Man vs. Nature
I’m reading Lisa Wingate’s The Sea Glass Sisters. In it, a young girl is nabbed out of a car and the main character blames herself. If this doesn’t cause enough nail biting, the author ups the tension by adding the possibility of a hurricane hitting the coast of North Carolina—the exact place where the MC and her mother are headed. Will it hit, will it miss? The question keeps the reader guessing AND turning the pages to find out if the characters will stay and face the storm, or leave the Outer Banks for the safety of the inland.
You can add the element of mother nature to your novel too. In my first novel, The House with the Red Door (unpublished), I hint at an unusual snowfall and sure enough toward the end, my main character is caught in a blizzard—an important turning point in the novel.
Nature is a worthy opponent. She is mighty and unpredictable: floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Mountains that need to be climbed, prairies that need to be crossed, crops than can fail are other elements that can add suspense to an otherwise dull manuscript.
What if your story is set in a city? Add a rainstorm, an extra hot summer, a tree the city wants to remove (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), an electrical storm that cuts power (happens all the time in the Pacific Northwest), or a disease that strikes your character.
As Christians, remember God created nature. Be sure to bring the struggle of why he allows bad things to happen to good people into your story. This question keeps many from following him. You might help someone settle that question. “He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike,” (Matt 5:45 NLT).