Suspense – Creating a sense of fear

writers notes
writing, notes for stories
How do you create a sense of fear when writing a story? Is it a case of fast pace? Unpredictability? Peril? According to my daughter, suspense is, to her, when you know something is going to happen but you don’t know what. For me, it’s the build up to an event, so pretty similar in definition to what my daughter suggested. That knowledge that something is coming, that the person you’re following in their story, has no idea what’s coming. Wondering if they’re going to get out of it, wondering if they’re going to survive, or not get caught, or similar.

For a giggle and a practice, I’ll be sharing a few of my first attempts at writing something with a little suspense.

For this I will be using some prompts I found on Here’s the first one:


(I have deleted and rewritten this several times…)

Feet pounded the ground behind him, they were gaining on him. He pushed himself, running harder and faster than ever before, still those feet thundered along, never falling behind. The leaves and branches whipped him in the face and hands as he fled, arms out before him trying to lessen their blows. The ground below his like a swamp as he desperately ran on, squelching and sliding away from him. It took everything he had to keep from falling into the mulch, all he’d learnt about breathing and running techniques meant nothing to him now.  There was no way of knowing if this was a good direction or if he was running at something far worse. Just then a gust of wind came up behind him, pushing him along as if the gods themselves were willing him to live, to survive this, whatever it was. But on it, it carried a laugh, it made him sick to his stomach. Or perhaps that was whatever they’d knocked him out with, either way he did not have time to be ill. Don’t be sick, don’t be sick, don’t be sick he chanted as he ran, attempting to maintain balance as the ground began to drop off downwards. His body ignored his panicked requests, first his mouth began to water, metallic in taste as it rushed into his mouth, and then his stomach lurched. He was going to vomit, and stopping was not an option. The laughter came again, this time it was joined by others, and they were closer than ever. Still he ran, pain creeping up his legs, his body sabotaging his efforts to escape. The thundering was closing in on him now, these were not feet, not human feet he could hear. Panic surged through him, tears streamed across his face, forced off their usual course by the wind as he ran. A new dose of adrenaline rushed through him with as he realised what the noise was. Hooves. Those were hooves. How the hell was he supposed to outrun horses?! The urge to vomit was forgotten, as was the pain in his legs, he was not going to die here! The ground beneath him became steeper, the leaves slipping out from under his feet as they crashed down in the foliage. First one foot slipped out to the side, his body threatening to throw him off course, then the other, this time he did slip. But he didn’t fall, regaining his balance as he continued on down the hill, he attempted a glance behind him. The horses seemed further away, but despite the chorus ringing out from his limbs, he dare not stop. He didn’t stop until he broke free of the trees, collapsing and skidding to a grinding halt at the side of a busy road. Car horns blaring as they passed him by, screaming their annoyance at his sudden appearance. He climbed to his feet, astonished by what he saw. He knew this road, he’d driven along on his way to a job interview, in what seemed like a life time ago. His hands on his head he tried to remember some more, had he even made the interview? What was it even for?


Sorry that’s all I have for this one, I will attempt another soon, but if you have any tips, do let me know 🙂 Show me your attempts at creating suspense.

Published by Michelle Quinton

Mum, wife, perpetual student, freelance writer, weight loss coach, artist and occasionally model. I love to try new things, I love to write and I love studying and researching. Never thought I'd see the day that studying became something I enjoyed, but here we are. My blog is where I put my thoughts, I also plan to start a blog of short stories, with a new prompt for each story.

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