Writing a Suspense Story Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teach your students how to write suspense stories with this lesson plan. Students will read a text lesson that explains the parts and literary techniques used in suspense stories, practicing with anchor texts before applying independently.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify parts of a suspense story
  • describe literary techniques used in suspense stories
  • write a suspense story with support and independently


1 hour for lesson plus time for independent application


Key Vocabulary

  • Suspense
  • Plot
  • Imagery
  • Show/not tell
  • Figurative language

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3.d

Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.5

With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.5

Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Warm Up and Connection

  • Divide students into small groups and ask them to think about a time they felt suspense, such as watching a movie or waiting for something to happen.
  • Instruct students to discuss their experience in their groups, determining common elements of the suspense experience such as 'tension' or 'unknown.'
  • Share as a whole group, recording elements on the board.
  • Now distribute copies of a short suspense story to students and have them read silently. Ask each student to highlight suspense elements as they read.
  • When finished, have students share their highlighted areas together, creating a list of elements from the story they found suspenseful.
  • Supplement with the lesson Suspense in Literature: Definition & Examples if desired.
  • Discuss as a whole class, asking:
    • How did the author make you feel suspense?
    • What specific techniques did the author use?
    • How was the suspense in the story the same or different than your personal experience?

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