by J.K. Coi
When I decided that Protecting His Assets was going to be a bodyguard story, of course that meant that there needed to be a reason why the hero would require a bodyguard, which meant adding an element of suspense and danger to an otherwise fun, lighthearted romance.
I wanted to make sure I didn’t overshadow the romance (or the fun), but that the suspense also had substance and believability.
Here are a few tips that I learned for blending the two:
- Don’t forget what your story is really about: In a true “romantic suspense” you could say that the story is driven equally by both the romance and the suspense, and that would mean a more equal balance of the two, but in this case, my story is first and foremost a romance. That means that the development of the characters’ romantic journey must remain at the forefront in every scene.
- Danger with meaning: Because a compelling romance relies on the inner conflicts of its main characters, the outer conflict is stronger if it can also be connected to those inner conflicts, and the suspense aspect should not be separate from this, but tie in so that all elements of the story weave together.
- A bigger threat: Similarly, while the suspense should develop out of the inner conflict of the character(s), the threat that this antagonist represents should not only put them in physical danger, but the prospect of it should threaten to destroy their relationship as well.
- No sacrifices: A contemporary romance has moments of humor, moments of softness, moments of conflict, and moments of eroticism. Adding the suspense elements should never take away from any of this, only add to it by upping the ante and the pace to add that sense of a ticking time bomb.
- Your readers must care: No matter how dangerous the situation your characters get into, the reader won’t feel that sense of urgency unless they care about the hero and heroine. Give them a reason to care, by creating living characters who come to life, who aren’t perfect, and who need to learn and grow.