Creating Suspense

I love romance novels. I love that they end with a happily ever after. And while I know that by the end of the book, the hero and heroine will be together, I like when the conflicts are thick enough to make me wonder how the author will tie up the story.

It's no surprise that I love romantic suspense because the suspense angle adds an extra layer to the conflict.

What I don't love is when I figure out on page 5 who the stalker / murderer / arsonist / thief is. It's a tricky line for an author. The antagonist cannot come out of the clear blue sky at the end of the novel, but the ending shouldn't be so obvious.

In a novel I recently read (and stopped reading because I'd figured out who the antagonist was and it took all the suspense out of the book), the heroine mentioned several times how this one particular person made her uneasy. Based on the emphasis about this secondary character, I knew he was the criminal.

When the antagonist's identity needs to remain secret, how does an author introduce the antagonist without giving away the suspense element? Introduce multiple possible antagonists? Add red herrings to draw the reader to think in one direction or another?

Edittorrent had a blog post about this a few weeks ago: Suspense. Where does it start?


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