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Review of Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre by Benjamin Percy on Skillshare

Unlock the art of suspense writing in this exceptional course by Benjamin Percy. In this review, we’ll delve into the course lessons and the instructor’s secrets to keeping readers at the edge of their seats. Are you ready to know what the key to suspense is?

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Writing Suspense by Benjamin Percy on Skillshare: Our Verdict (2023)


4.9/ 5

"Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre" by Benjamin Percy on Skillshare is an engaging and dynamic course that guides you through the art of creating suspenseful stories, blending creativity with technique. Benjamin’s simple step-by-step approach, filled with useful tips and practical exercises, simplifies the core elements of suspense writing, helping you to become a master of suspense. Writers from different fields, from novelists to screenwriters, will greatly improve their skills by taking this course.


  • Learning from an expert writer
  • The lessons are dynamic and fun
  • Practical tips and exercises to apply what is being taught
  • Lots of literary recommendations to learn from
  • The course inspires you and motivates you to write


  • Lack of structured templates to help craft your story


There is something alluring in suspense stories and unexpected twists that make us unable to stop reading. But how can you keep readers on the edge of their seats, eager to know more? Benjamin Percy sure knows how, and he shares his wisdom and experience with you through this comprehensive course on suspense writing. But is this course really a secret tool that will help you master suspense and add it to your stories? Let’s find the answer by going through Benjamin’s lessons on suspenseful storytelling. Follow me as I explore the course content and uncover the secrets of writing suspense.

Table of Contents

What is "Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre"?

Writing suspense is a skill that transcends genres, captivating readers and leaving them eagerly turning the pages. In this course, “Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre” by Benjamin Percy, you will learn the art of suspenseful storytelling in 14 engaging lessons over 1 hour and 16 minutes. Benjamin teaches you the secrets of writing stories that intrigue and captivate readers, regardless of the genre. With a lot of practical techniques, tips, and exercises, this course will grant you all the tools you need to write stories that leave a lasting impression.

Who is Benjamin Percy?

Author Benjamin Percy
Author Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy is a multifaceted comic, novel, and screenplay writer. His published works include several novels, including The Ninth Metal, The Unfamiliar Garden, The Dark Net, The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding.

He is the mastermind behind stories in the Marvel Comics universe, having worked on popular titles such as Wolverine, X-Force, and Ghost Rider. For DC Comics, AWA, and Dynamite Entertainment, he has worked on Green Arrow, Devil’s Highway, Teen Titans, Year Zero, Nightwing, and James Bond.

Wolverine: The Long Night,” one of his audio dramas, was listed among the top 15 podcasts of the year by Apple and received the iHeart Radio Award for Best Scripted Podcast, and his fiction and nonfiction pieces have appeared on the pages of Esquire, GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Ploughshares, Tin House, and the Paris Review.

Who is this course's target audience?

This course is perfect for writers across different fields looking to improve their suspense and storytelling skills. If you’re an aspiring novelist, screenwriter, or a writer in any other medium, this is one of the best writing courses you’ll ever come across. It’s designed for writers at any stage of their writing journey, from beginners eager to learn the fundamentals of suspense to experienced authors looking to refine their craft. The course’s versatile approach is useful for learners with diverse interests, offering practical tips for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

What does the course cover?

Here is a summary of what the course covers:

  1. Introduction: In this section, you’ll learn the importance of suspense in storytelling.
  2. Designing Suspense: This section’s focus is on the contrast between literary and genre fiction, exploring the balance of emotional and narrative elements.
  3. Charting a Story: In this lesson, you will learn the art of balancing emotional and descriptive narrative. You’ll understand Freytag’s triangle and discover that every story is a transformational journey.
  4. Developing Characters and Narrative: You’ll make use of Freytag’s triangle to explore the practical aspects of structuring a story, focusing on chapter breaks and plot points.
  5. Using Inciting Incidents: This section teaches you to write inciting incidents that instantly engage readers, setting the tone for the entire narrative.
  6. Developing Characters and Emotion: Benjamin Percy teaches you the fundamentals of a character’s emotions and their importance through literary examples.
  7. Using Emotional Resonance: In this section, you’ll learn the power of emotional storytelling and how you can use it without relying too much on description.
  8. Building Suspense with Temporary Blindness: You will learn the technique of “temporary blindness” as a tool for creating suspense within scenes and chapters.
  9. Using Reversals: In this lesson, you’ll explore the art of using reversals to add intrigue and suspense into storytelling, focusing on raising questions to engage readers.
  10. Creating the Turnstile of Mysteries: Benjamin helps you understand the importance of maintaining intrigue in storytelling with the concept of the “turnstile of mysteries”.
  11. Creating Triangulation: This section introduces the concept of triangulation in storytelling, setting up character dynamics and tasks to enhance the complexity and depth of your story.
  12. Using Triangulation: Benjamin explores triangulation further using literary examples.
  13. The End(ing): You will learn to embrace unpredictability to leave a lasting impact and create satisfying and suspenseful story endings.
  14. Final Thoughts: Benjamin Percy encourages you to live beyond societal expectations and prioritize your writing.

What I liked about the course

Introduction to the first lesson on creating suspense
Your first lesson on suspense
  1. Engaging lessons: From the very beginning, this course stood out as one of the most enjoyable courses I’ve ever taken. Benjamin Percy teaches in a way that is not only enjoyable but also dynamic. He keeps you on the edge of your seat, always eager to hear what he will say next.
Highlighting the learning process through reading and emulating what inspires us
We learn by reading and copying what inspires us
  1. Literary recommendations: The course offers a lot of literary recommendations that can truly immerse you in the world of suspense writing. These recommendations serve as valuable resources to understand how suspense works in narrative. I’ve had the pleasure of taking several courses from different authors, like Myla Goldberg and Daniel Jose Older, and they all share the same tip as Benjamin: Read and imitate your favorite authors and their work to improve your writing.
Overview of the lessons covered in the course
Lessons covered in the course
  1. Structured fundamentals: The course covers the fundamentals of suspense writing in a detailed and structured manner. It manages to deliver all the essentials of suspense writing without ever becoming dull or tedious.
Benjamin Percy humorously discussing literary fiction
Benjamin making fun of literary fiction
  1. Direct and inspirational approach: Benjamin Percy balances professionalism with a warm and direct approach throughout the course, making the lessons feel like a friendly conversation. His passion and experience are evident and inspiring, motivating you to become a better writer.
Benjamin Percy advising to share your ideas
Benjamin suggests to share your ideas
  1. Abundance of examples and exercises: Benjamin Percy doesn’t just explain concepts; he backs them up with numerous examples. He provides exercises that allow you to apply what you’ve learned to your writing.
Introduction to the story in Star Wars
The introduction to the story in Star Wars
  1. Cultural references: The course is filled with cultural references that make complex concepts easy to understand. For instance, his use of Star Wars to illustrate how a story is structured adds a fun and familiar dimension to the learning experience.
Exploring the concept of Freytag’s Triangle
Understanding Freytag’s Triangle
  1. Illustrative Examples: Benjamin Percy’s use of a marker and paper to illustrate concepts makes it easier to grasp complex ideas and apply them to your writing.
Encouragement to persist even when facing challenges in writing
You need to keep going even when things are hard
  1. Motivational: Perhaps one of the most motivating aspects of the course is Benjamin Percy’s ability to ignite your passion for writing. He encourages you to remain focused on your writing objectives and goals and urges you to take action.

What I didn't like about the course

Through this course, I discovered the intricate art of writing suspense and adding it to my writing. With every writing exercise, I found my stories were slowly becoming better and more intriguing, proof that with dedication and practice, you can master the power of suspense in your writing, captivating readers with every tale you create.

What sets this course apart is its power to inspire. Benjamin Percy’s passion for writing is infectious. He motivates you throughout the course to begin your writing journey and to share your work with others.

In essence, this course is not just about learning; it’s about becoming a better writer, a more inspired writer, and a more committed writer. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the learning process and find the motivation to write and apply what you’ve learned. It’s an investment that goes far beyond the classroom, one that inspires you to start writing your own stories. If you’re passionate about suspense and storytelling, don’t hesitate to enroll in this course – it’s an experience that’s worth every moment.

How much does the course cost?

Courses on Skillshare can not be bought individually – they can only be accessed by signing up for a Skillshare membership. The good news? Skillshare offers e-student.org learners a full month free trial if you use our link (if not using our link, there is normally only a 7-day free trial). As virtually all Skillshare courses will take you less than a month to complete, you can in effect take this or any other Skillshare course for free – or any number of courses that you can finish in a month.

Once your free trial is over, the cost of Skillshare is $165 per year, which averages out to $13.75 per month. This gives you full access to all 34,000+ Skillshare courses. But if you're not happy to continue, you can easily cancel any time before your free trial ends – just go to your payment settings in your account.

If you have no need for a free trial, you can instead get %30 discount on your first year by using this special link instead. With this link, your first year will be just $115.50, averaging out to $9.63 per month. Note that this offer is only valid for new accounts, so it can't be combined with the 30-day free trial.

Conclusion – Is the course worth it?

Having personally experienced the course, I can confidently affirm that “Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft” by Daniel José Older on Skillshare is the perfect course for you if you are passionate about storytelling. It teaches you the essential skills for creating engaging narratives and provides a fun and interactive learning experience. While it could benefit from more practical exercises, its contents can help you kick-start your creative writing journey.

Remember, the path of learning never ends, and applying the knowledge gained from this course can lead to significant improvements in your storytelling abilities. So, if you’re excited to learn the basics of storytelling or looking to improve your storytelling skills, this course is well worth your time.

If you are ready to get into the world of storytelling, enroll in the course and start writing your own captivating stories!