Maggie Mitchell

CRAFT: Make your characters memorable

Writing Romantic Suspense Part 2

Steps to Balancing the Romance with the Suspense

So now you have an idea as to how much romance you want to include in the suspense plot. What next?

It’s really important that both plot lines run not only parallel, but are entwined or integrated. To make the romantic suspense real to the reader the story cannot possibly work with just the romance, or just the suspense plot. They are both symbiotic parts of the story and cannot exist without each other.

This is the tricky bit and unfortunately it’s where a number of writers come unstuck. The flames of the romance need to be fanned to different heights throughout the story, but what is the best way to do this?

1. Make your Characters Memorable

The first step is creating the characters that will work well in a both a romance and a suspense. The hero should be someone who is larger, or more handsome, or more conflicted, or more silver-tongued, or more MORE…than the average Joe. He doesn’t need to be some huge heroic superhero, but he does need to grab you from the first glimpse. He’s the guy who’s got an axe to grind, or has more success with women than most. He’s the one with the killer smile and the sexy body like none you’ve ever seen before. He’s the millionaire because he’s worked his butt off all his life, or the rebel who’s great at his job but never gets promoted because he has such a bad attitude. He could even be the biggest nerd, but has an IQ off the scale. You get the picture.

Your heroine needs to be strong enough to deal with the circumstances thrown at her in the story however, she also should be someone your readers can relate to. She is the woman they identify with. She looks like them, or how they want to look, she has a similar job, circumstances, personality traits, opportunities, or they want to be like her. They want to be her. The hero is the fantasy, but the heroine could be you!

If the reader gets involved emotionally with the character, then the story will involve them to the point that they won’t want to put it down.


Write a short character chart for both your hero and your heroine, say 5 or 6 lines on each, if that is all you can think of right now.

Although it’s good to put in the physical traits, I want you to spend some time thinking what personality traits they have.

A good trick I use it to first visualize where they live…what sort of dwelling? House? Apartment? House boat? Hut?

Once you know where they live…close your eyes and put them there. What sort of furniture do they have? What books are on their shelves? Is the place tidy or messy? Are there photographs ? Who are they of? Is there music playing? What style?

What is their mood? Are they happy? Sad? Angry? Irritated? Hopeful? Lonely? Cynical?

What is their family like? Who are their friends? Where do they work?

I’m a visual learner so I find this method extremely useful in getting to know my
characters….I hope you do too…

3 Thoughts on “CRAFT: Make your characters memorable

  1. Maggie
    Thanks for another great post.
    What I find challenging is making my character likable. I have to fight against making her too strong, too pretty and/or too determined. But…I love the struggle
    You should think about writing a book about this.

  2. Thanks Jo-Ann
    I might just do that one day 🙂

    And yes, making sure the reader will like your character is always a challenge. I have a problem if I make them have too conflict then they can appear a bit whiny. I hate that!

  3. You are talking some great books and authors who have been great mentors to me. (Bronwyn and Helene). Looks ike you might like Jaye Ford if you like romantic suspense. (In case you haven’t found her yet.

Leave a Reply to Maggie Mitchell Cancel reply

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: