DIY Who Dunnits

DIY Who Dunnits

Read our full review of Bloodtree River

Words || Sarah Barrie

Crafting suspense-driven novels can be challenging, but there are a few steps to remember that will make the process much simpler. Below are some of the key points I utilize when writing stories, such as my recently released novel, Bloodtree River:

Make the reader care.

It is critical the reader quickly develops empathy for your hero/heroine. If the reader isn’t emotionally invested in your character, they’re not going to care what happens to them. Without that excited or anxious uncertainty, there is no suspense.

To achieve this, provide an early opportunity for your reader to see your character in a universally appealing light. This could be through, for example, an act of selflessness, courage, or kindness, or, as people love an underdog, present a character who is vulnerable, treated poorly, or trapped by events around them. This doesn’t mean they can’t be flawed or make mistakes. In fact, those traits/issues can go a long way to helping the reader identify with them. No reader is perfect, and no character should be.

Give the reader a reason to worry.

Danger is created when a character finds themselves at physical, mental, emotional or relational risk. To become involved in the story, your reader has to know the character’s greatest need, what’s standing in the way of them getting it and what terrible thing will happen if they fail. Once the reader understands this they’ll want them to succeed, so any obstacles the writer puts in their way will cause anxiety, creating suspense. The higher the stakes, the greater the suspense.

Start with some action

Aim to hook your readers from the first page. This scene could be the trigger point to the rest of the story (an event that changes the hero/heroine’s life forever), or an example of a daily struggle (hardship of some kind). This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your character and the danger that surrounds them, while showing them at their best and/or most vulnerable.

Develop the suspense.

Suspense should be raised incrementally from a niggle of worry until the reader can barely stand to read on. It’s important to remember that action is not suspense. Suspense is the tension that lies between the action. It’s the waiting for the next thing to happen. Once that next thing does happen, it creates a breather, a sense of relief for the reader, a release of tension. This can kill the suspense if not done carefully.

Only ever break tension when there is a greater underlying threat already in place, or when the event itself creates another, more serious threat. At no point prior to the resolution of the story should the reader feel that the hero/heroine is completely safe or that their needs have been fulfilled. As long as the character hasn’t achieved their most important goal, you can create a rollercoaster of successes and failures held together by unmet needs/desires.

The climax.

This is the most critical scene in the story, where the hero/heroine finally overcomes the greatest obstacle/threat to their happiness/wellbeing. This is what the reader has been waiting for and the payoff has to be worth the journey. The resolution of the climax is an emotional release from all the tension of the build-up, a reward for emotional investment. Don’t skimp. Make the reader feel good for having come on the journey. If you succeed, not only will the reader not want to put down your current book, they won’t be able to wait to pick up the next one.

Happy writing!

Purchase a copy of Bloodtree River

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                  Publisher details

                  Bloodtree River
                  Author
                  Sarah Barrie
                  Publisher
                  Harlequin
                  Genres
                  Fiction, Thriller
                  Released
                  23 April, 2018

                  Synopsis

                  Indiana O’Meara is no stranger to the forces of evil. Her own past is full of violence. Now a policewoman, Indy is always fighting to redeem herself and defeat the dark. So when girls begin to go missing at a remote cattle station in Tasmania, she is quick to agree to go undercover to investigate chief suspect, the owner of Calico Mountain Lodge, Logan Atherton, even though last time she went undercover it came to a bloody end.But her early encounter with Logan Atherton reveals a man full of contradictions. His deep empathy for horses and those he cares for is obvious but he is also taciturn to the point of rudeness, and there is a strange atmosphere at the lodge. It doesn’t add up.As Indy begins to dig deeper into the secrets at the Lodge, she finds herself embroiled in a murderous web more complex and terrifying than she could ever have imagined...
                  Sarah Barrie
                  About the author

                  Sarah Barrie

                  Sarah Barrie lives with her husband and children in a rural area on the Central Coast of NSW. She divides her time between writing, being a mum and her position as editor of an Australian equestrian magazine. When she finds a spare moment or two, she enjoys spending time with her Arabian horses and the various other animals that call the farm home. Though her writing career has traditionally revolved around producing articles for various publications, her true passion lies in fiction and she enjoys writing contemporary romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance.

                  Books by Sarah Barrie

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