Writing Romance Suspense/Thrillers

Sep 6 2021, 2:00 pm in , , ,

In Romantic Suspense/Thrillers there are two distinct stories. The suspense/thriller and the romance. 

 A strong romance is woven together with strong suspense, mystery, or thriller elements to constitute integral parts of the plot.

 In this genre the action moves fast and the story takes place over a relative short period. I write contemporary thriller/action adventure and the stories take place over a couple of weeks and less. An author has to weave in a plausible romance and bring it to a satisfying conclusion (don’t forget part of a romance definition is the HEA or the possibility of an HEA) in a short timeframe.  Not easy to develop quick emotional and physical relationships.  

 If your characters are meeting for the first time on the pages of your story how can that plausible—I emphasis plausible—relationship develop so fast? What about the sexual aspect?  Characters getting between the sheets fast is crazy tricky. Of course, if the characters have a history, good or bad as long as they have a touch point of knowledge, it’s less complicated.

 If you plan on writing sex for a hero and heroine who just met it is important you know yourself and your own boundaries. Know what YOUR comfort zone is. If you can’t envision it, or don’t agree with characters getting hot and sweaty together fast, for goodness sakes, don’t do it.

 For example, I’m not comfortable with a 2o something woman meeting a man, two hours later being in bed and two weeks later being in a happy ever after relationship. Nor am I comfortable with someone that age knowing the man she’s just met is the one that fast. It would be impossible for me to give her the experiences that would allow her to make these decisions. Be clear here. I am NOT saying someone that age is incapable of making that decision, I’m saying I can’t write it to happen fast.   

 Ergo, I write with heroes and heroines over 35. They have experience. To my way of thinking —my comfort zone— they are more capable of making a decision about going into a sexual relationship after a short time and handling any blow back. A 36-year-old woman who has experienced a lot in her life knows the ramifications of hooking up.

 You MUST know your characters. What they will and will not do and why. I mean the down deep why. While these issues are vital in every story, it is even more important in the fast pace RS genre. You must know what circumstances will drive your heroine to hit the sheets quickly.  BTW I say heroine because I firmly believe she is the one who makes the decision as to the when and where.

 In my first book, Under Fire, the H&H go home together after they first meet. I totally knew my heroine. What event formed her values and beliefs and was behind all her decisions. The day the H&H met, she suffered two huge setbacks in her story goal. Going with him that night breaks all her personal rules but she decides to console herself with some sexual healing. Give in, just once, to her own needs and the reader knew this. She leaves his bed before he wakes thinking she will never see him again. In a few days this comes back to bite her. It also begins the resolution to her story goal. 

 As for the HEA in this story, these two people were NOT looking for a relationship but found something in each other that filled a void they didn’t know existed. As the author, I knew it did. Knowing your characters inside and out allows you to understand what they fear, what they want, and what they need. You use it to get them to work out their problems together and rapidly establish a bond. With each other’s help they face their fears, they change, and are rewarded with love and in the suspense novel get the bad guy in the process. This is an over simplification but I hope you get what I mean. 

 When the H&H have a sexual history getting them into a speedy relationship is always easier. In my third book, Point of No Return, two experienced intelligence officers from different agencies have an affair that lasted more than a year. You can read how they met in the prequel No Holding Back. The hero broke it off for his own misguided reason. They come together again working to find the same bad guy. With their history, the sexual tension lasts for only so long before they give in. Their HEA is very complicated. Again, I know them completely.

 Another way is to use what some call survivor sex. After two people share a near death experience sharing the life affirming act of sex is always a possibility. As an author, you can put friends, detective or business partners, who have worked together for years and know each other completely into that death experience and life affirming sex. The act changes a relationship to full blown love and HEA. On the surface this looks to be the easiest choice. Honestly, it’s the most difficult for me to write. To get a good balance of conflict you really have to know your H&H.

 I can probably come up with a hundred more scenarios but this is already too long.

Bottom line

  • Dig deep
  • Know yourself
  • Know your characters inside out.

                             What do you think?

                                                       Rita

   

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