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Romantic Suspense –a writer’s view
Why Write Romantic Suspense
I didn’t set out to write romantic suspense. I didn’t set out to write romances at all. I set out to write science fiction. The first adult novel I ever picked up was right after my father had put it down, City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke. I didn’t willing read in another genre for well over a decade. For another decade I read mostly classics. Then I mixed it up a bit, but I never read a romance. My first SF had a bit of a love story, not much, but it was there. My second one had a strong love story, just not a very good one.
I also didn’t set out to write suspense. I read the occasional thriller, maybe more than occasional. Then I started playing with how to build tension in my own writing. The more I worked to build plot tension, the closer I slipped to thriller and the more of them I began to read. By then I was writing what might be called science fiction with strong thriller elements and strong romantic elements.
I finally wrote a straight thriller with strong romantic elements. Then I sold it to a romance publisher! There was a shock. But my editor believed in the core story and in me. After several major redrafts, I had a romantic suspense. The thriller and romance plots are so intertwined in The Night is Mine (Book #1 of the SOAR series) that I couldn’t have peeled them apart if I wanted to.
Challenges of Writing Romantic Suspense
That’s the real challenge of writing romantic suspense. About the time I read my first romance, an author told me a great truth, “If you can peel the romance out of the story and it doesn’t collapse, then it’s not a romance.” That is doubly true of romantic suspense, if you can peel either element out, then it’s not romantic suspense.
I think this goes awry when one overwhelms the other; the thriller elements overwhelm the love story or vice versa. But what also happens is that then there is a loss of story. In romantic suspense there is a two-fold dynamic going on. To test it, I ask myself these two question, “How is the suspense driving the romance?” and “How is the romance driving the suspense?” If I can make them each drive the other, I know I’m on the right track. If the plot is forcing the characters’ love story into a corner. And if their initial refusal of and eventual acceptance of love forces the suspense plot to initially fail and ultimately succeed, then I have the kind of interaction that really brings the story to life.
A Few of My Favorite Things About Romantic Suspense
That’s perhaps what I like the best about writing in this genre. As the pressure increases we are forced to be both our worst and our best selves. My writing motto, the one on my wall which guides all of my writing, is “to Champion the Human Spirit.” Romantic suspense allows me to test that, challenge it, push my characters to their limits and beyond.
There, in that place of extremes, that is where the human spirit truly shines. The moment when we rise above that which we thought was too hard and we come out the other side all the better for it. It is where I try to push both my characters and myself every time whether I’m writing romantic suspense, a contemporary romance, or one of my science fiction novels as Matthew Lieber Buchman or thrillers as Matthew J. Booker.
I always want to believe the very best of people and what better place to do that than with the written word.
WAIT UNTIL DARK BY M.L. BUCHMAN – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2013
Name: Big John Wallace
Rank: Staff Sergeant, Chief Mechanic and Gunner
Mission: To serve and protect his crew and country.
Name: Connie Davis
Rank: Sergeant, Flight Engineer, Mechanical Wizard
Mission: To be the best…and survive.
Two Crack Mechanics, One Impossible Mission…
Being in The Night Stalkers is Connie Davis’s way of facing her demons head-on, but mountain-strong John Wallace is a threat on all fronts. Their passion is explosive, but their conflicts are insurmountable. When duty calls them to a mission no one else could survive, they’ll fly into the night together—ready or not.
Praise for I Own the Dawn:
“A rousing mix of romance and military action thrills…Buchman blends tender feelings with military politics to keep readers riveted.”—Publishers Weekly
“I can’t wait for the next book.”—RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Filled with action, adventure, and danger.”—Booklist Starred Review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M. L. Buchman has worked in fast food, theater, computers, publishing, and light manufacturing. It’s amazing what you can do with a degree in geophysics. At one point he sold everything and spent 18-months riding a bicycle around the world. In 11,000 miles, he touched 15 countries and hundreds of amazing people. Since then, he has acquired a loving lady, the coolest kid on the planet, and lives in Portland, OR. For more information, please visit http://www.mlbuchman.com/.
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