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Unit 3 Suspense, surprise, climax

Suspense is a tense feeling in the reader caused by wondering what may happen; a sense of anticipation and curiosity about what the protagonist will do next.

Surprise is a feeling in the reader caused by something happening suddenly or unexpectedly.

Twist is a surprising change or development in a story.

Climax, or turning point, is the high point of interest or suspense in a story. It takes place when the reader experiences the greatest emotional response to a character’s problem, when the situation is such that the conflict must be resolved one way or another, or when a character starts to take a decisive action to end the conflict.

The point of no return is the point at which one becomes committed to an action or a decision that cannot be reversed, the point at which the outcome becomes inevitable.

How do authors create suspense?

  • Placing memorable characters in an evocative setting enables readers to see the world through the narrator’s eyes, envision the characters, smell the odours and hear the sounds.

  • Foreshadowing is an author’s use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in the story. Future events are merely hinted at through dialogue, description, or the attitudes and reactions of the characters.

  • Using premonitions is one more effective suspense trick. Authors let the reader know that something bad is going to happen.

  • Being unpredictable is a huge overall suspense technique and there are many ways authors employ it. They may ask a question and leave it hanging: “But why won’t his stepmother let him go in that back room?”. Another variation of this technique is letting a character, or many of them, lie. Also, any twist or surprise will throw the reader off-balance.

  • Providing the reader with information that the characters don’t have is another way to build suspense. By giving access to the story’s developments, the writer makes the reader see the trouble before the protagonist does.

  • Complicating matters and allowing bad things happen to good characters create tension too. Authors make nothing straight-forward for the protagonist. They pile on the problems, give the protagonist more things to do than s/he can handle.

  • Using time constraints is another key way to build suspense. The protagonist works against the clock, and the clock works for the bad guys.

  • Withholding information also builds suspense. Authors may hold back some elements of information and this creates mystery and tension.

  • Uncertainty of outcome is one more suspense trick. Writers end their scenes with some sort of a cliff-hanger (a contest whose outcome is uncertain till the end), especially as the story progresses toward its climax.

Tips

In the stories you are going to read,

  • find the most suspenseful moments;

  • try to detect the turning point;

  • look for specific techniques creating suspense.

Unit 4 Description

Description is saying in words what somebody or something is like; a picture in words. Descriptive writing vividly portrays a person, place, or thing in such a way that the reader can visualize the topic and enter into the writer’s experience.

Description appears almost everywhere. Take any best selling author from any period of time or from any genre, and you’ll find a finely balanced use of description in every case.

The general characteristics of descriptive writing include:

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