Firstly, just a little about myself. I have several books published under a different name, but since this genre and heat level is different I am working as Maggie Mitchell.
My new genre is contemporary romantic suspense (well, actually old, since this is what I started writing and was always my first love).
So to start off I thought I would talk about my thoughts on writing romantic suspense. I'll be posting a few posts on the same theme so I hope you find them useful. I'd love to hear your thoughts too - do you agree with me? Do you have anything to add?
For me, it’s the heart stopping suspense, the thrill of the chase, and nonstop
action that heightens the emotion and intensifies the romance. Knowing that the characters not only have to solve the mystery and conquer the evil villain or villains, they also learn trust and in the process deal with the best and the worst in each other. This is one of the main attractions of the suspense story for me. Whatever the plot device, be it women in jeopardy, murder, stalkers,
terrorists, spy thrillers, how can the heroine and hero not fall for each other in these intense and emotional circumstances?
How much is the right mix of romance and suspense?
The problem lies in the balance between the romance and the suspense. How much of each is needed? Should there be two separate or one integrated plot? The short answer is that it all depends what type of story you want to write, and which publisher you are targeting. In the category market, some publishers ask for a 50/50 split of romance with suspense or a 60/40 split with more of an emphasis on the emotional growth of the characters. If your book doesn’t fit into these moulds they won’t publish it. This may sound unfair, but in category fiction it’s all about reader expectation. In most cases the reader is buying the series, not the author, so the guidelines need to be very clear.
Mainstream single title romantic suspense on the other hand varies from author to author. If you are writing a single title romantic suspense novel you have more flexibility with the balance of romance and suspense in your story. Shannon McKenna integrates powerful emotional and sexual relationships within her suspense plots, while for Tami Hoag the suspense or thriller plot is
Marketing of your book can play a part in your decision as well. Depending on your own particular blend of romance and suspense, you may well find your book placed on the crime shelves in the local bookshop as well as the romance section. This can increase sales exposure of your books. Many authors and publishers do this deliberately.
At the end of the day, you have to write the book you want to write. I believe that instinct plays a huge part in how you decide to distribute the suspense with the romantic or emotional plot line. Nora Roberts says you “just know” what is right for your story. I’m not sure that it comes as naturally as Ms. Roberts would have us think, but believing in your characters and your story goes a long way to making it the best darn story you can write.
• Think about what sort of book you want to write.
• Are you targeting a particular publisher?
• How much romance/suspense do you think your book requires?
Publisher submission guidelines:
Harlequin Guidelines (Intrigue and Suspense)
Entangled Publishing (Dead Sexy)
The Writers Marketplace