Monday, December 6, 2010

Part I : What is a suspense novel?

Since suspense is a popular genre, often coupled with romance, I have created a seven part blog to share some of the important things to know about suspense. Wanting the perfect explanation, I searched online for a definition of a suspense novel and have found none that works for me. I’ve written a few romantic suspense novels that follows the suspense genre with romance added so here’s how I define a suspense novel.

A suspense is a novel that increases intensity as the main character faces deception and danger as he devises a means to overcome the threat from the villain. Suspense is made up of choices, twists, and clues. Readers experience of apprehension, anxiety and fear as they follow the main character. Suspense connects with readers when they identify with the plight of the main characters, and the suspense grows the more the are engaged by the choices of the main characters, the degree of good vs. bad, and an outcome that allows the villain receives his punishment.

Reading a suspense has common elements of a TV commercial breaks and chapter endings in fiction. Expectation. “What’s going to happen next?”

Suspense is edge of the seat questions: Who did it? Why? Is this a clue? How will the culprit be stopped? They are what readers call page-turners. Readers have a difficult time putting the novel down to go to bed, prepare dinner or leave for an appointment. And why? Because the story is a threat. . . to a person, a group or the world.

How do you create page-turner?
Through conflict with a prolonged solution creating tension and crisis. The longer it takes to resolution the situation, the greater the tension and suspense. Think: conflict, suspense, drama, surprise, resolution.

People often ask the difference between a mystery and a suspense, and writers will provide varying answers. This comparison of mystery and suspense offers information that helps define them both very well. Although some of the elements found in mystery can also be part of a suspense, this does provide good information. Follow these points to best understand writing suspense

Sixteen Differences between Mystery and Suspense
by Carolyn Wheat

A mystery concerns itself with a puzzle. Suspense presents the reader with a nightmare.

A mystery is a power fantasy; we identify with the detective. Suspense is a victim fantasy; we identify with someone at the mercy of others.

A mystery can be likened to a myth. Suspense is more like a fairy tale.

In a mystery the hero or heroine already has the skills he or she needs to solve the puzzle. In suspense, he or she must learn new skills to survive.

In a mystery, thinking is paramount. In suspense, feeling is paramount.

The most important action in a mystery takes place offstage. In suspense, the important action happens onstage.

A mystery usually takes place within a small circle of friends. The hero or heroine of a suspense novel often finds him or herself thrust into a larger world.

Readers of mysteries are looking for clues. Readers of suspense are expecting surprises.

In a mystery, information is withheld. In suspense novels, information is provided.

The ideal reader of mysteries remains one step behind the hero or heroine. Those who read suspense should be one step ahead of the hero or heroine.

Mystery readers expect a series. Those who read suspense know a book can be a one shot.

The hero or heroine in a mystery is looking for suspects. The hero or heroine in suspense looks for betrayers.

A mystery hero or heroine must confront a series of red herrings. The suspense novel hero or heroine faces a cycle of distrust.

Mystery endings must be intellectually satisfying. Suspense endings must provide emotional satisfaction.

Mysteries are usually three hundred manuscript pages. Suspense novels can be longer.

Taken from: Skillman, Trish MacDonald. Writing the Thriller. Writers Digest Books. 2000.

Next week:  Part II:  What is the structure of suspense.

About Me

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Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. She has forty-seven contracted novels with over three million books in print. Gail is the author of Writers Digiest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations  and presents workshops at conference across the US. Gail live in the Detroit area.

Writing the Christian RomanceGroom in Training (Love Inspired)Dad in Training (Thorndike Press Large Print Christian Fiction)Bride in Training (Love Inspired)In His Dreams (Michigan Island, Book 3) (Love Inspired #407)Loving Treasures (Loving Series #1) (Love Inspired #177)Loving Hearts (Loving Series #2) (Love Inspired #199)In His Eyes (Michigan Island, Book 1) (Love Inspired #361)Family in His Heart (Michigan Island, Book 4) (Love Inspired #427)Loving Care (Loving Series #4) (Love Inspired #239)Through The Eyes Of A ChildLoving Ways (Loving Series #3) (Love Inspired #231)The Christmas Kite (Steeple Hill Women's Fiction #2)Loving Feelings (Loving Series #6) (Love Inspired #303)And Baby Makes Five (Monterey Peninsula Series #1) (Heartsong Presents #770) 

A Dad Of His Own - Coming March 2011
Dad In Training, Groom in Training, Bride in Training - Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Monterey Memories - Barbour Publishing
Writing The Christian Romance - Writers Digest

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