What Is Dramatic Tension?

Dramatic tension is defined as pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome, such as the ending of a mystery novel. It is an important element of dramatic works in literature, film and television.

Suspense is a term often used interchangeably with dramatic tension. Suspense develops in a work of fiction when apprehension, tension or anxiety is felt by the audience regarding the outcome of the plot. Dramatic tension can happen when the audience is aware of something that the characters are not but is also possible when the audience and the characters share the same knowledge and point of view.