Skip to main content

Conflict & Suspense

W1600 ConflictSuspense

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 www.jamesscottbell.com.

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

5 Rules of Ethical Journalism

5 Rules of Ethical Journalism

Alison Hill shares five rules of ethical journalism and shines a light on why more and more people may be growing weary of journalism and journalists.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 24 considers what it's all for.

12 Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

12 Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Cookbook

Cookbook author Deanna Martinez-Bey shares 12 pros and cons of self-publishing your cookbook to help you make the best choice for you and your manuscript.

Chloe Liese: On Changing Character Dynamics in Romance

Chloe Liese: On Changing Character Dynamics in Romance

Author Chloe Liese discusses the classic Shakespeare play that inspired her new romance novel, Two Wrongs Make a Right.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 23

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 23 is all about the family.

How To Blend True Crime With Historical Fiction in Your Writing

How To Blend True Crime With Historical Fiction in Your Writing

Author Camilla Bruce shares how to blend true crime with historical fiction that both shares facts and inspires fiction.

Just ... Different

Just ... Different

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, base your story off this opening: Jerri has been different since her accident.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 22 features our fourth Two-for-Tuesday prompt.

Ashley Herring Blake: On Letting Characters Lead

Ashley Herring Blake: On Letting Characters Lead

Award-winning author Ashley Herring Blake discusses the process of writing her new romance novel, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail.