I am happy to be a part of this blog. I’ll be posting on Saturday.
My favorite kind of book is a suspense with adventure and mystery sprinkling in. When I write my romantic suspense books, though, I find I must think totally different from when I write my inspirational romances for Love Inspired. I have to analyze everything. I have to look at the story from all angles. I’m constantly saying what if or does it seem logical for the situation. Plotting a suspense is much more than delving into the lives of your characters. You must do that but you also have to make the suspense/mystery intriguing and plausible.
Over the next weeks I will post excerpts from an online class I taught on writing the inspirational romantic suspense. The first segment is the Introduction (below).
An inspirational romantic suspense has three main elements: a suspense or mystery, romance and faith element. For me that means I have to juggle three aspects of a story within a 275 page manuscript. Not an easy task and one that requires a lot of planning and thought. In a suspense pacing is so important. A reader expects to be taken on a merry ride where the hero and heroine are threatened, running for their lives, trying to solve something, trying to save someone. In a mystery, which I call a whodunit, the action might be more sedate but not necessarily. My stories often combine the elements of a suspense and a mystery.
A romantic suspense is usually fifty percent suspense and fifty percent romance. So often the problem arises when you are working your way through the suspense part of your book and you forget to have your hero and heroine fall in love. It can be harder to show it when they are being threatened or running for their lives. But if you have a furious pace throughout your book, it will overload your readers. I have read many romantic suspense books and there should always be moments of down time. That can be when you build the romance between your hero and heroine. Even when they are running for their lives, it is a good thing to keep them emotionally connected and aware of each other.
In an inspirational romantic suspense you must also delve into the spiritual growth of your hero and heroine. I find it is easier in a romantic suspense because of the heightened action and often the life and death aspect of these type of stories. We turn to the Lord in times of trouble and when we need Him. This can feed very naturally into your story.
But again I will stress because you have to juggle faith, romance and suspense, you must plan. In a lot of stories you will need to give false information and clues as well as real ones. Readers like to have a chance to figure out who is behind all the commotion in your story. I do realize some suspense (not mystery) books the reader will already know who the villain is and that is fine. An example is the heroine being stalked by an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend. She knows who he is, but she is in grave danger.
So where do you start? The first thing I usually come up with is a premise for my story. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a favorite setting like the jungle in Heart of the Amazon or an occupation in Buried Secrets. In So Dark the Night I came up with the premise what would happen to a sister who witnessed her brother’s murder and fled the scene with the killers after her. Or in Vanished, the premise was what would happen if a sheriff had to be both lawman and father when someone from his past kidnaps his daughter. Usually it is easiest to come up with some kind of concept and build a story from there.