From the pen of Evonne Wareham
Choc Lit sent me an e-mail. As they do. How about giving us some tips they said – How to write romantic suspense?
Fine I thought – no problem. So here it is – my top ten list.
Whoa! Wait a minute. I can tell you about how I write romantic suspense, but it might not be how you would write it. We’re all different, which is a Good Thing, as the world would be full of books that are all exactly the same, which might be a bit boring, after a while.
So – to start again. Here is my list of thoughts about writing romantic suspense. Things you might like to take into account as you write, or if it’s a genre that you’re wondering about. But it’s your book.
1. Are we having fun yet?
Write something you’re going to enjoy. You’re going to be keeping company with these characters for quite a while, so you have to start off liking the idea. It’s fine to experiment and explore different genres, to find the one that is the best fit. Is romantic suspense right for you?
2. Are you a good juggler?
Romantic suspense mixes the ingredients of a romance and a thriller, in roughly equal measure. So you have to be happy with doing both. How you arrange it is up to you, but they do have to be intertwining parts of the story.
3. Do you have criminal tendencies?
Most romantic suspense has a crime at the heart of it, so you have to be comfortable with writing about it.
4. How good are you at killing people?
On the page! On the page! This is one point where you do not do personal research. This is where imagination comes in. But it can be disquieting, when you read back what you have written and wonder where it came from. Creating evil villains can be disturbingly rewarding. Or maybe that’s just me?
5. Out damned plot!
How much of a plotter are you? Do you enjoy it? I used to think I was one of those who wrote into the mist – in vulgar parlance, a pantser. It gradually dawned on me that I wasn’t. I was a plotter who didn’t put pen to paper until the high points of the action were all worked out in my head. If you enjoy plotting, then romantic suspense is a good place to do it.
6. Warm, simmer, sizzle, volcano?
Only you can decide on your comfort level when writing love scenes. But there are a couple of things to think about. The love scenes are an essential part of the action, part of the character development of the hero and heroine, right for them and for the plot, at that time. In this, the romantic suspense setting can be a help. Your hero and heroine are in extreme situations, probably with their lives being threatened. That can make things happen faster and in a more intense way. And if the heroine has just been hiding in a small space, with this exceptionally hot guy
7. Go on, thrill me. I dare you…
If it’s a thriller then you’re talking roller coaster, nail-biter, more twists than a corkscrew. And if you can do it, a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter.
8. That is sooo romantic.
While the hero and heroine are running around, saving the world, they also have to fall for each other, in a big way. So you need all the ingredients of romance as well as thrills and spills – the misunderstandings, the arguments, the hero who has problems making a commitment, the heroine with a dark secret in her past …
9. My hero … Swoon.
Choc Lit like their books to be written at least in part from the hero’s point of view, which is great, as you get to write about what he is thinking. I love watching the poor guy falling for the heroine and not knowing what’s hit him. I go for the mysterious type, alphas, but not overbearing, strong and capable and very protective of the heroine. Those are my choices. Have fun making yours.
10. And heroine?
If I have one pet hate when I’m reading, it’s a wet heroine – the ‘too stupid to live’ kind. I try to write independent women who can run their own lives, but who recognise a situation that is too big for them to handle alone. Part of the challenge of writing a heroine who can stand on her own feet is making her vulnerable in the right ways.
That’s it. My ten thoughts. I hope they help and if you’re writing romantic suspense, or thinking about it, that you enjoy the journey.
Evonne Wareham was born in South Wales and spent her childhood there. After university she migrated to London, where she worked in local government, scribbled novels in her spare time and went to the theatre a lot. Now she’s back in Wales, living by the sea, writing and studying a PHD in history. She still loves the theatre, likes staying in hotels and enjoys the company of other authors through her membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Evonne’s debut novel, Never Coming Home won the 2012 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award, the 2013 Colorado Romance Writers’ Award for Romantic Suspense, the Oklahoma National Readers’ Choice Award for Romantic Suspense plus was a nominee for a Reviewers’ Choice Award from RT Book Reviews. Evonne’s novels include: Never Coming Home and Out of Sight Out of Mind.