Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Genre Tuesday - A Look at Romantic Suspense

A look at Romantic Suspense

Romantic suspense is a very popular sub-genre of romance. It is also used to transition from romance to more mainstream genres. In order to have a good, solid, romantic suspense, the story must blend suspense and romance in equal proportions and do two things in equal proportions – 1) solve the mystery/suspense 2) have the hero/heroine fall in love.

The Nature of Suspense
What does suspense bring to the table, you ask? It gives the story instant attention. Something dire has happened. Solving the dilemma is a must for our hero/heroine. Keep in mind with suspense that the hero/heroine finds out early on in the story who the villain is. Just how much damage will the villain do before he/she is stopped is the heart of the suspense. Suspense is different from mystery in that in a mystery the hero/heroine take the entire story to find out "whodunit." In suspense, it’s a matter of stopping the villain. Remember to use the setting to help create an element of suspense. Weather, also, can heighten suspense.

The Villain
The villain isn't just plain nuts anymore. Readers are more savvy these days and can appreciate a complex villain. Don't be afraid to show the villain's motivation, which can include: ambition, blackmail, thrill, fear, jealousy and even self-defense. A good villain heightens the suspense.

The Nature of Romance
The nature of romantic suspense really necessitates a short time line. You don't have weeks or months to allow feelings to grow – you have days if that, so the chemistry between the hero/heroine needs to be immediate. Don't forget your internal conflict and those niggly little issues in the back of the hero/heroine's mind that makes them hesitant to jump into romance. Just remember you won't have a lot of time for long narratives or character introspection. Phobias work well, too. Think of what scares your hero/heroine and put them in that situation.

The End
Your end has to accomplish two things –the villain is brought to justice and the hero/heroine commit to working things out. Remember a "high" commitment of marriage might seem out of place since the story takes place in a short period of time, but knowing the couple is on the right track will work for the reader.


  1. I like that a villain isn't just plain nuts anymore :)

  2. I love a complex villain. I think it makes the story so much more interesting, and since villain often mirrors the hero's darker qualities, it makes for a more complex hero, too.

  3. Great blog, Steph. I admire authors who create such wonderful balance in their suspense/romance stories.

  4. Liana & Keen, I enjoy a complex villian as well. Makes for fun reading. Sherry, I agree - it's about finding balance which can be a challenge for a writer. Thanks for popping in ladies.