One of Obstfeld’s nuggets to milk tension out of a scene is a writerly sleight of hand he calls the suspense pocket. He writes, “[It’s] a little device that creates a misdirected suspense moment within a scene to reveal something else”[p. 47]. In other words, don’t reveal the scene’s payoff immediately. Delay. Feed the reader vital information about other things—characterization, conflicts, etc. The reader, wanting the payoff, painlessly gets what they need while you, the writer, have avoided the dreaded info dump and injected tension into your story.
Here’s an example of a suspense pocket from Eoin Colfer in his latest Artemis Fowl offering, THE ETERNITY CODE. [Read more…]