Monday, February 5, 2018

5 Tips for Writing Romantic Suspense

My writing career started off as a romance writer but I soon got the urge to write suspense as well. As I explain to friends and readers, those bodies just started falling and they kept turning up in strange places to ruin my romances until I couldn't very well ignore them. I had to include them in my romance stories and have my hero and heroine not only fall in love but solve the crime too.

Why write romance and romantic suspense? The combination can be fun. Just when things get slow in the romance, I can always have the suspense ratchet up because someone is either in danger or gets killed.  The same is true in suspense. When the heroine thinks all she has to do is solve the crime, suddenly some guy enters the picture and she has to deal with all these strange romantic feelings.  The treachery by an author never relents!  We love to torture our heroes and heroines and test them every way we can.  Shove a problem in their way and then let them get out!  So what do you need t know if you want to write romantic suspense?

1. Get both plots under way quickly. Don't hesitate on either one. Introduce the hero and heroine in
the first or second chapter and get the romance started, whether it is their meeting or using opposing viewpoints. Let the reader know who they will be following in the book. If you are writing romantic suspense, editors and romance publishers usually want their story to begin almost simultaneously with whatever the mystery is going to be. I've heard that from both agents and editors.

2. Get your characters involved not only with each other but with the story as well. We don't want a woman who is just along for the ride or the hero who just turns up when she needs help.  We want them both invested in the mystery, even if we aren't quite sure until the end if one or the other might even be involved in the murderous or criminal event.  If you can make one look guilty, even better!

3. Don't let the romance overwhelm the mystery or the other way around. As I mentioned earlier,we want this story to be 50-50 so neither one should overwhelm the other. You want to use the romance to keep the characters emotionally involved with each other, but they can both be involved in solving the mystery, even if they are on different sides or hoping for different outcomes.

4. Don't over do one element to the detriment of the other. If you find yourself more invested or involved in the romance, then perhaps you are writing a romantic story with suspense elements. On the other hand if you find yourself so focused on police activity or on law enforcement, then perhaps you are writing a detective story with romantic elements. Is there enough emotion involved? Would you rather focus on police details? Or are you so caught up in your romance you are simply sliding over those scenes involving crime solving? Be honest as you decide what you are writing. You can fix in the editing process, but by the end you should know which genre or sub genre your story belongs in before you got to an editor or agent.

5. Watch that ending. It needs to wrap up both the mystery and the romance. Perhaps the hero and heroine have just decided they are going to be friends now that they have solved the case, but be sure you have a satisfying conclusion for the reader.

There are more  rules for writing romantic suspense, but this is a good way to start. The main thing is to remember your characters. Which are they more suited for? Look them over and determine if they belong in a mystery or if they prefer a romance. Often your characters will know before you do! 

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