I am claire and i am eleven years old. I'm writing a book, and i want to know: Is it okay to build suspence in the first few pages?
First, I want to apologize on behalf of myself and All Experts for your long wait. Computer technology has come a long way, but still has a long way to go, and sometimes we just have to ride out the glitches! Thank you for your patience.
Claire, the more suspence and the earlier in your work that you can build it the better. Let's talk for a moment about the three-act structure. This is the formula upon which all dramatic literary works are built - including your book.
The first act is very short. It is called the SET UP. It usually introduces the protagonist (main character) and "sets up" a major conflict or problem (that would be your suspence), and then, it leaves us hanging, so, we must continue reading to find the answer. You can see from my description of the first act that it is made to set up suspence.
The second act is the longest act in your book. It is called the CONFLICT. It usually goes into detail about the conflict and perhaps introduces more characters and begins to develop environment and character arc. This is where you shine! You really get deep into the throes of the story and plot.
Let's stop for a moment and define some terms:
STORY: The story is "what" happens. Claire went to the store for a quart of milk and a loaf of bread and returned home late that afternoon.
PLOT: The plot is "how" it happens. Claire decided to take the number ten bus to the store. While on the bus, Claire befriended a blind passenger's seeing-eye dog. When the bus came to an early stop, the doors flew open and the dog jumped out of the bus and ran away! Claire felt bad for the blind passenger and ran after the dog. During the course of the day, the dog led Clair through a few adventures.
CONFLICT: The main conflict in your story is usually created by the main character, and, it is through learning to resolve that conflict that the character grows and changes. There is a lot of room for suspence here.
CHARACTER ARC: This is the arc that shows your protagonist's growth and changes.
ENVIRONMENT: Remember, Claire, story and plot does not take place in a vacuum. You must build an environment that "supports" the story and the plot. Together, the story, plot, and environment support the conflict and character.
Finally, the last act is called the RESOLUTION. It is another short act (but not as short as act one) that pulls all the elements together and "resolves" the story and plot.
Claire, I hope this answers your question about suspence, and that the information will give you some things to think about. You might want to review some of the above discussion with your parents or English teacher, and perhaps you can convince your teacher to devote some class time to creative writing.
Again, I apologize for the wait, and corresponding with you has been my pleasure!
Youngbear Roth, Executive Editor
The Success Trust Literary Family