How Do Authors Create Suspense and Tension in Their Stories?

Topics: Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band Pages: 8 (3003 words) Published: May 23, 2013
How do authors create suspense and tension in their stories?

A good mystery story needs a hero, a villan and an out of the ordinary storyline. In my opinion the story should have a realistic drama and the right setting, something to drastic will not allow the reader to relate to the story. A narrator may make the story more personal and the reader can really get inside the story to know what the character is feeling and fears, increasing tension. There also should be a range of suspects; some of these characters can be used as red herrings, which can mislead the reader, adding to the shock at the end of the story. In ‘The speckled band’ the suspects are the gypsies, the exotic animals and Dr Roylott, there are some obvious and some not, this means the story could turn down a range of directions. Having lots of suspects makes the reader think more about who the culprit could be, increasing tension and suspicion, Victorians would have wanted to read on because they liked to know the truth, since Charles Dawin’s ‘origin of species’ raised suspicion on how the world formed, this made the Victorians very supposititious . Another key factor a mystery story should have is clues and a clever twist. The clues lead the reader deeper into finding out what the mystery of the story is, then the twist, maybe at the start or end of the story, turns the story around; making the mystery something never thought about. I also like danger and fear to be a part of a mystery story; this keeps the readers in suspense and will make them carry on reading to know what the final outcome of the scene is. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘the Speckled Band’ is an excellent example of an effective mystery story.

‘The Speckled Band’ is narrated by Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes’s housemate; Watson reveals one of his many tales of adventure with Holmes. In this story a girl dies under mysterious circumstances in her bedroom at a gothic mansion where she lived with her sister, Helena Stoner and her aggressive step father Dr Roylott who owned a number of exotic animals and liked to befriend gypsies. The use of exotic animals would have appealed to the Victorians because they were a very new, and these animals would have only ever been heard of. The fact that Roylott is friends with gypsies would have been very odd for the Victorians, because it was a drastic mix of class, an owner of a manor would have never even though about talking to gypsies because they were frowned upon. The girl had recently become engaged to be married shortly before her death. Because she was in line to be married, it meant that the girl would inherit a large sum of money her mother left to her and her sister before she died. The girl’s last words were "The Speckled Band!” the only clue miss stoner has on finding out what caused her sisters awful death. Now, her sister Helena has become engaged and Dr Roylott is ordering her to start sleeping in her sister's bedroom, she fears the same tragedy awaits her too. Next Miss stoner seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes and his side kick Dr Watson, after agreeing to help the girl in need, Sherlock travels from Baker street in London, to the gloomy gothic manor house to investigates the house. This change of scenery triggers a change in the mood of the story, from the safe, bustling streets of London, to the empty, dark and almost threatening manor house in Stoke Moran. This change would have increased the tension in the story and intrigued the reader to read on. He finds a useless bell chord and a ventilator leading from Dr Roylotts room to her sister’s old room. These to clues are very hard to connect, so Sherlock orders Miss Stoner to sleep in her own room while Sherlock and Watson spend the night in her sister’s room. That night Sherlock and Watson wait, until a number of events happen all at once, Sherlock starts hitting at something violently, then stops and announces to Watson that everything is over, they both venture out of the room and...
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