Too Much Suspense

Do you think it’s possible for stories to have too much suspense?

So many stories these days are so loaded with suspense that it can be a little fatiguing. I think it actually has the opposite of the intended effect on me. When I get to the end of yet another cliffhanger chapter ending, instead of avidly turning the page, I can get to the point where I simply sigh and put the book down.

I guess this is a big reason I don’t like a lot of pulse-pounding urban fantasy. I need the characters to be able to take a little breather every now and then and indulge in a little character development. There has to be a careful balance.

The same goes for books that are just dripping in angst. So much bad stuff happens that I just need something–a small thing–to happen that is actually funny. I think it can really help. We have all this tension building, and I think a little moment of humor helps loosen up that tension just a little bit so the author can build it back up again. Moviemakers do this a lot. We have Bruce Willis, pulling glass out of his feet looking like a bloody wreck, yet the insults and wisecracks to Alan Rickman’s character never stops.

No story in particular inspired this post, but one story that did do a good job of breaking up the suspense was In Enemy Hands by K. S. Augustin. It has some erotic elements, but I found it extremely compelling and difficult to put down.

One Thought to “Too Much Suspense”

  1. Chicory

    According to `Writing the Breakout Novel’ one way to avoid too much suspense is to vary the kinds of tension. Like maybe instead of always having someone getting chased around by ninjas, there could be scenes where the hero’s arguing with his daughter about her curfew, with no ninjas in sight. It’s still tense, but it’s also a change of pace. I agree about humor being a great way to give your audience breathing room.

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