Workshop Report: Plotting the Romantic Suspense Novel

Do you like to kill people in your books?  Or at least strew a dead body or two around?  Then Annie Solomon’s “Plotting the Romantic Suspense Novel” workshop is for you.  Boy, do I wish I had attended this one before I started Music of the Night.  It took three tries to get that book right.  Annie’s advice would have saved me the first two.

Here’s a sneak peek into the excellent ideas Annie gave her students:

Required characters: Hero, Heroine, Dead person, Villain.

You must define the hero and heroine on a professional level that makes it a requirement that they be involved in the investigation almost all the time.  You may choose to have them be: investigator, suspect, witness, lawyer, actual or potential victim, competing investigator, or bodyguard, etc.

Then you must go beyond that.  If the heroine is the investigator, WHY is she involved in this case?  What are the stakes for her?  Possibilities: the victim is a friend/relative; solving the case will earn her a promotion; she’s assigned the case as punishment for a previous screw-up; the case is related to a crime she worked on in the past.

Also, give the victim some attribute(s) which relates to the hero/heroine, so that there is a personal stake in the crime.

In romantic suspense, it is important to keep the hero/heroine together physically.  You can have them in a safe house or have one be the bodyguard for the other.  If you make one of them the suspect, then the other must find admirable traits in him/her that contradict the suspicious evidence.  Events in the romance can bring those out.

The two stories–romance and mystery–merge when trust and commitment enter the relationship.

Annie told us lots more, so I recommend you catch her workshop at another conference, if you can.


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