealed.
Foreshadowing to add worry and increase reader engagement
Some ideas for foreshadowing:
Here are some of the ways you can foreshadow events or revelations in your story:
Show a pre-scene or mini-example of what happens in a big way later. The roads are icy and the car starts to skid but the driver manages to get it under control and continues driving, a little shaken and nervous. This initial near-miss plants worry in the reader’s mind. Then later a truck comes barreling toward him and... (or the icy road causes some other kind of accident).
The protagonist overhears snippets of conversation or gossip and tries to piece it all together, but it doesn’t all make sense until later.
Hint at shameful secrets or bad memories your protagonist has been hiding, trying to forget about.
For the rest of this article and many more top-notch articles, go to and subscribe to the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue.
For more tips on amping up the tension, suspense, and intrigue in your novel, see Jodie's book, Writing a Killer Thriller - An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction.
Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: WRITING A KILLER THRILLER and STYLE THAT SIZZLES & PACING FOR POWER (Silver Medalist in the FAPA Book Awards, 2013). Both titles are available in e-book and paperback.
For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.


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