What is the relationship between mood and suspense in literature?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Mood" is a particular state of mind or feeling created by the writer. It can be happy, sad, creepy, foreboding, violent, etc. "Suspense" is a growing sense of urgency or anxiety that builds to the eventual climax of a story or novel. The two terms can certainly work together in many variable combinations, and both states are important in creating an overall effect. Suspense is often built simply upon the well-told wording of an exciting tale. Both the mood of a story and the suspense that builds therein help to sustain the reader throughout its reading. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mood includes many literary choices that an author may choose to make. For example, the words an author chooses to use can create a mood. In addition, whether a piece is written from the first person point of view or in another way also affects the mood. For example, if an author tells a story in the first person point-of-view, it seems personal or confessional. If an author chooses third person narrative, the mood conveyed would be more objective. In addition, if the dialogue is between two characters who are fighting then the mood would be tense or argumentative.

The other literary device is suspense.Suspense is created by withholding something--whether it be critical plot turns and twists or information about a character's motives or actions done by a character that nobody knows about until the end of the novel. Suspense is essential to mystery because the author does not want the reader to understand the mystery until the end. Suspense is not only developed in murder mysteries. It is created in many stories and novels by alluding to something that happened, or is going to happen in the future, but not saying what that is until the end.

Mood and suspense go together. It is all up to the author whether he or she wants to create a certain mood in their novel. I don't think an author says to herself, I am going to create the mood of sadness then makes a scene. I think the author says to herself that she wants to create a certain character then that character faces difficulties in life. Then how they react to those troubles causes a mood in the scene. However, I do think it is a conscious choice to use suspense. Suspense keeps the reader turning the pages. It picques the readers interest. It is beguiling. Suspense is essential for good literature.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial