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The Art of Suspense 4-Week Online Workshop, Starts January 17th, 2022
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The Art of Suspense 4-Week Online Workshop, Starts January 17th, 2022

Unit price per

Begins Monday, January 17th, 2022

Now Enrolling!

Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.

Taught by award-winning novelist Ryan David Jahn (read his story "All This Distant Beauty" in The Best American Mystery Stories 2020), The Art of Suspense is a class not only for those interested in writing thrillers or suspense novels, but for any writer who wants to keep readers turning pages.

In addition to exploring the fundamentals of fiction, from dialogue and foreshadowing to plot and point of view, we will delve into how to use those tools to build suspense into our fiction, whether we’re writing an international spy novel or literary short stories.

We’ll do this by examining both shorter texts and through an in-depth exploration and discussion of how Jim Thompson builds suspense in his novel The Getaway, so we can apply the same techniques to our own fiction. Finally, each writer will have one opportunity to workshop either the first chapters of a novel-in-progress or a short story (up to 5,000 words).

The Getaway by Jim Thompson is required. Links to supplemental texts will be provided during the class.


Week One:  Character; Point of view 

Week Two:  Surprise vs. Suspense; Withholding information; A ticking clock 

Week Three:  Stakes; Complications; Increased pressure 

Week Four:  Cliffhangers; Braiding Narrative Threads Together; Resolutions


"I just finished the Art of Suspense class taught by Ryan David Jahn. Before class began, I was a little skeptical about the online format because I had not done that before. I need not have worried. Reading my classmates' work and exchanging critiques was so much fun, and I don't think anything was lost because it was online. After all, we're writers! Ryan's lessons were insightful and inspiring, as were the texts we read for the class. All in all, I feel I took away much more than I was able to contribute, and that's a bargain in anyone's book. The platform we use, Wet Ink, was excellent. Thank you, Writing Workshops and Ryan David Jahn for an excellent course experience." -Lisa S.

"I LOVED The Art of Suspense course with Ryan David Jahn. His lectures clearly demonstrated the ideas he was teaching and all of his examples were helpful. His feedback was thoughtful and constructive. I would take any class that he teaches." -Stacey D.

"I enjoyed The Art of Suspense lead by Ryan David Jahn. I am a beginning writer, and one of my big struggles was how to create suspense-tension in my stories. Suspense often happens organically in real life, but a writer needs to direct the story and control the narrative to be successful. I did get the direction I was looking for. Thanks Ryan!" -David H.

"Ryan's class introduced me to the surprises and twists that drive mystery and suspense. The assignments were a mix of reading, analyzing, and writing. The writing helped me understand the writer's technique as well as develop my own technique." -Diana N.

"Ryan! Thank you for creating this opportunity for us. I learned more than what I needed to learn for my suspenseful scenes. What I felt was fruitful for me was the assignments, especially when we could create our characters. I also deeply enjoyed reading my classmates' work, their critiques, and your critique. Out of all of the workshops I have taken, this has been one of my favorites because of the engagement between you and my classmates. Thank you!" -Kikeh E.
"The Getaway was a great read and I appreciate very much how well the lessons and related assignments were planned.  Also, really enjoyed reading everyone's work.  So much talent in this group!  Thanks to all for the feedback and comments I received I know will make me a better writer." - T.R.


This class is entirely asynchronous which means you complete the weekly assignments on your own schedule. There are no set meeting times in order to allow for greater participation; your cohort will consist of writers from across different time zones, which allows for a wonderful diversity of voices.

Along with your weekly deadlines there is plenty of interaction with Ryan and your peers within Wet Ink, our dedicated online classroom. Craft materials, lectures, reading assignments, and writing prompts are all available through the online classroom. Students also post work and provide and receive feedback within the online classroom environment.

You can get the work done as you see fit week-to-week, so it is perfect for any schedule. There are discussion questions each week inspired by the assigned readings and topics in the lecture notes. Students are encouraged to take these wherever is most compelling and/or useful for them. Ryan engages with these discussions throughout the week and you will receive feedback from all assigned writing activities.


Wet Ink was built and designed specifically for online writing classes. Wet Ink is private, easy to use, and very interactive. You can learn more about the Wet Ink platform by Watching a Class Demo.

You can pay for the course in full or use Affirm to pay over time with equal Monthly Payments. Both options are available at checkout.
  • Instructor: Ryan David Jahn

  • Class size limited to 8 writers

  • Starts January 17th, 2022

  • Course is fully ONLINE; students can work according to their own schedule within weekly deadlines. Once you have enrolled the instructor will send you a link to our online classroom, provided via Wet Ink.

Instructor Ryan David Jahn grew up in Arizona, Texas, and California. He published his first novel, Acts of Violence, which went on to win the prestigious Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Dagger, in 2009. He has since published six others, including The Dispatcher, which was named by the Financial Times as one of the top ten crime novels of the year, The Last Tomorrow, and The Breakout. His story "All This Distant Beauty" was recently selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories for 2020. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Jessica, and two daughters, Francine and Matilda.

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