Girls Write Out
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I've been a quandary lately trying to figure out exactly what I'm supposed to be writing. You all know I like to kill people in my books. I can't explain it, but it gives me a feeling of control in some sick way. LOL But women, including me, love to read about relationship. Love, romance, personal problems, all the fun stuff. And I always have that in my books. But what is the right blend?

More suspense, more romance? What is it about a book that keeps you turning the pages? When you read Jane Eyre, was it her relationship with Rochester or who on earth that creature was in the attic? The book I'm writing now, Abomination, has a serial killer in it. It also has romance and some other problems scattered through. The balance is always hard. So give me your opinion. Why do you read a romantic suspense book? What part is your favorite?
Colleen Coble  
posted at 10:46 AM  
  Comments (13)
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At 11:09 AM, Blogger allen said...

I think that any time you have a relationship in a story and there is a threat or sense of danger or a SERIAL KILLER ON THE LOOSE, there is a heightened sense of danger for the reader. Because the protagonist has a loved one, spouse, lover, what have you, there is the potential for that individual getting killed or maimed or kidnapped or tortured. We relate to the fear because we can place our selves in their shoes - "what if the serial killer was after my wife?" I think it's best to amp up the romance AND the thriller aspect.

Keep on killin' em.

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Lauren M. said...

I love both suspense and romance. But I don't like it when it feels like an author throws in romance just because it may be expected. Especially when it's so completely not realistic. If you put romance in, it should be a good story in and of itself. There are books in which the suspense part is awesome, but the romance part is stupid, so it distracts from the good suspense, which you can tell was the author's favorite part anyway. Was that a run-on? I'm suddenly very concious of my grammar, seeing as this blog is made up of four writers. :)

Blessings to each of you. :)

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Oh you hit my hot button, Lauren! I HATE it when in the middle of a tense, dangerous scene, the author puts in a romantic scene. Um no, that would be stupid in real life. LOL

Good insight, Allen! Thanks for your input, guys!

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Jaime said...

I was watching 24 (of which I am a junkie!) and was totally blown away when Jack Bauer (with 5 sec before the bomb is going blow) stops to discuss his love life with a pms-ing Audrey. Excuse me? Example of bad romance/suspense mix - as already stated, so now I'm being redundant.

However, I read suspense novels more if romance is woven throughout the book. John Grisham, though an excellent novelist, is more suspense and little romance and usually starts losing me becuase, as Allen stated, I'm not as invested in the character's well being becuase I don't see anyone else invested in them. However, that's personal insight so others may differ with me on that point.

Colleen, one of the reasons I've always enjoyed your books is becuase there is a balance between the two. Not overly sappy and dramatic, however it adds an emotional element to the story. In your books, I would tend to look for 60% suspense 40 % romance. I like a bit heavier on the fingernail biting scenes, but then that good old argument that ends in a surprise kiss that throws the heroine into a quandry is always nice too. If I had to take one or the other, I go heavier on the suspense.

Did any of this make any sense? I'm at work and my office got soaked with a leaky roof and all I can smell is mold. I think I'm high .... :)

At 1:37 PM, Blogger allen said...

In grad school I was taking aa boring Art History class and decided to read books I would normally never touch...I figured this would help keep me awake during the three hour lecture. Anyhoo, I read "Christine" by Stephan King and he did something that has always stuck with me. Toward the end of the story, the guy and girl are thrown together in a 'love story' setting as he rescues her from a demonic car...but the protagonist says in the final few pages that he and the 'girl' didn 't stay together "because this is life, not a movie."

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Robin Caroll said...

Kill 'em all! Get the body count up! LOL

Okay, I read suspense because it's an escape from reality. I get romance at home (don't give me grief) so I want the twists and turns and trying to figure things out. Sure, I like a little romance--it adds conflict and a little breather from the action.

So, for me personally, turn up the suspense.

At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Suzanne Schaffer said...

I know this doesn't help but my favorite part is trying to figure out who the bad guy is!

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Katherine said...

I enjoy the suspense because there are millions of romance novels out there and your mysteries keep me very interested. Dangerous situations give your books a reason to stand out when people face the very large shelf of romance novels.

At 11:10 PM, Blogger eileen said...

Yeah, Robin! I'm with you! Kill 'em. I like Colleen's books because of the suspense. (Fire Dancer had some OLD women in there, but it is really good. LOL) But I really like the figuring out who-dun-it and the mystery suspense part more than the romance.

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Rel said...

Colleen - contemporary romantic suspense is my favourite genre so it is no surprise that I have loved your books! As others have said it is better if the suspense is the stronger part of the book and the romance is a natural part of it. I particularly enjoy the romance that is subtle - not the heaving chests, passionate last kisses stuff but the romance that is more through what the characters intimate rather than actually blurt out and do! Dee Henderson does it perfectly in The Negotiator where the attraction is clear throughout the book and it isn't until you finish it that you realise Kate and Dave don't kiss until the last page (I think!). Of course, the suspense is fantastic too. What I am trying to say (NB. I am a reader not a writer!) is that underlying romantic tension/attraction is better than the overt and sometimes opportunistic romantic scene. Hope I am making some sense here!

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

You guys are as crazy as I am! Kill them, you say. LOL I promise there will be plenty of suspense moving through those pages. And you've given me some great advice about the romance as well. Thanks!

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the romance needs to be a complete story thread and the suspense needs to be a complete story thread. The romance is thrown curveballs thanks to the suspense (great way to kick up the conflict) and the suspense creates more of an emotional impact because of the love between the characters.
For me they go hand in hand while each fulfilling their own storyline. I do think there should be a little more suspense than romance simply because it makes for great conflict and emotional angst.

Kill 'em AND give 'em some lovin'. ;)

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Kim said...

I love it when the romance is intermingled tangibly through the suspense. I love a heroine who is brave but slightly vulnerable to her situation and a male lead who is not willing to take advantage of her vulnerability. Hate to see characters making out just because they can, but prefer the slow build up of feelings and emotions as the characters deal with the stress of their situation.

In short, I love suspense mixed with slow building romance.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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