Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Light or Dark Romantic Suspense: Which Is Which?

What’s the difference between light and dark romantic suspense? The dark side tends to have a lot of blood and gore. The reader is often able to see the victim brutalized, tortured, and murdered. Many times, the author will start with a scene involving the crime, usually rape and/or murder, so the reader’s pulled right into the story. This is either written in the killer’s POV or the victim’s.

However, the light side of romantic suspense usually starts with the hero or heroine’s “normal” life. This type of r/s doesn’t have to include the villain’s POV at all. In fact, the reader may not even know who the stalker/killer is until the end. Another difference is the way the gore is depicted in a light r/s. While the reader may see the dead body and blood everywhere, they won’t witness the murder.

I read and write both types of r/s and what I prefer really depends on my mood and the story itself. My current WIP (work in progress) is a light romantic suspense novel and my problem lies in the first chapter. I have three possible places to start the story and have had all kinds of opinions as to which works better. So, I thought I’d through the question out to you. Where should I start? Your answer, I’m assuming, will have something to do with the type of reader you are. Do you prefer:

1)to have the setting set-up and get an idea who the character is before the action starts? (I’m not talking about a setting dump here, where the author goes on and on about the weather or the character’s surroundings.)

2)to start with a hint of the suspense-type conflict?

3)to have the hero and heroine meet immediately?

I’ll post more tomorrow on this topic with examples of each beginning. Then, you can choose which works best with my writing style.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the explanation, Lynette. I prefer option 2, but I think it will depend on where your story goes from there.

    Karen
    http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm a hook-me-first type of reader-#2

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  3. As a reader, I want to jump right in the conflict. But as a writer, I feel that one needs to get it out, whichever way it comes out, then reframe, rewrite, and build scenes through dialogue and action.

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  4. I like a chance to see the character in their natural setting first. Get to know them for a brief moment before the action.

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  5. I prefer a combination of 2 and 3. I like just a little hook to launch me into the story. I also enjoy the character interaction between the hero and heroine, particularly in romance, so the sooner they meet the better!

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  6. I would definitely say start with number two, in the middle of the conflict! Looking forward to seeing your samples tomorrow.

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  7. My novel is definitely #1, with action as part of her normal life. I'm definitely a light romance reader.

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  8. Thanks for the explanation! :)

    For me, so long as the voice grabs me, I don't really mind how a story starts.

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  9. For a romantic suspense, I'd say number two, but I'd have the hero and heroine meet very soon after the opening.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking questions!

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  10. I'm also more of an option 2 person. I enjoyed the explanation.

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  11. If it's the book I think you're talking about - I like what you've already done. We get an immediate sense of her state of mind, the hero/heroine meet, and then there's foreshadowing of the conflict with plenty of romantic tension building up.

    But hey, I don't read much romance, so what do I know...

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  12. I like both. Is that cheating?

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