Whether you’re writing children’s fantasy or erotic romance, suspense is a necessary element of your novel. Suspense is that state of mental uncertainty that causes anxiety in your reader. They might wonder what will happen next, or they might even know what will happen (such as romance’s HEA) but not how. It’s that state of suspense that keeps the reader reading.
Following are a few tips on writing suspense into your romances:
- Internal Conflict
Well-written heroes and heroines will have internal conflict above and beyond what gets them involved with each other. This is what brings your characters to life, what makes them 3-dimensional. Reveal the internal conflict slowly throughout the novel in order to maintain suspense.
- Make Things Worse
Things should go from bad to worse for your MCs. If they take one step forward, they should take two steps back. It’s this constant tug that creates tension and keeps readers enthralled.
There should be clues in your writing that foreshadow things to come. This is especially effective if your clues are not too obvious. Consider including a few ‘false’ clues to throw your readers off.
- Conflict over Complications
Complications are things that happen by fate, such as a freak thunderstorm. You can include complications in your story, but the real page-turning suspense comes from conflict between your characters.
For a good primer on writing suspense (where I got much of this information), check out “From the Basement to the Penthouse: The ABC’s of Building Suspense”, a workshop given by Sharon Sala during RWA’s 2009 Conference.