Combine the tantalizing elements of romance with the relentless pacing of suspense and this makes for a heart-pounding reading experience.

Fans like heart-pounding and spine-tingling scenes. There is much more to crafting a romantic suspense novel than taking a thriller and adding a few love scenes. 

Gratuitous sex scenes aren’t gratuitous if we care about the characters and have been waiting for them to get together. In order to care about the romantic events, your reader must first care about the characters. And even then, it’s still less about the events and more about how the events make the character and reader feel.

Romance bestsellers have many things in common: strong characters, a compelling love story, and steamy love scenes.

There are three Ps to writing romantic suspense: Problem, Proximity, and Pacing.


Every story needs strong conflict. Build tension, that invisible force that makes your readers turn the page. The key is to make the conflict something meaty enough to carry the story for 400 pages. If you come up with something too easy to resolve, your conflict will stall out early. Too much witty banter and not enough conflict can stall the reader.

Invest time into developing a strong relationship conflict, which will ratchet up the tension in your story.


The key to building romantic tension is for the two lead characters to be together...a lot! In romance novels, find ways to put them together on the page. Create small moments of tension through their physical interaction. These two people must physically interact and respond to each other’s body language. have them tune into each other’s looks, expressions and tone of voice. Show, not tell, why these two people are attracted to one another.

The attraction must go beyond physical descriptions. If these two people are falling in love, go beyond bulging muscles and silky skin.

Pacing the pace

Your story must move swiftly to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. There are handy techniques to keep the story pace moving. One popular method is to create a ticking clock. Your protagonist must solve the mystery before the bomb goes off, the killer strikes again, or the bad guy escapes. Condensing the timeline ramps up the suspense.

As you condense your timeline, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop a believable romance. Love at first sight is hard to pull off. A whirlwind romance can be especially difficult to write convincingly if your characters are busy running for their lives, discovering corpses, and dodging bullets.

Make use of every scene. If you have a heart-pounding action scene, use a curve ball to give your characters a breather. As they come down from an adrenalin rush, this is a critical time for them to build intimacy. Use quieter moments to showcase their emotional response to danger—which may be different for each of them. As your two main characters share these intense moments, it becomes more believable that they would form a strong bond quickly.

Don’t Blow Your Ending

If you are attempting to write a true romantic suspense, you need to put some thought into your Happily Ever After.

When you pick up a murder mystery, you expect to learn who the killer is by the end of the final chapter.

With romance novels, does someone have to walk down the aisle? No. Flowers and wedding cakes are entirely optional. In fact, the more creative you can get with providing an emotionally satisfying ending, the better. You could decide to crush the reader expectations and omit the happily ever after ending. If so, brace yourself for some hate mail and one-star reviews.

Romantic suspense has a pace and tension never lets up. When done well, romantic thrillers deliver an emotionally charged experience that your reader will want to come back to again and again.

Unleash the novel inside you

with compelling characters,

intricate worlds,

and fine-tuned prose.


“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish. She has mentored many authors and edited their work.” 

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