Tips For Suspense and Mystery Writers

16 May

003Welcome back my friends.  It is May 16, 2013 and a bit of a cloudy day here in Olympia, a perfect day to write.

Today’s topic is mystery and suspense….or is that two topics?  Whatever!  I would estimate that 75% of the novels I read are mysteries or suspense.  I love the plots and sub-plots. I love the twists and turns and yes, I love to try and figure it all out before the end.

I think, often times, that mystery and suspense are used as synonyms, but I really don’t think they are.  A mystery is a “who dunnit” or a “what happened” type of book, where a suspense novel may be part who dunnit but it concentrates mostly on building tension throughout the novel.  In a suspense novel, you may very well know who dunnit, and you may know why they dunnit, but the suspense keeps building.

When I think of suspense I think of the Bourne novels.  Those were hold-onto-your-seats novels where you never knew when the next surprise was going to happen.

Consider this quote of the day:


The rules of suspense are that you do know, and you just don’t know when. In the Hitchcock rules of suspense, you are supposed to know that there is a bomb on the bus that might blow up, and then it becomes very tense – but if you don’t know that there’s a bomb and it just blows up, then it’s just a surprise.
Gus Van Sant

Build dramatic tension by making the ordinary seem menacing.  Hitchcock was a master of it in his movies.  Stephen King has shown that ability at times, as has Dean Koontz.  I’m reading a book right now by an author named F. Paul Wilson, who has fashioned a suspenseful mystery mixed with fantasy mixed with science fiction.  The reason I mention him is because he does a great job of making the ordinary seem menacing.  Things are not as they appear to be, so you can never really relax while reading his work….you want to keep turning the page.

And isn’t that what we all want as writers, for the reader to be so engrossed in our work that they are eager to turn the page?


The Chanticleer Suspense Writing Contest is accepting submissions now with a deadline of July 1, 2013. You can find it here.


Mystery Writers of America is an interesting site.  They combine suspense and mystery and it might be worth a look.  You can find it here.



Anything?  Does this picture make anything in your mind click?  Come on…try harder….feel the picture….smell the picture….hear the picture. 🙂


Thanks for dropping by. I’ll have more for you tomorrow and then, as is my norm, I will take the weekend off and join you again on Monday.

As I have stated before, this site is for you.  If you have any suggestions feel free to include them in the comment section and I’ll see what I can do to satisfy you.  I want you happy so that you will return.

Until tomorrow, remember that your name is your brand….get out there and promote your brand.


12 Responses to “Tips For Suspense and Mystery Writers”

  1. Janine Huldie May 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Wow, can not believe the weekend is almost here again and like you looking forward to taking off a bit for it again. The clothesline picture, by the way, reminded me of being a kid growing up in Queens in the summertime, when my mom used to hang the clothes out to dry in our backyard. We totally had a clothesline and can so still picture it!! Thanks for the memories, Bill!! Enjoy your day my friend!!

    • Billybuc May 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      Hey Janine! Well, we still have a clothesline and I love the smell of clothes after they have dried on the line. Thanks for stopping by…time flies, doesn’t it? 🙂

  2. Clear-eyed Sky May 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Gotta get started on some laundry. 😀

    • Billybuc May 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      LOL…Lizzy, I love you…good luck with that laundry and thanks for stopping by.

  3. pictimilitude May 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Great post – I am really liking the new format, writing prompts and inspirations. Thank you!

    • Billybuc May 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      Thanks Cyndi! I’m having fun writing it. 🙂

  4. hawaiianodysseus May 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Hi, Bill!
    In response to something you mentioned in the comments section elsewhere this morning, I wanted to ask you if you’ve created your own eBooks yet. The reason I ask, and in keeping with what you’ve been teaching us about our personal brand, I am super confident that your eBooks would do very well on eBay. Food for thought?

    Aloha, my friend!


    • Billybuc May 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      Joe, I do have a few ebooks floating around, and to be honest, I never thought of ebay for them. What a great idea. Thank you my friend and I will look into that.



  5. BNadyn May 16, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    It’s such a coincidence you talked about mystery & suspense today as I’ve recently taken an interest in reading those types of books. We have a Dean Kuntz book on our book club list and I’m excited to read his work since I never have. This week sure has gone by quick and the photo reminds me I still have a ton of clothes to wash!

    • Billybuc May 16, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      I actually love Dean Kuntz….he is one of the best suspense writers in my opinion.

      Thanks for the visit…now get busy on that laundry. 🙂

  6. Kathryn Stratford May 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    I have missed a few of your posts, Bill! I need to catch up!
    My book-in-progress is a suspense novel (or I would like to think so), and this is a great topic for me to read.
    As for the photo, there’s something so comfortable and cozy about seeing clothes on a line, hanging out to dry. I always like your photo prompts.
    I found out I have more time this weekend than I thought, when my boss told me that my store has gone over on hours, and I “get” to stay home tomorrow! Well, my paycheck will be smaller, but I’ll have time to whip up one of the three articles that has been gnawing at me lately! Maybe even more than one! Hey, a long weekend won’t hurt me any 🙂
    Do you mean Dean Koontz? I have read some of his novels, although not for a while. I love suspense and mysteries both!
    Have a great day.

    • Billybuc May 17, 2013 at 12:01 am #

      LOL…Kathryn, I think I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that I was spelling that wrong, but I got lazy and forgot to check the spelling. Yes, I meant Koontz….thank you and I’ll correct it now.

      As for your day off, enjoy! I hope it is productive and relaxing my friend.

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