Creating suspense in a story is a favourite among my students. They find it so much easier to write about robbers, kidnappers and accidents than about birthday parties, a good deed or a happy day. In this article, I will talk about simple ways a student can create suspense in their stories.

How to create suspense in a story?

1. Setting

Create an eerie or deserted setting before introducing the characters or action

The once bustling streets of vendors hawking their wares was now replaced by the eerie silence.

2. Characters

Describe a character physically

All I could see were his eyes, beady and blood shot. He reached out for me menacingly, the tattoo of the spider inked across his bony arm

3. A scene

Describe a fight scene or when you are confronted by a robber/kidnapper etc

Example in Model Composition below.

4. Short sentences

Try using short sentences when describing suspenseful scenes

The incessant scratching sound grew louder. Panic rose in me, I started to breathe heavily

The composition below is written by my P6 student Alastair.

He joined my P5 class a year ago. He is a very bright boy but he wasn’t too keen on writing. He had difficulties stretching his story to more than a page and he only used basic descriptions and simple sentences.

I am of course, proud of what he has accomplished in his writing now. This composition was written in class within 50 minutes with 5 minutes of planning. Please take note of how he uses short sentences to create suspense in the beginning. As well as how the fight scene which is the main part of the story, moves in a logical, organised flow.

Primary Composition model: A Frightening Experience

Note to students

The model compositions in this blog are to help students generate ideas and to be used as a guide. Students are not allowed to copy the model compositions and then pass them off as their own work, especially in school. It is called plagiarism.

Pictures: A Knife, A Spider Tattoo. Handcuffs

I was hauled out of the interrogation room, kicking and screaming.

“I had to! He was going to kill me!”

I was thrust into my prison cell. The metal bars slammed shut and I was left in darkness.

“I had to do it.”

My friends shouted in unison in front of the slot machine when the picture of a strawberry appeared. One, two three! We cried out in joy as the Jackpot sign flashed in front of us. I could not believe my luck as I collected the million dollar cash cheque. I spotted someone eyeing me but so what? Everyone was looking at the winner.

After treating my friends to some champagne, we parted ways. Still clutching the bottle, I swayed and stumbled my way back home until I chanced upon a park. Sitting down on a nearby bench, I downed the rest of my champagne. That was when I felt something cold and hard pressed against the back of my neck.

The man whispered, “The cheque now.”

I produced the cheque from my pocket but he was still not satisfied. He tried to stab me but I leapt away nimbly. Using the champagne bottle as a weapon, I swung it menacingly at him but he bounded out of reach. I turned tail and fled, the bandit following closely behind. I was forced to run into an alley. That was when I discovered I had nowhere else to run.

The two of us traded blows. The bandit had managed to give me a few nasty cuts and blood was seeping into my clothes. I danced in and out of reach. I had learned to fight well since I was made to take fencing classes by my mother. Just then, the base of the champagne bottle shattered, revealing sharp edges of glass. I tripped him while he was trying to charge and jabbed at him menacingly in the arm. The bandit stared at me, eyes wide with fear. Knowing that I had the upper hand, I advanced with new found strength. When I jabbed his arm, he howled in agony and dropped the knife. Using this opportunity, I blindly shoved the champagne bottle into his face, disfiguring him. Then I gave the final blow as he crumpled to the ground. Crimson red blood smeared the ground, his body sprawled in an awkward manner.

Horrified at what I had done, I knelt on the ground, motionless. I heard the distinct wail of the police sirens. I stared at the vile specimen when I felt a pair of strong arms grab me, pulling my arms to the back of my body and handcuffing me. With arms twisted awkwardly, I was shoved at the back of a police car. The doors slammed shut.

“I had to do it,” I whispered to myself. No matter what would happen to me next, this terrifying incident would scar me for life.

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