Suspense can be damn near frustrating when you’re reading, or especially watching a movie. You see the main character getting beaten to a pulp and you’re left feeling upset for them, willing them to get up and fight again. “Why? What the hell is even going on? What’s the point?”
The story is the point. Finding out why they are being put through their steps, but the biggest thing to remember is that, most often, with all stories, there is a point at all. It lends to development, to the bigger picture and the lessons that the story teaches not only to the character but the messages it gives to the reader.
Though, thinking of messages reminds me of school, where you’d tear the story apart and pick at the bones for something that may or may not be there. Novels, movies, short stories, novellas, they all have parts of the author in them, and the full dimensions of the character that you’re looking over the shoulder of from point A to point B. The curtain color, or the way that the Irish hunk says milk, does not always mean something. Sometimes, it can. It can be a reminder of something or an inside joke.
Writing with someone else controlling the story line, you see something different: your character is being led to a specific point. No matter the character’s frustration, they will be pulled to a certain scene.
On chance that you miss the scene you’re going for, run with it. There will be another chance. In the meantime, ride the wave and see where it takes you. You’ll get back to where you wanted to go, but now you have another experience in your pocket!
When writing these scenes yourself, though, consider what you want for the character. Think about their development, where they’re going and what the end is for them, in the story, or in their life. If you don’t like something, or if you can’t see it happening well, or at all, don’t do it. Do not do anything you don’t like.
There have been a few shows I’ve seen that do things to their characters without much of a reason. It ruins the story and the personal story of the character. It seems pointless. Avoid that like the plague. If it gives more definition, by all means, go for it. If not, try to hold back.
If you want the suspense to be there, still providing some exclamation point moments, make sure the character or characters can bounce back. You like the thrill of something happening, but don’t know how it can be countered or one-upped? You can make weak points and find others that will be the downfall. There is always a way.
Also, I will admit I’ve been watching an action adventure movie while writing this… It helps. 😉
-The Novice Wordsmith