Thursday, April 22, 2010
Romantic Mystery and Romantic Suspense
Some of my favorite books are romantic mysteries and romantic suspense. Although I write historical romances, I think I'd like to try a mystery or suspense, but it seems so challenging--as if other genres and subgenres aren't! The problem is I enjoy reading both suspense and mystery, so I don't know which I'd choose. There are quite a few differences that may not be obvious at first.
According to Carolyn Wheat who has written a lot about the differences, a mystery is centered around a puzzle while suspense involves a nightmare scenario. Thinking is paramount in a mystery, but in suspense, feeling, especially a spine-tingling feeling, is most important.
Even the characters differ. The hero or heroine in a mystery already has the skills necessary to solve the puzzle--some are police detectives, private investigators or amateur sleuths. But suspense heroines learn the skills to survive during the story and look for betrayers. They expect to encounter surprises and they're not disappointed. In a mystery the detective looks for suspects and clues.
The experiences are different for the reader. Can you guess which one is more emotional and which one is more intellectual? Yes, it's easy. And mystery endings must provide intellectual satisfaction while suspense gives us emotional satisfaction.
In a mystery the author wants the reader to be one step behind the hero, but in a suspense the reader should be one step ahead so fully anticipate and appreciate what's coming next.
For those of you who read romantic mysteries or romantic suspense: which of the two subgenres seems most romantic? Which do you prefer?