Article: Romantic Suspense

Romantic Suspense
Riveted To The Edge Of Your Seat
by Melissa Alvarez

If you are an author who writes romantic suspense then you probably love reading the genre. You’ve gotten a feel of the mix of romance, suspense, and intrigue that mesh together throughout the novel. But what comes first? The romance or the suspense?

That’s almost like asking what comes first – the chicken or the egg? An author who writes romantic suspense may begin with a suspenseful story and add a romance that develops and is fulfilled at the end. Or they may begin with a romance and add the suspense. It works both ways and an author must find her true voice.

In romantic suspense novels your first few pages must grab the reader (editor too) and pull them into the drama of the story. You want them to keep turning the pages until the last one. Romantic suspense doesn’t necessarily have to be a mystery with a puzzle to solve but it does have to keep the reader on the edge of his seat to see if the villain is caught before he causes harm to the characters or if he gets away.

When writing a romantic suspense novel you want to open strong without giving too much background information while building and maintaining the suspense. Keep your sentences short, the tension high and the action moving. The climax of the romantic suspense should be an intense page-turner. The reader should be reading fast, breathing fast, clenching the book or ebook reader, and so involved in the story that nothing distracts them. Right after the climax you should quickly tie up all loose ends, close the conflict, and then resolve the romantic relationship between the heroine and hero.

When writing romantic suspense make sure to do your research. If you’re writing about a crime scene make sure you know how the police really work around a crime scene. You may not include all the details in your manuscript but you should know them. Remember, the person reading your book may actually be a detective so be brilliant in your rendering of the career and of the characters. Make them strong, intelligent and sure of themselves. Today’s heroines are strong, independent thinkers – not a wimpy mouse that hides behind the hero. Romance fiction is read to discover how the heroine overcomes the trials and tribulations she encounters while falling in love with the hero.

If you write romantic suspense you should always know where you are going with the story from the first word. Pace the story so the tension and the relationship builds until the climax, which resolves the storyline, and then resolve the romance. Make your villain a match for your hero and heroine, an equal enemy.

Need help with plotting, motivation, or general ideas while writing your romantic suspense? Visit your local library and read, read, read!! Read as many romantic suspense books as you can to get a feel of how other romantic suspense authors weave their stories. Then sit down and write in a style all your own.