GUEST POST by JENN FLYNN-SHON
Creating Romantic Suspense: How to Bring Romance and Suspense Together
Think about the last romantic comedy (RomCom) you watched or read. Funny, light, uplifting and despite the very bad thing that happens between them, the girl usually always gets the boy in the end. Now, consider a favorite thriller be it in print or on the screen. Dark, tense and fraught with danger the main character sometimes dodges death several times before the end. What could these seemingly different genres have in common?
While some might scoff and say there’s nothing similar about a RomCom and a Thriller I beg to differ. Both of these genres use drama and tension to capture the essence of the heart of the main characters. As a writer of Romantic Suspense – a genre that blends Romance and Suspense seamlessly – I had to find an effective way to incorporate both. So how did I achieve it? I used the drama within the storyline of the main characters to turn the genres into ideal bedfellows. Pun intended.
Let’s first look at RomCom but remove Comedy from the equation so all that’s left is the Romance. In Romance there is always a grand and sweeping love story and something over the top occurs which pushes characters worlds apart yet forces them together. This is done as a device so they can discover what they really wanted all along was to be together. Most of the time Romance has a happily ever after (HEA) ending with the lead characters riding off into the sunset. But HEA sunset rides are a stark difference to how a thriller might end.
Because of this I had to remove the scariest parts of thriller but keep a healthy dose of tension while my main characters were on the run in my novella Reckless Abandon. By taking out the chilling edge of a thriller, but maintaining its frenetic pace, you’ll come away with Suspense. This was the exact feeling I was going for – chase scenes, tracking clues to solve a mystery and dangerous moments which thrust my main characters Shaw and JJ closer together.
Did I mention that JJ was Shaw’s first love? Someone she was engaged to over twenty years ago but hasn’t seen since she left him behind in Phoenix to pursue a Writing career in New York City?
A pair like this with bitter feelings for the past but who have grown in leaps and bounds over two decades are suddenly tossed into close quarters on a potentially life-threatening manhunt across the country. This story is ripe for a little residual romance to bubble up to the emotionally heightened surface.
The trick is how to balance the propulsion of the plot – the suspense – with the obvious attraction without them ending up making out in every other scene. Because that wouldn’t be real enough to be believable. Oh, did I also mention that Shaw is married and that the manhunt is to find her missing husband, Danny?
Right there is where tension comes into play in Reckless Abandon. When morality and ethics meet the place where the heart and head are divided is exactly how to keep Shaw and JJ together yet apart. He’s spiteful over her leaving so long ago but it isn’t a feeling he’s held onto over the years, it’s only something that hits him upon seeing her again. She’s nervous to call him but after witnessing a murder in her home – of a cop no less! – she suspects dirty police involvement in her husband’s disappearance and JJ is a Private Investigator who can help her in her desperate time of need. He’s the only one she can really trust.
I think it helped the believability of the growing fondness between Shaw and JJ that they had history. They were already intimately familiar with each other from years prior and that established the attraction no matter how hard they tried to deny it to each other or themselves. And being forced into life-threatening danger heightens emotions. In this case, all of their feelings are intensified.
So the real question is – do Shaw and JJ give in to the mounting sense of urgency to consummate the attraction that’s increasing between them or do they find Danny before they have the chance?
About author, Jenn Flynn-Shon
Hi, my name is Jenn Flynn-Shon and I’m the Author of two books (Ripple the Twine, Reckless Abandon), a Chapbook (Trying for the Moon), multiple Zines, and Randomness and Lunacy (a digital-journal blog).
I’ve been writing since age eleven and began penning fiction by age thirteen. My first publication was a poem published under a pen name in Bop Magazine in 1989. Since then I’ve had articles and interviews published online and in print.
I’m a two-time winning participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) (2009, 2010), an active member of the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and Arizona Authors Association.
When I make time to relax I love to hang out with my husband at our home in Phoenix, AZ, explore the country on road trips, watch my Boston sports teams, share laughs with friends and family, and read everything from blogs to novels. I make a point to write daily, and I’m a shameless self-promoter.
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