Writer's Blog

How to write psychological suspense.

November 28, 2019
How to write psychological suspense.

Psychological suspense is the curtain to unreliable narrators. To write suspense, it takes more than the crime or the incident to happen. So here are a few tips on how to write psychological suspense.


The main character needs a goal


The first tip on how to write psychological suspense. In the creative writing class I took, it was called the character to have a desire. Each character no matter the genre needs a desire- a goal to achieve. It could be your character who wants to kill someone, a boyfriend who hurt your MC’s sister, for example. Give your character something, she can be likeable or unlikable but her journey, the inner dialogue has to be interesting. 


The villain needs a Goal


The villain in thrillers can be anyone, and you get away with almost everything. Thrillers are chilling and dark and not for everyone, so you want the sweet grandma who protects the neighbourhood by killing her neighbours? Kindly proceed, make sure the villain, like the main character, has a goal. 

How to write psychological suspense.

Everyone is a suspect and I mean everyone.


Yes, including your main character. Anyone could have held the candlestick when there was a murder at the dinner party. It’s a matter of who had done it? And Why?



Don’t trick the readers.


Don’t treat your readers like fools although, you can keep them on the edge of their seats. Don’t create a roller coaster, don’t include new information only, not be addressed at the end. Create a puzzle for them, let them think they have solved the mystery. Then, enters the plot twist.


Include a break with a subplot or a backstory.


And the last tip on how to write psychological suspense. Thrillers are fast-paced, at least usually they are, but not always. My debut novel In Her Words wasn’t what I can call fast-paced. It takes a while for the action to start, but I knew of this because I wrote it from a diary point of view. I needed a lot of build-ups before it reached its climax. It wasn’t for everyone, but it was necessary for the story. If you feel your novel is moving too fast, add a back story or a subplot to slow things a bit.


Happy writing and Reading xx


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