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  1. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    Is suspense a genre?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Matt E, May 26, 2019.

    The other day I noticed that a movie had Action and Suspense listed as its genres. This has been bugging me for a while now -- suspense is sometimes referred to as a genre of its own, though it is usually paired with something else. Action suspense. Romantic suspense. Mystery or horror. The movie in this case is John Wick, which could be more accurately described as a noir thriller in my opinion. I think of suspense more as a storytelling tool, not a genre of its own. Most good movies have suspense tied up in their conflict. Raw suspense is cheap, you have to pair it with something that has meaning, otherwise it's like clickbait, dragging the reader/viewer along without giving them a real payoff. It seems odd to think of this as a genre to me, but there could be some good examples that I'm not thinking of.

    Is suspense a genre? In particular, can it be a genre of its own, without being paired with something else like action? What's the difference between an action film and an action suspense film?
     
  2. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I've heard the term Suspense used as a genre, but not in a long long while. It usually meant thillers (Psycho, Fatal Attraction, along those lines).
    I don't think that suspense is a genre. Any good story should have some amount of suspense.
     
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  3. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    I would say it's more of a sub-genre. You can have suspense as a significant factor in any other genre.
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Here's an interesting take on the subject. According to this article, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense are all separate genres, and the article explains the differences between them. I haven't researched this thoroughly, but these sound like sensible differences that you could work with.
    https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/i-have-an-idea/w/choosing-your-topic/1946/genre-basics---suspense---article
     
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  5. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. The principal goal of a suspense story is to gradually increase the tension until the climax, without any true relief before that point. Alfred Hitchcock was a master (the master?) of suspense, whether the central story is a political thriller, a murder mystery, a medical crisis, or even a comedic event.

    In the 1950s, into the very early 1960s, there was a very popular radio program named Suspense, whose tales also covered every kind of story line, but all characterized by a crescendo of tension to the last possible moment.
     
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think there is some level of suspense in most things. I would't label any of my work that way, but I do hope I've got some level of suspense in there.
     
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  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

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    I took a writing class called Horror and Suspense. I've just kind of linked them into one genre....:superthink:
     

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