Monday, August 15, 2011

Scare me to death...please!

Hi...I'm Ally Robertson, an editor for the Crimson Suspense line. 'Suspense' is the operative word here. I receive countless submissions that just aren't suspenseful enough. We need danger...threats...maybe a little violence...yes, even death. I want you to keep me on the edge of my seat. I want you to make me worry for your characters. I want your bad guy (or girl) to give me chills. Of course, there has to be romance--we're a romance publisher, after all. But, in the SUSPENSE line, I also need some danger and devastation. I need to see it soon, too. If your character hasn't experienced anything harrowing in the first chapter, you don't have a suspense.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how soon the danger should come, but the first scene is an excellent place for it. I will, however, settle for the first chapter. I've received partials of the first three chapters where absolutely nothing frightening or the least bit worrisome happens. Sometimes, the writing is good and the romance is good. In that case, it's probably just in the wrong line.

If your heroine has a psycho ex she's running from, just having her mull over all the bad stuff he did to her in the past isn't enough. Something should happen early in the story to at least make her think he's caught up to her. A dead body is always good...not literally, not in real life, but in your story. If, for example, someone the heroine knows dies under suspicious circumstances, if it looks like psycho ex could be involved, you've probably got a suspense.

Some examples where you likely don't have a suspense are, first and foremost, if nothing threatening or mysterious happens in the first few chapters. Or, if nothing happens during your story, period. For example, if you have a story where the townspeople talk about killings that took place years ago, and no one is in danger now, you probably don't have a suspense.

So please, before you send us a suspense story, make sure you hurt or kill or maim someone (IN YOUR STORY, THAT IS), or at least severely threaten and/or terrorize them. And do it soon. Otherwise, you might have a stellar romance...but you just don't have a suspense.

Ally Robertson
Crimson Rose - Suspense and Intrigue


Barbara Edwards said...

Nice explanation of what a suspense needs to be. thanks,

allywildrose said...

You're welcome. Glad you found it helpful. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Oh my, I was worried I had too much blood and gore in my latest. Guess I don't have to. LOL

allywildrose said...

LOL, Jannine. Not at all. I'm into all that blood and gore. I have had to tame some down for TWRP in the past, but so far, yours isn't one of them.