Romantic Suspense - Is There Really a Formula?
As a published Love Inspired Suspense author—I have three books published and two more contracted with Love Inspired Suspense—I can say there really isn’t a formula. Honest. No official formula. But there are common elements in the books that you'll find in any good romantic suspense book. Sure there are a few things that if you know about them can help you appeal to the readers in this line, but an exact 2+2=4 formula? Not so much.
So without further ado, here they are. Drum roll, please.
1. The hero and heroine should meet as close to the beginning of the book as possible. On page one if you can manage it. Your reader has picked up this book for the romance and the suspense, so get them started on it as soon as possible. At the very least, they need to meet in the first chapter for Love Inspired Suspense. And don’t confuse the issue of who the main characters are by introducing too many characters at the beginning. Keep it simple. Stick to the two of them if you can until the reader knows for sure who the heroine is going to fall in love with.
2. But in a romantic suspense, the reader also wants to see danger and suspense, too, so open the book with a bang. No, you don’t have to kill someone, but you do have to show that danger is present and if possible, show that that the heroine or hero is in danger. Otherwise, what's the point? The reader, besides wanting to read a romance also wants to know something bad could happen to the hero or heroine.
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3. The hero and heroine's point of view should be as near equal as possible. Makes sense, right? As a reader, you want to know how both of them are feeling. You want to see them both struggle with why they can't be together. Additionally, for Love Inspired, the hero and heroine should be together as much as possible in the book. And when they're not together, they're thinking about each other.
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5. The danger or suspenseful situation must escalate as the book moves forward. The stakes need to keep getting higher and higher with a palpable pressure building until the suspense element is resolved. Oh, and don’t resolve the romantic conflict until after the suspense plot is resolved. Wait until the end to give the reader that happily ever after they have been waiting for.
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So there you have it. Tips from a Love Inspired Suspense author. So what do you think? Are these things you already knew? If not, are they helpful? And if so, which one is the most helpful to you? Or if you write for LIS, have I forgotten something or missed the boat?
Leave a comment and if you’d like to be entered in a drawing to win The Christmas Witness, my latest Love Inspired Suspense release.
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website http://www.thesuspensezone.com/
Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.
Connect with Susan at:
Her website: http://www.susansleeman.com/