Since we all read last week how I write with passion, now you have a chance to learn how I add spice to my novel. Yes, I call suspense/conflict the flavor ingredients, because they are integral parts of your book's recipe. We all know the four parts of a book: The set-up, the response, the attack (I call it rising action!), and the resolution. For movies with three acts, the response and the attack are combined, and this second act is called the confrontation. (You could read more about this on Storyfix.)
I love reading and learning my craft. Writing romance is so exhilarating, but sometimes I like to research another genre so I could improve my own writing and add a little flavor. I think when you look outside the box, you experience another perspective you might not have noticed before. In my most recent works, you'll notice how I sprinkle just enough suspense in to keep my readers interested.
Here are 5 ways you can add suspense in your novel:
|Probably one of the most iconic suspense tactics.|
2) Raise the stakes and keep them high. Life gives us good/bad consequences no matter if we make wrong or right decisions. This also works for your hero/heroine. Without a crisis, or something causing them not to reach their goal, our books would be boring indeed. This is one of my favorite ways to add suspense, because in a way you as the writer are calling the shots. In my novel, there is a carriage crash, a fist-fight, a carriage chase, and a shooting to name a few instances where the tension is raised, but the plot is slowed down when this happens thus causing a complication. Don't hold back on your writing, readers could tell the difference.
3) Include many complications. I know stakes could count as complications, but don't confuse them with the pointy, wooden weapons we use on vampires! Use your antagonist to the greatest advantage. Not only is time against your hero/heroine, but the choices he or she made can create a dilemma. Ex: Alex grinned. All talk, no play, makes the bandits run away. Now that he was free and the woman was favorably shaken, he had two options: Escape, or free her from her controlling brother. From this example we see my hero has a complication. Whether he truly cares about the woman he wanted to free or not, his choice is not going to be easy, because he still has "her controlling brother" (the villain) to overcome first.
4) Create a memorable villain. Don't make your villain so awful that you'd want him to die off in the first or second chapter. At least, not yet. Drinking, gambling, and bedding wenches is a very mediocre way of describing him in a way where you are disgusted in his habits, but he is worth keeping around. Of course, other genres have different ways of showing their antagonist. Mysteries use a transparent villain to hide who they are until later, while an actual suspense wants you to know who he is right now. I think romance tends to mix the two or at least use either to the greatest advantage in the novel. No matter what you do with the villain, he has to be a worthy enough contender against the hero/heroine. In my work in progress, you find out fairly soon that the antagonist, Oliver Attwood, is the heroine's brother and has a firm dislike for the hero's family. These are givens. Although you know his ties with the hero/heroine, this does not set him apart from anyone else. You learn his intelligence and motivation later on. This makes him memorable. (Don't worry, women can be villains, too!)
Most readers care about the characters' journeys above all. We know a romance will end with a happy ending, we know the villain in a mystery will be discovered at the end, etc. The most important part of a story is how they got there.
Of course, mystery and suspense writers will give you more ways and an even broader insight into suspense, because that is what they thrive upon, but these are the ways I incorporate conflict into my romance. Many of the examples I give you are from my current work in progress, The Earl's Son. You may think I'm giving away pertinent information about the plot, but what I'm actually doing is showing you the spices I use for my recipe, not the main ingredients. ^_~ For more suspense topics not covered here and to read someone else's perspective, please visit: Writers Digest: 9 Tricks To Writing Suspense
When you think you can't, you can. When you think you can, you will. Never give up!
Do you use conflict/suspense in your novels? If so, please feel free to share some of your tips with the rest of us. I do love learning new tricks of the trade. :)