Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Couldn't Put It Down: Romance Part 4

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!

This series has gone on longer than I expected. I must have more to say about romance than I thought. Today’s topic is suspense…

Note: I’m not talking about the genre of romantic suspense, but just injecting suspense in romance of any kind.

Have you ever read a book in which you were dying for the characters to get together? It’s so good, the wind of the turning pages hits you in the face. How do we do that? Here are a few suggestions.

The Accidental Touch
I use this early on, often before my characters know they care about each other. Imagine Hero and Heroine bickering on a boat dock. A wave rocks the dock, causing Heroine to fall into Hero’s arms. Bam! Tension, suspense. And omitting my characters’ reactions only adds to the suspense.

Unfinished Conversations
Hero’s and Heroine’s feelings have begun to bloom. Readers know they care about each other and need to confess their love. Hero begins to talk. His heart races. His hands sweat. Heroine leans in, ready to listen…

And an emergency interrupts. Ha ha ha! I’m so mean.

But a reader will have to keep reading, won’t she?

The Almost Touch
A little later in the story, they’re starting to give in to their attraction, yet still not quite sure how the other feels. Heroine trips, landing on her bum. Hero instinctively reaches to help her. Their eyes meet. Heroine’s hand moves toward his. They almost experience their first intentional touch, born of kindness—but then her father (or ex-boyfriend!) swoops in and grabs her hand instead.

So Close, Yet So Far
Emotions are boiling. Heroine aches in loneliness. She’s fought her feelings for so long, she’s weak and lonely, yet still determined to battle. And then, something throws Hero and Heroine together. They’re stuck in a storm, abandoned to an island, locked in an elevator. Oh how the reader longs for them to connect, to admit their feelings, to finally find happiness. But just when it looks like they might—ding ding. The elevator door opens and they’re swooped back into the real world.

End of Act Two Heartbreak
I know it’s formulaic, but it’s so powerful! At the end of Act Two, my characters break up. Something tears them apart with absolutely no hope of reconciliation. Their relationship is dead. My hope is that it’s so dead, readers curse me for leading them all this way only to have Hero and Heroine not end up together.

By now they’re so invested, they can’t help but keep reading. And then, the first scene of Act Three brings a wee hint of hope. (I don’t want my readers too frustrated!)

Are you catching why romance is so fun?

Next week I’ll finish up this series (Lord willing!) with my favorite part of all. (Can you guess what it is?)

Happy writing and God bless!


How do you create suspense in your romance? I’d love to hear!