What's the difference between Mystery and Suspense?

In a previous post we've discussed how to create a gripping story by raising questions. Now we will go further into this and explore the two main types of questions that should be raised in your story.

How to create Mystery and Suspense?

Mystery and Suspense can be created by the raising of questions in your work. There should be at least one really big question included at the very beginning which will need to be answered. This is what will keep your reader motivated to read on until the end.

When decided to choose what questions you will raise, it is very important to realise that you must be able to answer them in a way that will leave your reader satisfied. If you don't they will feel cheated.

What is mystery?

Mystery is defined by an event, occurrence or phenomenon that is impossible to explain or understand.

In fiction, the genres that are based on mystery are thrillers, ghost stories,detective stories, murder mysteries, whodunnits.

These genres all have one thing in common in that they all look backwards in time to find the answer to the mysterious question.

A classic example of a mystery is where a person has been killed and the protagonist must find out who the killer was before someone gets harmed. The reader is engaged in a puzzle they too want to know who the killer is.

What is suspense?

Suspense is defined as a state of feeling, excited, anxious and or uncertainty about an event. It is about sitting on the edge of seat during a film. It is the suspense element in books that prevent you from putting them down. You just have to know what happens next even if it means staying up all night to read when you have work early next morning.

In fiction the genres that are based on suspense are mainly thrillers which incorporate a wide variety of genres.

In suspense the questions that are raised look forwards into the future for their answers, your reader will be desperate to know what will happen next.

A classic example of suspense could be where the hero must race against time to retrieve a powerful object before it falls into the wrong hands.

Can mystery and suspense be combined?

Of course you can include elements of both in your story to really hold the reader's attention. Maybe your protagonist needs to solve a mystery in order to combat the suspense.

For example your protagonist is trying to solve an unexplained murder in order to save someone who has been kidnapped, possibly by the killer.

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