Building Tension: Surprise Vs. Suspense

Building Tension: Surprise Vs. Suspense

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Building tension in stories can be a difficult balance between competing drives in your story. How do you know when a surprise will be more effective for the audience than the slow burn of suspense? How do you accomplish them? This OnDemand webinar will walk you through that process, showing you how to blend the two and create tension in your work.

Bryan Young has been studying the finer points of writing for more than two decades. He teaches writing at the University of Utah in their Continuing Education Program, as well as for Writer’s Digest and Script University. As a critic of literary and film theory, he’s written story analysis for everyone from Film to Script Magazine and all points in between.


  • How Tension works
  • When to Lean on Surprise
  • When to Lean on Suspense
  • How to blend Surprise and Suspense to deliver a maximum amount of tension
  • How to incorporate match your pacing and tension
  • When to excise exposition to increase the tension
  • How to make this work for screenplays and prose

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