Building suspense

file51e162f9801b1It’s really too early in the morning for my writing process, so I’m wasting my precious time procrastinating.

I just opened my WIP, and I was about to do a thing, when I realized the thing I was about to do would make a great lesson. I was about to add suspense to a paragraph.

Now suspense means holding events up to cause mental uncertainty. You can do this in very obvious ways, like ending each paragraph in a cliffhanger, but of course this kind of lewdness only leads to things like bestsellers. You can also do more subtle things, like moving important details to the end of a paragraph. This, of course, doesn’t cause a great deal of mental uncertainty, but it does land the pertinent details at the end of the paragraph, where the reader naturally pauses. This gives an extra millisecond or two to let that detail set in.

So, back to my story. Here is the original paragraph:

Lance turned off the screen and left the little viewing room.  As he stepped into the corridor, he nearly ran into two men who were walking by. Lance recognized one of them and nearly screamed, letting out a little “AH!” sound. He was wearing a white uniform with a gun on its belt, and he had grown a pencil-thin mustache, but he was definitely the same man. The other man was Ed Bennet, the station owner. He had aged since making the video, but it was him.

And here is my edit:

Lance turned off the screen and left the little viewing room.  As he walked into the corridor, he nearly collided with two men. One of them was Ed Bennet, the station owner. He had aged since making the video, but Lance could tell it was him. When Lance realized who the other man was, he nearly screamed, letting out a little “ah” sound. He wore a white uniform now, and he had grown a pencil-thin mustache, but he was definitely the same man, Lance’s guidance counselor, Raul del Rio. He wore a gun on his belt.

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