I attended several sessions at the OWFI writing conference the first weekend of May, in between taking care of volunteer work. One of the sessions was Romantic Suspense by Merline Lovelace. I'll share some of the information I gained from her presentation, which I'm using to write a romantic suspense myself. Well, I'm not into graphic detail, but I think I can still manage an interesting book using a bit of humor and timing to keep things going.
Merline Lovelace is an interesting person as well as an award winning author. She retired from the Air Force after a travel-filled life thanks to Uncle Sam. Much of her experiences find their way into her writing. I enjoyed meeting her and visiting with her.
Now, what I learned about writing romantic suspense, which is a sub-genre of romance, rather than a sub-genre of mystery or suspense: First, what really got my attention is romantic suspense is big business which translate to big money. However, since suspense is a major component of the genre or sub-genre, I believe we can discuss it under mystery, too.
Merlene gave five (5) characteristics of romantic suspense. I hope I can explain them half as well as she did.
1. Romantic suspense is plot driven and usually about 60,000 - 80,000 words. The action escalates each chapter, with the suspense/crime/mystery and the sexual tension between the couple.
2. The action starts with a bang and continues at a fast pace. Little time is allowed for introspection. The characters don't take time to mull over emotions and remembering in the middle of the action.
3. Dramatic tone is a must, a strong sense of atmosphere that reflects danger, excitement. Word choice and setting contribute to tone.
4. Romantic suspense has a large caste of characters (sometimes). often to introduce red herrings. The author can leave the reader guessing throughout the book or allow readers to know the antagonist(s) throughout.
5. Romantic suspense required a strong female protagonist, a very active partner who may save the hero herself.
The main challenge in writing romantic suspense is the need to write two distinct stories, romance and suspense, which must be balanced. Everything that effects the relationship, affects the suspense. As the romance builds, so does the mystery/suspense.
Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap