Geri Foster: Tips On Adding Tension To Romantic Suspense

I first met Geri Foster when I joined Yellow Rose RWA. She is president of the group.  It’s with great pleasure that I welcome her to RUBY ON Tuesday. She writes Action-Romantic Suspense  and the first two of her books in the Falcon Security Series have just debuted.  OUT OF THE DARK and OUT OF THE SHADOWS are available on Amazon.com. Today she shares some of her tricks on how to keep up the tension  in the romantic suspense genre. Let Geri know you came by today by leaving her a comment. She loves to hear from readers.

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Many people ask me why I chose to write strong, high suspense stories, with Alpha men. The answer for me is simple. I love action, in movies and books. I read a lot of thrillers and study their techniques for fight scenes and the weapons they use to convey action to their readers.

It isn’t always the action that pulls you in, it’s the tension and conflict you weave through the story that keeps the readers turning the page. That means I plot the story so I know when the characters hit a wall, I can turn them around and head them in another direction.

Tension heightens your senses like laugher, and being frightened. If you don’t know who’s going to walk out alive, you will finish a book to find out. Also, tension makes you think, what’s going to happen next. How much more trouble is the author going to get the characters in before it all falls apart. So, part of your internal tension is, can the writer pull this off. The answer is yes, if she’s planned everything just perfect and she saves a big surprise for the middle of the book that takes the story into a different direction. Often it’s a secret either the Heroine or Hero keeps hidden until the time is ready for disclosure.

So, tension involves the plot of the book, the pace and the outcome. Never give your reader the opportunity to put down your book, and you do that by making every page sizzle with tension and suspense.

How do you add tension? By looking at your story and asking, what would the reader least expect to happen next? What are they waiting for? What twist can I throw in that completely changes the story? That’s what tension is all about.

Don’t ever do what’s expected. Imagine ten things that might happen then chose the eleventh idea. It’s usually the most difficult to pull off, but it’s also worthy of your reader’s appreciation.

Make your reader wait. In fiction writing some authors tell you everything up front. That makes it too easy for your reader to figure out the entire plot. Once that happens, you’ve lost a reader by becoming too predictable. So, make them wait as long as you can. You do that by not slamming them over the head with something.  Subtlety is the best friend of a Romantic Suspense writer.

Lastly, to keep the tension, always think of conflict. Then plot your story so that at each turning point something happens that raises the stakes and gives the characters more to lose. Give them what they want. This coupled with the conflict  means that they will push harder and harder against each other until they reach the climax, the obligatory scene where they meet for the last time, at which point one of them will be finally and irrevocably defeated.  By that I mean everyone involved in the story must receive the right punishment or reward. The bad guys suffer and our Heroine and Hero get their satisfactory ending which should make us want for more and turn the page.  So try not to end with H/H going to sleep, have them keep the conflict alive to the last page with a good hook.

What helps you create and ignite that all important spark of tension? is it chemistry, intimacy, plot, or conflict? What makes it work, or not work, in your own writing or in books that you’ve read?

About Geri:                                                                                                           As long as she can remember, Geri Foster has been a lover of reading and the written word. In the seventh grade she wore out two library cards and had read every book in her age area of the library. After raising a family and saying good-bye to the corporate world, she tried her hand at writing. To her surprise, she won a couple of contests, hooked up with a really great critique group and her writing career was well on its way. She spent several years studying her craft and developing her voice.

Action, intrigue, danger and sultry romance drew her like a magnet. That’s why she has no choice but to write action-romance suspense. While she reads every genre under the sun, she’s always been drawn to guns, bombs and fighting men. Secrecy and suspense move her to write edgy stories about daring and honorable heroes who manage against all odds to end up with their one true love.

About her books:

Out of the Dark (2)OUT OF THE DARK: After a Russian mission goes south, Falcon Securities agent John ‘Mac’ McKinsey is stranded with assassins on his trail. His boss arranges for him to hitch a ride with corporate attorney Emily Richards, who is in Russia as a mediator and she isn’t too happy that Mac has entangled her in a life and death situation. Together Mac and Emily engage in a tumultuous ride to escape with their lives and capture a crazed bomber and a vindictive drug lord. More difficult is tearing down their own emotional walls. Can they succeed and admit love is the most precious thing in life.

Out of the ShadowsOUT OF THE SHADOWS: Falcon Securities Agent Brody Hawke’s best friend, A.J, is help captive in a Mexican Jungle and attempts at his rescue are going nowhere. So Brody’s plan? Kidnap CIA agent Kate Stone and use her as bait. Kate is fighting for her job after a failed attack in Iraq. Her life is a mess. Then Brody kidnaps her and enlists her help. When she and Brody reach A.J., they learn the situation is much more serious than they thought. Brody and Kate must rescue A.J. and stop an attempt on the life of the President of the US. Can Brody and Kate find love in the midst of all the chaos? And can Brody accept details about his past and finally reach out for love?

Purchase Geri’s books in paperback and on kindle at Amazon.com

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8 thoughts on “Geri Foster: Tips On Adding Tension To Romantic Suspense

  1. What good tips. Going to post them above my computer as a reminder. Good luck on your books. They look like they will sizzle with suspense!

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  2. Great tips! I think there are many ways to add tension be it in tension from the plot or sexual tension.I try to throw my hero and heroine together in such a way that they have to work closely together through the story, but for one reason or another, they
    can’t allow themselves to become intimate. Such as, the hero
    may lose his job, or in fantasy his species begins to die once they mate, or the heroine is his mortal enemy. I can dream up all kinds of scenarios to keep them
    apart, however much they may want to get intimate. Of course, in the
    end, their need and desire for each other have to eclipse their reservations. Anyway, it’s sexual tension in a romance.

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    • Tension is what moves the story and keep the reader reading. It can be external tension, internal tension or sexual tension. Just keep the read engaged
      Thanks for your comment, Thorne

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  3. Geri, thanks so much for visiting Ruby On Tuesday and showing us how it’s done. Your books are wonderful examples for anyone looking to learn. Here’s wishing you many sales.

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