Saturday, May 31, 2008

What makes a suspense?

I have been wrestling with my latest romantic suspense and sometimes not winning the battle. Finally after a lot of bruises and cuts, I think I've come up with what I want to do in the rest of the book. I think you can tell I'm a seat of the pants writer.

But as I was plotting out the story, I kept coming back to the question what makes a story a suspense. I would love to hear what others think makes a suspense. I need a sense of danger. It doesn't always have to be on the page, but the feeling needs to be there that danger lurks just waiting to strike. I however have to throw in a mystery element, too. I need a puzzle to solve.

So what do you like in a romantic suspense? Don't forget that if you comment your name is thrown in for the monthly drawing for the four current Love Inspired Suspense books.


Cara Putman said...

For me, a suspense needs to have that ticking bomb feeling. I want to race the heroine to the solution. And romance is nice, too, but I love the suspense element more.

Lisa Mondello said...

I agree, Cara. A good suspense is one that I absolutely can't put down. It's the one that makes me feel like I want to hide beneath the covers, but I can't because I have to know what happens next.

Pamela J said...

I can vision it in the eyes of characters in a movie, though how to write it down may be hard.

A scene where the hero and heroine who think they know each other and possibly have an attraction for each other but have kept information form each other for fear of what they do know. Then, they lock eye contact across the room and each realizes the other knows more than he/she should, though they haven't discussed it between themselves.

Of course the groundwork probably needs set before hand that each one knows though the other hadn't shared, but the realization that they both know the other knows and the perceived deception of the other, the knowing the other didn't share the whole story. And what does the other know that the one might not have discovered yet.

Why did a picture disappear from the wall in the hallway by the entry to the kitchen. Wasn't the picture of the lazy meadow with grazing cows and a single tree to the side just inconsequential? Where did the tiny paper with an unknown person's handwriting have to do with any of it? Where did it come from? Why was just the junk drawer by the back door dumped and scattered? What could have possibly been in there that someone would be looking for?

Maybe there wasn't a drawer dumped, just opened slightly when no one had been in the small apartment to have messed with it. But something looks different on the cabinet above the drawer, what could be missing? No one else had a key.

I don't know where this could take you, it has probably been already done by someone and I'm not an accomplished writer for sure.

I do know the element of trust gone sour for the romance along with something missing somewhere may help. Could become real complicated.

PamelaTracy said...

Pamela J's comment really hit home because the suspense I'm working on now, only the hero knows something is horribly wrong and the heroine is only getting vibes -when she finally gets it THE BLACK MOMENT Then, finally, the ticking bomb feeling is real. For me, a suspense is having to move toward the danger because even if you try to run away, it follows you.

Barbara Phinney said...

The ticking bomb feeling is an apt description for a suspense. I think that the hero and heroine really need to be in danger, as compared with a mystery, where they are only intellectually involved in solving the mystery. A suspense reader needs to feel the danger, not just try to figure out who the killer is before the heroine does.
A romantic suspense marries both the elements of danger with an inescapable attraction, that simply adds to the danger. The hero and heroine may lose their lives, but they may lose each other too!

Margaret Daley said...

Thanks. I love you all's description of what a suspense is.


Jessica said...

A suspense to me is a book that gradually builds up to an expected explosion. Like, I know something bad's going to happen but I'm not sure when.

Carol said...

I love waiting to see what is going to happen next! I love trying to figure out a mystery, too. A good suspense/mystery keeps me reading! I have to find out how it's going to end!

Karen B said...

It totally draws me in! Very often I can't book the book down and read it in 1 day.

Nals said... a combination of hints/clues/innuendos that make the reader suspicious of more than one individual in the story. Suspense hightens my need to (try to)solve the mystries before the end of the story.

Anonymous said...

Hi Margaret,
Suspense to me is that feeling of impending doom the author builds...they're the books you can't relax while reading. I especially enjoy them when the author throws in a few twists...but I've read a few where you know the villian and they can be great too.

Gina Conroy said...

Suspense gets my heart rate jumping and makes me keep turning the page. Add a little mystery and that's even better!

It's being one step ahead of the hero, knowing the danger without really knowing how things will play out!

Margaret Daley said...

I have to agree I enjoy suspense with a mystery element. It's the best of both worlds.


windycindy said...

Hello, There are certain books that grab my attention and keep it! To me, that is what suspense is. Characters that aren't predictable, thus you have to keep watching them. Cindi