Inspiration for romantic suspense

I’m in that in between stage at the moment. I’ve just submitted a novella to my publisher, Choc Lit, and I’m having a nice time, mulling over the story I might write next. I’ve been working on books featuring two sets of characters – one lot based in London and one in Cambridge. The novella I’ve just sent off was a follow-up to You Think You Know Me, set in the capital. The first full-length Cambridge book is due out in December.

One of the things I enjoy most, when I’m between writing books, is getting enthused by other writers. I’ve found some inspiring advice out there in the last few days, so I thought I’d share it.

I really like this short video by Mary Burton. It’s full of concrete tips to consider. She covers everything from establishing the stakes to the difference setting can make:

I like her ideas about mini mysteries alongside the key one, and her tips about pacing. I certainly wanted Anna, the heroine of You Think You Know Me, to be caught up in the mystery right from the start. I haven’t tried using Burton’s method of showing the killer’s point of view yet, but I think it could work really well in one of the stories I’m planning.

2303d-derwentwaterI also enjoyed Lisa Gardner’s Seven Secrets of Writing Romantic Suspense. When it comes to research though, I’m not sure I’ll go as far as volunteering in a mortuary… You Think You Know Me has an arts-world setting, and I’m happy to commit to wandering round galleries. Gardner makes similar comments to Burton about the importance of setting. I was conscious of this when I moved the action in my debut novel from frenetic London, which was perfect for the main part of the story, to the bleak beauty of the Lake District, for the denouement. There’s a definite sense of isolation there. The mountains mean even if you’re driving, you can’t travel at speed, and mobile coverage is patchy. The weather in the Lakes can also turn very quickly; tricky for walkers, but perfect for storytellers.

As part of my internet browsing spiral, I also found some interesting posts analysing romantic suspense as a genre, including this one by Laura Sheehan.

And this article on AutoCrit is great if you’re looking for romantic suspense authors to read – from the classics like Daphne du Maurier to modern bestsellers such as Nora Roberts. It also gives the pluses and minuses of writing in the genre, and explores different approaches to plotting. So far, all the stories I’ve written have had a whodunit element, and the reader doesn’t know who the villain is until the end. However, as the article points out, you can create a fantastically suspenseful story by showing the reader exactly who to fear, right from the start, but leaving the heroine in ignorance.

And of course, reading books in the genre also provides great inspiration. Given that it’s Saturday, I might just settle down with one…

There isn’t much excuse for this – but because I’m in between things and everything…

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