Keeping the Pages Turning in Romantic Suspense (Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way)

Revisions on my current manuscript have been torturous. Murky, slow and agonizing. Why? I blissfully (stupidly) ignored the tenets of what makes a romantic suspense a real page-turner. To the point where my agent, after having read the first 55K words, essentially said, “Well it all hangs together, but it reads like a contemporary romance.” Ouch. That’s not to say that contemporary romances are dull—in fact, they are some of my favorites to read. However, if you grab a romantic suspense, you expect to be biting your nails. NailBiterGal_124527807Or, according to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia’s definition: Suspense is a feeling of pleasurable fascination and excitement mixed with apprehension, tension, and anxiety developed from an unpredictable, mysterious, and rousing source of entertainment. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Below, I’ve shared the 11 best methods I’ve found to enhance suspense. No need to use all of them at once, nor are they listed in order of importance. Simply pick a few, make them integral to your story, and viola, readers will burn dinner because they snuck a few pages while standing over the range. The extra bonus? The same elements, ahem, make the story far easier to write.

1. A Solid Conflict. Opposing forces. Absolute must do’s. No other options. Any story in any genre will fall flat without well-constructed conflict. The simplest formula I’ve seen is Madeline Hunter’s: She MUST DO SOMETHING, and He MUST STOP HER from doing it.

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