“Hitchcockian Suspense”: Expanded.

In order to discuss this clearly, I need to break down what “Hitchcockian Suspense” entails:

“Hitchcockian Suspense” works in this fashion, or at least the principal of it works this way.

Hitchcock would say, “Take a scenario, one of two people sitting around talking about baseball, when suddenly, a bomb goes off and kills the two people at the table. Only a few seconds of shock… but take the same scenario and let the audience KNOW there’s a bomb, and suddenly the conversation takes on a whole new meaning, that of ‘stop talking about baseball and get the heck out of there’, it makes the audience work.”

Now, how to you take this further. I view the scenario as one with variables one with a primary action, and one with a counter action. The primary is, “two guys talking about baseball”, but the counter is, “the bomb”… but what happens when you add a larger number of counter actions? The suspense becomes even greater. Multiple knots which need to be tied in order for the primary action to resolve itself.

So how would this look? Say you have a primary action, (people talking about baseball). You add a secondary “counter-action”, one of a bomb ticking down… then add another “counter-action” say of a person aware of the bomb and is running to said location to disarm it… add another “counter-action” that of someone who set up the bomb and is aware of this person’s attempt to thwart his plot… the scenario then becomes much grander, much more suspenseful. Now the audience wonders not only, “Stop talking about baseball”, but, “Will this person attempting to disarm the bomb make it in time? What happens if he/she meets up with the bomber? And if the bomber stalls him/her… what of the bomb and the two people talking about baseball?” This is how added “counter-actions” to the “primary action” add to a sense of heightened “suspenseful” emotions. More thrills. Although, I will say, at some point this idea would have a breaking point I imagine, and too many “counter-actions” would end up satirical… but that’s for another, future, investigation into this topic.

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