What makes a romantic suspense novel both “romantic” and “suspenseful”? I’m sure some would argue that there are hardcore “rules” for this, but I’ve read a lot of romantic suspense, and some are heavy on the romance, some are heavy on the suspense, some are balanced, and some sort of flip back and forth throughout. In other words, “romantic suspense” can mean a lot of things, from what I’ve read.
To me, romantic suspense is focused on romance budding/growing either because of or in spite of (sometimes both) a suspenseful event going on at the time. I tend to prefer novels where both pieces of the plot – the romance and the suspense – get fairly equal billing, and that’s how I try to write mine as well.
With that in mind, you can imagine my dismay as I was going through the Tempest hard copy, and came upon a point in the middle that is integral to the suspense of the story, but dropped the romantic tension as a result. Romantic tension is fairly easy to keep going as long as the characters are in close proximity to each other, but when the characters are separated for any length of time (say, through a kidnapping), it’s really easy to lose that tension, and with it, the momentum that drives the relationship forward. Or it is for me, anyway.
Figuring out how it happened is easy – I got wrapped up in the suspense for awhile, and just wrote through it. I read a lot of straight suspense/thriller novels as well, and that tends to bleed into my romance writing a lot.
Figuring out how to fix it is a little more difficult. The kidnapping and time spent apart is integral to the plot, so I won’t take that out. I’ll have to add something that keeps them connected even though they’re apart. Introspective thoughts, internal arguments, a dream or daydream, perhaps. Anything that keeps the attraction between them strong and growing to pull the romantic thread through the section.
Why not just let it drop for that little bit and pick it back up again? Because my endings are always happily ever afters. And you can’t have characters fall in love with no warning – there has to be something there, an attraction that grows and continues to grow naturally and logically throughout in order for a happily ever after to be believable. Or I need that in my own stories, at least.
Do you mix genres in your writing? Which ones? How do you keep the storyline balanced between two styles of writing?