How many suspense and ticking clock ideas can you add to your film
down any suspense ideas with plot point numbers on the brainstorming
• Show antagonist in hot pursuit of protagonist without protagonist
being aware of the danger then cut back and forth between them in
• Place protagonist in situations where they are clearly going
to lose by overwhelming odds such as being outnumbered or out gunned.
Then have them succeed in surprising way after failing several times
to get out of situation by doing something surprising or using a
• Show antagonist doing something really scary or heartless
to someone else first to let us know how deadly, evil, dangerous
or powerful they are in comparison to the protagonist then show
them going after or towards protagonist.
• Add a ticking clock time pressure to the main plot goal
and a little ticking clock to each scene if possible – bomb
about to go off, meeting, deadline, race, running out of something
Create tension by constructing characters who are opposites forced
to be together then show them disagreeing and having strained relationships.
• Establish something as important to one character then have
another character destroy important thing by mistake or on purpose
• Show antagonist planning to kill loved ones, hanging out
around family pretending to be someone else as a warning or getting
ready to kill something dear to protagonist
Show character trying to hide a secret that keeps being about to
Clearly establish what character will lose if they get caught doing
something they are not suppose to be doing (like having an affair
(lose rich spouse), murdering someone (lose everything and go to
jail) who is blackmailing them or stealing/gambling to cover debts
(financial ruin/ shame/ loss of family) then show them almost getting
caught over and over again.
Show main character being squeezed emotionally to come up with money
or results forcing character to do things they would not normally
Show character who seems good at first suddenly do something horrific
with little emotion or thought - like killing someone casually -
audience realizes they do this all the time - very chilling.
Show smart police or detectives closing in on solving character’s
Show protagonist on journey to deliver something or find something
with antagonist in hot pursuit, after same thing or opposite goal.
Use universal relationship conflicts between people - new rich mother
in law does not like son’s poor fiancée and tries to
break up their relationship.
Show protagonist trapped in evil or dangerous place that seemed
normal at first but changes suddenly.
Show secret antagonistic character going from nice/ friendly/ flirtatious,
to creepy and threatening.
Establish very clear high stakes outcomes for both protagonist and
antagonist plot goals (loved one lives if protagonist helps antagonist
/ hotel where protagonist works is blown up with VIP inside by antagonist).
Show cutaway shots of potential victims walking into trap or dangerous
place that is about to blow up because of other plan in the works.
• Show protagonist trying to outsmart antagonist and getting
caught (first show them almost getting caught a few times) - Sets
off silent alarm, uses secret phone to call for help, slips a message
to someone, digging an escape tunnel, hiding a potential weapon).
• Use an escalation of violence with antagonist - first nice
then hits protagonist hard then threatens with a knife.
Create 1-3 suspense ideas for each plot point in your story.
Add a ticking clock time pressure to the main plot goal and some
plot points if possible.