Does Romance Slow Down the Action—Adventure, Danger and Romance—Maintaining A Balance
By Alison Chambers, author of The Secret Sentinel
5 Stars and a Top Pick Night Owl Reviews
Available Now from the Wild Rose Press
Writing critics often maintain that love scenes tend to slow down the action, deaden the suspense and bring the plot to a screeching halt. I disagree. Since the romance is so closely interwoven with the suspense, one offsets and complements the other. If neither story is dull, both will work well together. But it is a delicate balancing act. You are essentially telling two stories—one built on top of the other. Keep them both lively, keep the reader guessing and in love with the two principal characters. Make sure something is happening at all times and not bogged down with excessive backstory, information dumps and useless conversation.
And since even the best writing instructors suggest that the reader take a breather after a particularly gripping and suspenseful moment, what better way to do that than with a romantic scene? However, many readers of romantic suspense (and there are countless millions) contend that this type of ‘action’ is very bit as exciting as the suspense that preceded it. Often this type of scene prolongs the suspense. The readers are not only stewing about the danger the characters just faced and what will happen next, they are also wondering about the romance just beginning to ignite.
Here are a few tips for keeping the reader turning the pages to keep the adventure, danger and romance blazing hot and working:
End as many chapters as possible with a cliffhanger.
Make sure the romance as well as the suspense continue to build, always keeping the outcome in doubt.
Make the backgrounds exciting and ever-changing—the desert, the jungle, a cave, an abandoned mansion, a raging storm—the more dangerous the setting, the hotter the romance. Let the emotions explode!
Make sure the romance and the suspense are both integral to the plot, never thrown into the pot, just to make it sizzle.
When you do have a romantic scene, tease the reader, adding a little bit at a time—the classic ‘will they or won’t they?’ Remember, the romance should be shrouded in mystery too.
Keep your eye on each main character’s goal. Desire should be strong and each chapter should make the goal less attainable, not more.
The main characters should be strong and ever changing for the better as the book progresses, though this doesn’t always happen in a straight line.
Set the romantic climax against a background of danger, smack-dab in the middle of the ever-deepening puzzle, then separate the lovers afterward to create the two ultimate black moments in the reader’s mind:
How will they ever survive? (answering the suspense question)
How will they ever get back together? (answering the romantic question)