Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense

vertigoIn honor of Halloween, I’m spending the day as a couch potato, watching an Alfred Hitchcock marathon. Vertigo is on now. Jimmy Stewart is an actor I never tire of watching, and Hitchcock is a director I never tire of studying.

I’ve studied the craft of writing for years and, as a writer, you’ll find inspiration and nuggets of wisdom flying at you from every direction. I saw an interview with Hitchcock many, many years ago where he described HOW to create suspense. He said imagine you have two men sitting at a table in a cafe. If the writer/director knows there is a bomb under the table, the writer/director feels the suspense, but the key is to show that bomb to the reader/viewer – without showing it to the character sitting at the table. Instant suspense.

I try to follow Hitchcock’s advice. In Fatal Impulse, I wanted the reader to know who the bad guy was, to see where the danger was, but I wanted Andi to miss the clues. She is a broken individual, who doesn’t look at things the way most of us do. She has been abused for so long, she can no longer see things clearly. Relationships are skewed in her mind. But the reader knows she is walking into danger, and wants to scream at her to stop.

The same thing is happening in my new novel. Sophie is totally different from Andi, though. Sophie is a tough survivor, who grew up in foster homes. But the reader sees danger where Sophie does not.

I’m certainly not comparing myself to Alfred Hitchcock, but I hope I’ve learned something from his methods.

Have you ever watched Hitchcock? If so, what’s your favorite movie (or episode)?