One way an author creates suspense is by developing a rising action that leaves the reader uncertain of what's to follow. In his short story "The Cold Equations," author Tom Godwin creates suspense in his very first sentence:
He was not alone.
These words conjure up a multitude of hair-raising images in the reader's mind of stalkers and other predators lurking in hidden places. The sentence also immediately creates rising action because the reader knows that, as the story unfolds, the reader will learn who else is present in the story. But, since the reader is not given any clues prior to this opening sentence as to who the character is and who else is with the character, the rising action also leaves the reader uncertain of upcoming events.
Red herrings are often also used to create suspense. A red herring is an "irrelevant topic" used to distract the audience ("Red Herring," Literary Devices). A red herring is a type of logical fallacy that, when used in an argument, distracts the audience from the real issue. When used in literature, a red herring misleads a reader into drawing a conclusion that differs from the story's true resolution ("Red Herring").
Godwin creates a red herring at the start of the story when, after the narrator explains there is a stowaway on the ship, the narrator also describes Barton as completely accustomed to the sight of a man dying and ready to take a man's life per necessity. The use of the word man in the early paragraphs makes the reader think as Barton thinks, that the stowaway is a grown man who understands the repercussions of his actions. In reality, the stowaway is a young, innocent girl, which creates a new set of problems for the story. By using the word man in the early paragraphs, Godwin creates a red herring to throw the reader off and make the girl's presence more surprising, thereby creating suspense.