I was an okay romance writer. I’m much better at romantic suspense. And I love writing tension-filled stories with strong paranormal elements. When I’m asked what the differences are between romance and romantic suspense, here’s what I answer.
ROMANCE--The plot focuses on two people meeting, falling in love, working out their internal and external conflicts, and making a commitment to each other by the end of the book.
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE--The plot focuses on two people meeting, falling in love and working out their conflicts against a backdrop of danger and suspense. External forces threaten to destroy these people, but by the end of the book they triumph over the danger and make a commitment to each other.
THE TENSION OF THE STORY:
ROMANCE--Sexual tension drives the romance. These two people are falling in love and desperate to explore the physical aspects of their relationship. Even after they finally make love, the conflicts between them must keep their future together in doubt until the end of the story.
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE--In addition to the sexual tension, "danger tension" drives the story. These people are pursued relentlessly by sinister forces determined to destroy them. The tension of fighting to stay alive increases the level of their sexual awareness.
THE EMOTIONS OF THE STORY:
ROMANCE--The writer must make the reader feel the emotions of the h/h as they fall in love by using her skill at evocative language and describing the physical manifestations of love and sexual desire. (His touch set her on fire. Joy awakened inside her like a flower bud unfurling.)
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE--The writer must make the reader feel the fear and terror of the h/h with evocative language and descriptions that show us their physical reactions to fear and danger. (In the darkness, she felt as if a thousand insect feet were crawling over her skin. Icy terror gripped her.)
ROMANCE--The writer must bring the conflict between the h/h to a warm and satisfying resolution so that the reader knows these two people will walk off happily into the sunset together.
ROMANTIC SUSPENSE--Before the h/h can walk off into the sunset, they must confront and defeat the malevolent forces bent on destroying them.