Genre Month: What Makes Romance Suspenseful?

By Fay Lamb

There are elements that go into every great romantic suspense:

An Introduction of a Likeable Hero and Heroine

A romantic suspense is first and foremost a romance. So, the same rule applies when in comes to the introduction of a hero and heroine. While most rules can be broken by those who are intimate with them, generally the reader must meet the hero and heroine by the end of the first chapter or no later than the second. If possible, the couple should also meet within that time frame. These main characters must be likeable. Otherwise, forget the villain. Your readers will want to kill them for you.

Bolster the hero and heroine with personalities that will make the reader want the couple together. In Frozen Notes, the hero and heroine are in vastly different places, but they are both facing traumatic events: one a murder-suicide that leaves the character shocked and filled with grief. The other is an accidental overdose that makes the character want to live. The hero and heroine know each other. In fact, the hero’s long-ago actions caused both horrific events. Because both are facing an uphill battle that started with the demise of their relationship, the reader’s want these two together.

A Conflict Fueled Plot Driven by a Troublesome Villain (or Two)

Conflict is the fuel that drives a story forward. Without fuel, the story won’t even sputter and die. In a romantic suspense, this fuel is often what drives the couple’s separation, keeping them apart.

The conflict in the main plot of a suspense novel must be the villain (person or thing) that will bring danger to the hero and heroine. The villain’s actions may be toward only one member of the dynamic duo, but at some point in the plot, the villain must be a threat to both the hero and heroine. The conflict he or she brings to the story must build as the story moves forward.

In Frozen Notes, there is more than one villain, but all want what the heroine has hid from everyone. Yet, the heroine has only one of the items sought—the item that can hurt someone she loves. The hero has been entrusted with information that can bring all the villains down. The chapters build with the reader being made privy to new information—new twists in the story—with each scene building on the conflict.

 

 Pacing: the Right Speed in the Right Scene

I’m often asked the difference between a thriller and suspense. The difference is the pacing. Generally, a thriller moves quickly. The author uses short, clipped sentences or other techniques to develop a sense of urgency to the scenes, which amp up to a fast pace with a lot of action. The action might build to a point where the reader is clinging to the seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next. The key to this type of writing is to keep the characters in motion, fighting against conflict.

A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.

In Frozen Notes both techniques are used. In a scene where a shot rings out and a bullet hits the outside of the heroine’s home in close proximity to her head, you can be assured that time of the essence. The action moves quickly. Later, though, when a villain is holding the hero captive and he sees a way to get the gun out of the villain’s hands, the action is slowed. Each movement scrutinized, drawing out the scene for the reader. That’s the Alfred Hitchcock style of suspense, and when done correctly it works on the page just as it does on the screen. A student of romantic suspense will study these scenes to make sure that the pacing used is just right.

Oh, and no writer ever wants to hurry the romantic kiss. The key is to turn the slow pace of the suspenseful moment into one the reader wants to see occur rather than one the reader wants the character to avoid.

And last, we have our …

Happy-Ever After Ending

Spoiler alert: in Frozen Notes the hero and heroine have a happy-ever-after ending. I don’t mind telling you that because while the sweet kiss, lover’s embrace, or a poignant moment is nice, it usually comes at the end of the story. The heart of a romantic suspense—the part that an author wants the reader to remember—is the journey that got them to that moment.

So, find that lovable hero and heroine, put them into conflict with a villain or two, and amp up or draw out the suspense to take the reader on an adventure they will never forget. Give the hero and heroine a happy ending, and let the villain get what he or she deserves.

Click to tweet: A Month of Genre. Romantic Suspense post by Fay Lamb. “A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.” #Suspense #amwriting


Frozen Notes

Lyric Carter’s dreams of fame and fortune in a rock band ended the day Balaam Carter left to pursue their dreams without her. When Balaam’s brother promised to love and protect Lyric and to love her son, Cade—his brother, Balaam’s child—as his own, she believed him. But Braedon turned her dreams into a nightmare by killing Balaam’s best friend, turning the gun on himself, and placing Lyric in the middle of a criminal investigation that could leave her and Cade dead. Balaam Carter’s every dream has come true, but he’s living in a nightmare of addiction and regret. The famous rock star would give everything he has to return to the girl he once held in his arms—back when his only crime was running moonshine for his father.

Now, he’s seeking redemption for all the destruction his dreams have brought to the people he loves. No one said the road to recovery would be easy, but Balaam is also desperate to protect Lyric and the little boy he left behind from a state full of drug lords who believe Lyric has the evidence that will tumble their lucrative cartels. Balaam’s continued sobriety, his natural ability for finding his way out of trouble, and his prayers to God above for the strength to never let them down again are all that he has to protect Lyric and his son. And still, he doesn’t know if he’s up for the task.

Coming in April: Delilah

Myths and Merits of the Romance Genre

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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So, you think you want to write romance. I don’t blame you. The romance genre holds many wonderful opportunities for writers. Within romance, you can do serious, funny, suspenseful, or quirky stories, and the real plus, the readers always want a happily-ever-after ending. My favorite.

However, there are some myths about the genre that are floating around like bubbles on a sunny day, and they need to be popped before you settle on this genre as the one for you.

Myths

  • The Romance Genre is the easiest genre in which to write.

Wrong. All the same grammar rules and industry standards apply to the romance genre. It is no easier or harder than any other genre being written in the market today.

What should determine your genre of choice is what type of stories you love to read? If you love romance and stories that have a romantic subplot then you are a great candidate for becoming a romance writer, but if you lean more to adventure or science fiction and skip over the romantic sections, you won’t enjoy writing it any more than you do reading it.

  • With Romance, you only need to develop two characters.

Again, wrong. You may only write from the two main characters points of view, but just like any other genre, all the major characters need to be fully developed and well thought out.

Another aspect of romance writing that we forget is world building. If you write small town romances, you as the writer will have to build the small town. If you write about a character’s apartment or place of work, you will need to map out these places, so you can easily describe them in your novel.

  • The plot is not as important in a romance as the characters.

Do I need to say it? This too is a myth. No matter what type of story you write both the characters and the plot need to be believable. Though some genres are more character driven while others are more plot driven, both must run like a well-oiled machine. No holes, no clogged parts, no missing pieces.

  • The love will carry the story.

Emotional tension is the essence of good story telling, but the love in a romance can not be the only conflict or tension in the story. Your characters need baggage. Emotional, physical, mental, and any other type in order to make them real to the reader.

The love story should be powerful, but there must be more depth to the characters for the reader to be willing to go on the journey with the hero and heroine. Be creative in this area. Bring in something new and different for your characters to deal with in their daily lives. A handicapped relative, a retired parent, a critical diagnosis from the doctor, a crisis of faith, something that your reader may be dealing with in their own lives.

Now, that we have looked at the myths in the genre, let’s look at the merits. There are several advantages to writing romance.

Merits

  • It is the largest genre in the industry.

According to a Bookstr article in January 2017, romance was the number one best-selling genre clearing somewhere around 1.44 billion dollars. It is a large pond and plenty of room for newcomers to join in the fun.

  • Sub genres and tropes make the difference.

Another positive about writing in the best-selling genre is that there is a small sub genre for almost any trope you would like to write. If you want to write matchmaker romances, there is a sub genre for that. If you want to write billionaire romances, there is a place for that one too.  How about cowboy, boy next door, or fake relationships? They all fit as well.

  • Hope can be found in romance novels.

One of the best aspects of writing romance revolves around the encouragement romance writers give to their readers. Romance novels give hope. They uplift, encourage, rally, and entertain the reader through hard places in real life. They transport the reader to a place where even when its tough love conquers all. And for some, that is a place they need to visit to find a seed of hope for their own lives.

  • A Bond develops between the reader and the writer.

The romance genre weaves the threads of lives together to create a lasting bond, not between hero and heroine, but rather between reader and writer. Romance writers have a sacred trust with their readers. We will write a story that meets readers expectations of hope, love, and a happily-ever-after, and our readers will be loyal to return again and again to go on the journey with us. Romance readers are a loyal band.

Writing romances can be demanding just like any other genre of fiction, but the rewards far outweigh the frustrations. Once you’ve identified the myths that surround this genre and embraced the truth that any writing is work, you can better decide which genre is the right fit for you and your goals as a writer.

Remember, there are myths and merits in any genre. However, if you adore a sweet romance and you can’t wait to see how the hero and heroine end up together, then you might just be a romance writer who has found her home in the fiction world.

Click to tweet: The romance genre weaves the threads of lives together to create a lasting bond, not between hero and heroine, but rather between reader and writer.  #romance #amwriting

 

Writing Prompt: Maggie felt a little blue. She knew the next two weeks during Christmas would be hectic, but she consoled herself with the thought of the books she would take with her. Her own private world tucked in her suitcase.

Heart of Christmas bookAnnouncing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.  Available on Kindle and in Kindle Unlimited.

 

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre

Genre: What is it, and why do you need it?

According to Merriam-Webster, genre is: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.

The most general genres:

  • Epic
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • Novel
  • Short story

Classic genres may include tragedy, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, adventure, mystery.

Other major book genres are: drama, romance, action-adventure, thriller, young adult (YA), and dystopian.

I could go on all day, creating and populating these lists. Yes, there are that many, and I haven’t even mentioned the sub-genres. I could probably even come up with some sub-sub-genres.

Over the next few weeks, as sugarplums dance in your heads, you fuss over what to put in the children’s stockings, and marathon cookie bake (maybe that’s just me), we’ll be addressing genres here at Inspired Prompt. You needed a distraction, right?

Maybe you just completed NaNoWriMo and you need to sharpen the genre of your manuscript to get it ready.

A new year is beginning in just a few weeks. Maybe one of your resolutions is to finally start that book! But, how do you know what genre to write? Start writing and hope to find a niche?

It’s usually better to know up front, before you begin. The superheroes of Inspired Prompt are here to help guide you through the maze. Umm. Humor is another genre in fiction, by the way.

So, how do you figure it all out? Here’s a clue:

What do you like to read? If you love mysteries, you’ll probably write mysteries. I love historical fiction. Most of the books I’ve written have been…you guessed it, historical fiction. But I also write suspense. Historical suspense is another genre I loved to read, as a young adult.

Should you stick with one? You may want to begin with one. Become an “expert,” then try something else. Don’t be surprised, though, if you end up back at the first one. Some famous authors never write anything else. Stephen King, for instance, and Nora Roberts. Hey, it works for them.

Like the adage KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), sometimes it’s best to stay with what you know. Unless you’re miserable there and end up being a square peg in a round hole. Yes, this paragraph is overrun with clichés, but I hope you get the picture.

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Genre? It’s what we’re talking about in December. [Click to Tweet]

As we introduce our subtopics, I hope you’ll get involved by asking questions or sharing your own experiences and expertise.

If we have helped you with your writing, please let us know. That would be as special as a gift. Yes, one of the best of all gifts is to know that what you’re doing is of value to someone else.WRITING PROMPT: Suspense or romance? Add a sentence to this prompt to give it either a suspenseful slant, or a romantic one: The man outside Mary’s door stood with his back to her, but there was something familiar about him.

3 Questions Wednesday with Melanie Dickerson

Happy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes my friend, The New York Times bestselling author, Melanie Dickerson. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Melanie: Loving, romantic, hopeful. 🙂

The three perfect ingredients for a romance writer. 

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Melanie:  I’d go to Germany and visit all the castles I could. It’s the country I’ve been setting most of my Medieval fairy tale retellings, and I absolutely adore castles. And Germany has a lot of them! If a person can be in love with a building, I’m in love with several German castles.

I love them too. I have a castle Pinterest board. Now about travel…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Melanie:  This is a dangerous question at this point in my life! Hard to explain. At this particular moment it might be “Haters Gonna Hate” by Taylor Swift. Or “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash. Or one of my faves, “I Am No Victim” by Kristene Dimarco.

Great choices. And I love  the Kristene Dimarco’s song. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: The New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson talks about romance, German castles, and a giveaway. #romance #amwriting

Melanie would love to give away a digital copy of Magnolia Summer. Please leave a comment to be entered.


  Magnolia Summer

Truett Beverly returned to Bethel Springs, Alabama, after finishing medical school. Fighting a secret war with a corrupt lawman wasn’t in his plans, but when Sheriff Suggs threatens his childhood friend, Truett dons a cape and hood and becomes the Hooded Horseman, placing him squarely in the sheriff’s crosshairs. 

Celia Wilcox arrives in Bethel Springs in June of 1880. She’s come from Nashville to help her sister care for their younger siblings. She hopes only to be on the small farm for the summer, just until her mother recovers from the shock of Celia’s father’s death. She must return to Nashville in order to fulfill her dream of opening her own dress shop. 

Celia catches Truett’s eye from the moment she steps off the train. He finds himself wanting to impress her, but she flatly refuses to flirt with him or to fall for his—if he does say so himself—considerable charm. Truth is, Celia’s attraction to Dr. Truett Beverly terrifies her. What will happen when Sheriff Suggs discovers Truett is the Hooded Horseman? Will Celia’s greatest fears come true? Or will she be able to prevent the sheriff from carrying out one last lynching?


Melanie Dickerson is The New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for all things Medieval with her love of romance and fairy tales. She also loves Regency Romance and has drawn on her Southern heritage to write a romance set in the late 1800s called Magnolia Summer.

Her books have won the Christy Award, two Maggie Awards, The National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama and has taught children and adults in America, Germany, and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing stories of love and adventure near Huntsville, Alabama. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.MelanieDickerson.com.


Laura V. Hilton – Playing with Fire

Welcome back to Inspired Prompt, Laura!

Do you have any interesting writing rituals?  

Laura: I’m honestly not sure what you mean by rituals. I sit down in my chair, turn the computer on, critique someone else’s chapter, edit what I wrote the day before, then start writing. No music playing unless my daughter is listening to Pandora without earphones.

What is the book about? 

Laura: Arie Zimmerman has been in love with Noah Behr from almost the moment they met, but after a devastating wildfire destroys the community, everything changes. Noah questions how a loving Gott could allow such things to happen. As Arie and her family struggle to rebuild their home and lives, Noah escapes to California to fight another off-season wildfire—and maybe find Gott in the process.

When Noah returns, he promises Arie the prize money if she will help him with a chili cook-off to fund the fire department. Of course, in order to spend more time with the girl he loves, he’s also willing to pitch in unloading the new furniture and animals her daed bought at an auction. He’ll even help Arie slice and dice vegetables if he can taste test the recipes.

More than just the kitchen heats up as they spend time together. But will Noah find a still missing Gott in the process and discover there’s more to life than what he initially believed?

Thanks, Laura. What is your favorite part of the book?

Laura: When Noah tried to help Arie by chopping vegetables for the chili he got more than he bargained for.

Intriguing! So, is there a message in your book you hope readers will grasp? 

Laura: The one thing I always hope my readers “get” from my novels is God is. He does. He will.

That’s a great message for all of us to remember. Thanks for visiting Inspired Prompt and sharing more about your latest release.

Click to Tweet: Homeschooling mom and award-winning author, Laura V. Hilton is our guest today at Inspired Prompt. #AmishFiction #Romance


About the author–

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

About the book–

Plain Everyday Heroes: Playing with Fire by Laura V. Hilton 

Arie Zimmerman has been in love with Noah Behr from almost the moment they met, but after a devastating wildfire destroys the community, everything changes. Noah questions how a loving Gott could allow such things to happen. As Arie and her family struggle to rebuild their home and lives, Noah escapes to California to fight another off-season wildfire—and maybe find Gott in the process.

When Noah returns, he promises Arie the prize money if she will help him with a chili cook-off to fund the fire department. Of course, in order to spend more time with the girl he loves, he’s also willing to pitch in unloading the new furniture and animals her daed bought at an auction. He’ll even help Arie slice and dice vegetables if he can taste test the recipes.

More than just the kitchen heats up as they spend time together. But will Noah find a still missing Gott in the process and discover there’s more to life than what he initially believed?

Where can readers find you online?

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q 

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/   

Twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

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Purchase my books:

Amazon.com 

CBD

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