Suspense

by Karyn Good

I don’t pretend to know all the tricks or tactics involved in crafting a riveting romantic suspense. I do know it involves creating a chilling sense of foreboding, nail-biting urgency, and the clear perception of what is at stake. My current work-in-progress is supposed to be a romantic suspense. Halfway through revision number one, I felt additional research was in order.

The following are some suggestions I came across on creating chills, urgency and learning to turn everyday places into death traps.

Create a worst case scenario. You know your protagonists best, you know how to hit them were it hurts. It’s our job to create the most authentic monster under the bed for each character.

Foreshadowing is a tool in which the writer lays out clues and gives hints of what is to come. Who can forget the soothsayer in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the grave warning “Beware the ides of March”? It can be a valuable tool used to lead (or mislead) but only when applied correctly. It is not to be overused and it’s important to let the reader be allowed to figure things out for themselves.

The power of the anticlimax. Lull those poor characters into a false sense of security. Have them hearing noises, seeing things, or imagining the worst and then … nothing. Until the next time.

Cast the suspicion of guilt on more than one person. Perhaps your plot allows for the possibility of two potential villains.

Going, going, gone. The practice of killing someone off and escaping sagging middle syndrome. I bet those scenes are fun to write. Time to break out the nasty.

Seldom does a character meet their untimely demise on a brilliant sunlit day. Use the weather to your advantage. Nothing says plunging knife alert like thunder and lightening, an empty house, no power and a character all by his or her lonesome. Cliché but effective. We equate weather with mood, danger, and a host of other things.

Queue the dark, dank, rat infested alley. Or the grain field with it’s shimmering rows of wheat running long side the deserted gravel road. Ah, the setting. Be it scary or innocuous, make it work to your advantage.

Don’t forget sound effects. They function as the soundtrack would in a movie. Don’t neglect any of the six senses.

There are other ways to create suspense. These are but a few. Combine these ideas with a few of your own and see if you can craft a cunning romantic suspense.