Suspense. Mystery. Two key points for any best-seller book. Suspense and mystery are what enthrall your reader, making him believe that there is something to find out, something they must discover.
However, we’ve all read books where this is so poorly executed, that it turns out to be very obvious. That’s terrible, isn’t it?
You create suspense by letting an unanswered question in the air. There is something wrong, but the reader doesn’t know what it is. This will make them want the answer to that question, but for that, he must keep reading the story. This will captivate them.
The more times you can avoid directly answering this question, the more suspense you’re able to create. You can’t give away too much or fill the scenes with unnecessary information. That would be boring and mess with your plan.
The most effective way to do this is trough skipping scenes. This means that you give something, some information or piece of the puzzle, to your reader, and then skip the scene without explaining it. For example, you describe your character’s reaction, but not the event or circumstance that lead him to that reaction. Then you skip the scene.
When you do this, you can continue as you’d prefer, but sometimes, give some background information to the reader might be quite effective. This will tell the reader that this new information might have something to do with the previous scene, making them build theories and hypotheses in their head, but, in reality, that just raises more questions!
Foreshadowing is a specific way of creating suspense. You’re doing this when you suggest that something is going to happen ahead of time (like in the horror movies with their typically creepy soundtrack).
Well, it’s difficult to make the reader listen to a music, or tune, in a book (not impossible though), but there are many ways of having the same impact, as is evidenced by giving creepy or gruesome details on the environment or showing that the character is having a bad, nearly queasy, feeling…
You can also do this, evidencing something far ahead in the story and then going back to a time where everything was okay. This way, your readers will want to know what the hell is going on here that might lead to such as outcome.
Suspense and mystery move your readers, and they’re, indeed, your best friends, but eventually, you will have to answer the questions. In the end, that’s what provides readers their satisfaction and closure.