Something's coming

The first few lines remain rather cryptic—we don’t fully understand what the threat is yet, and the cues and responses are given without context. This creates suspense as we read on to find out what awaits us.

A soft hissing sound. Behind him, above him. It set his teeth on edge.

He turned round, looked up – and nearly bit his tongue off.

Because the crack in the sky was back.

Notice the short sentences used at the beginning to create a sudden tension, building up to the “turn-around” moment of realisation.

A simple audio cue is often all that is needed to set up the danger. In a horror story, the protagonist might hear the laugh of a clown. In an action thriller, a door may close unexpectedly in another room. Having danger that is heard, but not immediately seen, adds a sense of foreboding—a feeling that something bad will happen soon. This gives time for the character to investigate and discover the source.

Let’s see some different examples of how a cosmic threat can be set up.

A deep rumble. Below the ship. It rattled his bones.

Biff looked out the window - and nearly choked.

Because a great, crackling void was opening on the surface of the planet below.

Something was beeping. The gravity probe. She smacked it without thinking.

Then she saw the monitor—and her heart stopped.

The black hole was alive.

A low mechanical vibration. From behind her. It made her gills quiver.

Jola twisted, just in time to see—and swam for her life.

The human’s box was glowing, pouring light from every corner.

Write your own variation here.