Exploring Romantic Suspense: Plots

When I picked the subject of this week’s post, I thought, “Yeah, that’s a logical next part of the story to talk about.” And then I sat down to ruminate on pa—um, screen as usual, and discovered that what I thought I was going to explore isn’t at all what I thought it was. This directly mirrors my own writing, because I never have more than a very vague plot in mind when I start writing. It grows rather organically, and to be honest, I rarely know how the plot is going to evolve until I’m well into the story. I’m just about at 30k words on The Biker’s Wench, and I didn’t have a good grasp of the plot until the 25k mark or so. Yes, I sort of scene outline the first part, but the story always changes. Always.

If you think about that for a few seconds, you’ll realize that my mind is a pretty scary place, considering some of the things it throws at my characters before I know what the story is really about. You’ll also realize that my characters create their own story – I just watch it unfold and kick-start it when it stalls.

In any case – a good plot for me equals major problem + conflict times ten. For suspense, I figure anything that plays on the fears of my characters will do the same for the reader, creating that immediate tension that we read suspense for. Many good romantic suspense novels I’ve read center around a threat to the life of a main character. Because let’s face it – the last thing any of us want to do is die, and we generally don’t want characters we like to die either.

What are some of the other romantic suspense plots you’ve noticed/read, and what fear of yours did it play to?

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4 comments on “Exploring Romantic Suspense: Plots

  1. netta

    I’m a “pantser” myself. I’ve tried writing to outlines but it never goes according to plan. I have a general idea about what’s going to happen, and sometimes I’ll plot as I go, but the characters generally dictate the course of action. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to do things — it’s what works for you creatively.

    For tension, death is a good one, but so is loss — either physically, mentally or spiritually. Although, losing weight doesn’t fall in to that category 😉

    The general philosophy I have about tension is to make things really bad for the hero/heroine, then make them ten times worse. It’s difficult to do when you’ve come to like them, but it’s your job.

  2. Dolly

    While I am certainly developing my process – my current process seems to be spending a lot more time on outline. My current new WIP is the first where I am actually beginning with an outline from scratch, so it will be an interesting experience to see how things work out. But I think I am definitely more inclined to spend a lot more time in the beginning, get the plot sorted, and then write. Things may change while writing the story, but I am willing to take that risk.

    I don’t really read category romance any more, but J. D. Robb’s Death series is my favourite. Perhaps more crime than romantic suspense, but it’s combined with romance anyway. Totally love it.

  3. India Drummond

    I think every author has to allow themselves to think their own worst thoughts, explore their fears, and go the mental/emotional places most of us would rather not go. It’s what makes a story real… and adds that suspense *every* story needs.

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