Organ music won’t create suspense in your story

Sometimes when attempting to create tension and suspense in a story, writers can undercut their own efforts by adding “organ music.” A term coined at the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop, organ music us providing “details that countersink an emotional response before anything happens.” An example is crackling lightning before a character is murdered. Avoid this non-subtle way of foreshadowing as a way of creating suspense, however; non-subtle foreshadowing actually gives away what is about to happen. It’s akin to the villain telling the hero, “And now I will shoot you.” Just have the villain fire his atom blaster.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.