I recently came across this insightful analysis of suspense in the opening of the film Inglorious Basterds. In it, there’s a mention of an article from the Psychology journal, Frontiers in Psychology about Tension and Suspense. The authors, Moritz Lehne and Stefan Koelsch, posit six components underlying suspense and tension, which I find useful in thinking about crafting scenes to engage your readers and get your characters into trouble.
I was inspired to put together the cheat-sheet graphic below, and in my Tension Lab course, I use these psychological underpinnings to identify 33 methods of creating suspense. Check out the Tension Lab class.