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The Suspense Genre

What is the Suspense Genre?

Suspense is the feeling that something bad is going to happen. In fiction, it's the slow growth of uneasiness that the reader feels over the outcome of the book and the fate of the main character. Many times in suspense, the reader is aware of things that the character is not, which allows the reader to feel anxiety over something happening in the future.

Suspense could be categorized as it's own genre rather than a simple subgenre of Mystery. Suspense is often categorized along with Thrillers, but there are differences. Either way, you'll often find Mytery, Suspence, and Thrillers in the same asile of the book store and all three genres often include elements of each other.

Suspense Characteristics

  • Level of Characterization

    The characters can be full realized or cardboard. Characters must be likable though as no one particularly cares if the unliked main character dies or not..

  • Level of Plot

    Suspense is a function of plot, since suspense is all about the conflict in the story. Will the main character get what he/she wants, or will the character fall short of the desired outcome?

  • Level of Mystery

    The novel may have some mystery which needs to be solved, but the mystery may end early or may be revealed to the reader early on.

  • Level of Suspense

    well, of course!

  • Level of Thriller

    There may be some thriller elements in the book, such as the villain or the stakes for the outcome.

  • Level of Strangeness

    Probably not as much as other subgenres. Part of suspense is relating to the danger at hand. So the fear has to be something recognizable.

  • Level of Violence

    Violence may be a part of the suspense, especially if death is a possible outcome for the main character.

  • Level of Action

    The action runs high in a suspense novel. There has to be palatable acts that threaten the main characters for the suspense to be held.

  • Degree of Thriller, Suspense, Crime, or Mystery in the Suspense Subgenre

    This definitely falls squarely under the suspense category. There may be thriller type elements in the use of the antagonist or the stakes if the characters fail. The book is unlikely to be crime fiction, though the book may be a mystery if there is a strong element of whodunit with the suspense in the book.

Related MYSTERY Subgenres



  • Thrillers.

Suspense isn't for you IF...

like series characters (since the reader will know that the protagonist lives through each adventure)

Popular Suspense Books