Conflict & Suspense

Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict & Suspense
by James Scott Bell
Writer’s Digest Books, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-59963-273-5
ISBN-10: 1-59963-273-X
$16.99 paperback, 256 pages

Buy the Book!

Read an Excerpt!
Learn surefire techniques to help you brainstorm for conflict.

Online Exclusive
Download a free PDF of Bell’s in-depth conflict analysis of his novel No Legal Grounds.

About the Book
Ramp up the tension and keep your readers hooked! Inside you’ll find everything you need to know to spice up your story, move your plot forward, and keep your readers turning pages. Expert thriller author and writing instructor James Scott Bell shows you how to craft scenes, create characters, and develop storylines that harness conflict and suspense to carry your story from the first word to the last.

Learn from examples of successful novels and movies as you transform your work from ho-hum to high-tension.

  • Pack the beginning, middle, and end of your book with the right amount of conflict.
  • Tap into the suspenseful power of each character’s inner conflict.
  • Build conflict into your story’s point of view.
  • Balance subplots, flashbacks, and backstory to keep your story moving forward.
  • Maximize the tension in your characters’ dialogue.
  • Amp up the suspense when you revise.

Conflict & Suspense offers proven techniques that help you craft fiction your readers won’t be able to put down.

About the Author
James Scott Bell is the best-selling author of more than twenty novels, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing, and The Art of War for Writers. Learn more at


Table of Contents

Part 1: Conflict

            CHAPTER 1 What a Great Story Is Really All About

            CHAPTER 2 Brainstorming for Conflict

            CHAPTER 3 The Foundations of Conflict

            CHAPTER 4 The Structure of Conflict

            CHAPTER 5 Point of View and Conflict

            CHAPTER 6 Opening With Conflict

            CHAPTER 7 Keep It Moving in the Middle

            CHAPTER 8 Subplots, Flashbacks, and Backstory

            CHAPTER 9 Inner Conflict

            CHAPTER 10 Conflict in Dialogue

            CHAPTER 11 Conflict in Theme

            CHAPTER 12 Styling for Conflict

            CHAPTER 13 Revising for Conflict

            CHAPTER 14 Tools for Conflict

Part 2: Suspense

            CHAPTER 15 What Happens Next?

            CHAPTER 16 Cliff-Hangers

            CHAPTER 17 Stretching the Tension

            CHAPTER 18 Dialogue and Suspense

            CHAPTER 19 Suspense in Setting

            CHAPTER 20 Style and Suspense

            CHAPTER 21 Instant Suspense

            CHAPTER 22 Putting It All Together

            Appendix: A Conflict Analysis of Two Novels

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