05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, July 23, 2012

Overheard at... Kids Camp

“Drip, drip… drop”

I was watching kids at my daughter’s camp play a game very similar to duck, duck… goose. However, as the person went around the circle they dripped a bit of water on each person until they got to the ‘goose’ at which point they squeezed the sponge and all of the remaining water came out on the person’s head.  You can see where this added a whole new level of tension to the traditional game. Not only might the sitting ‘duck’ get tagged and become it, but he/she might also become soaked in the process.

Ever since this episode the idea of tension has been on my mind. This is my first month writing as a Genre-ista and while I am excited to have been invited, I also have a new understanding of that word. What will I write? Will I be able to come up with something to write once a month in addition to my own thrice weekly blog? How will I keep it interesting for myself and my readers?
Here is my muse’s answer…. tension!

Bad muse! Not terribly creative since tension is in fact the go-to answer for any writing question. But with a little thought I realized I could spin it. So every month I will ask writers and readers of Romance to help me come up with the tension techniques employed by different sub-genres. What has resonated for you when you have read perfectly tense moments? What are the favorite scenes have you written and what created the tension in them?
Tension is a concept we speak about a lot in writing. We know it immediately when we see it, but it isn’t always easy to create without artifice. We can learn from those bad examples too so feel free to include them.

Our starting point this month will be the romantic sub-genre of Romantic  Suspense… a perfect place to begin the dialogue. You can start by reading this wonderful article by Nora Roberts: .  In it she discusses how the play of relationship tension and mystery need to intertwine and build off of each other in Romantic Suspense.
Ask yourselves, in romance, where does the relationship tension come from? He’s available, she’s not… or he wants a superficial relationship while she is desperate for deep intimacy. On the other hand, in suspense, it is the danger builds the tension. Someone wants to kill our main character, or she is being framed for a murder she didn’t commit. What types of techniques illuminate that danger?  

In August we have some fantastic guest authors who will be writing their perspectives on Romantic Suspense so check out their blog post each Saturday (along with August 30th and 31st) for ideas. Then feel free to invite them into our dialogue.
And finally, look for my questions and tasks in the comments section here and tell me what you think…. I’m dying to know!


deanne wilsted said...

Check out this photo (actually a sculpture by Mark Jenkins, so no worries) and then use it to create a romantic suspense moment. Feel free to share in the comments area, or keep it personal... just write.

Sarah Raplee said...

Welcome to RTG, Deanne!!! 'Bad muse!' I can relate, LOL.

Keeping a form of tension going in the form of reader questions and concern for the characters (Will the puppies live? Is the monster on the other side of the door? How will Ella get rid of that huge zit before the ball?) is essential in popular fiction. This should be a fun and enlightening exercise - looking forward to it! - Sarah

Sarah Raplee said...

Here's what I was inspired to write:

As Reese Stryker lay on his belly like a discarded fish on the top of the rock wall of Mud Canal and felt for a toehold with his wetsuit-clad feet, he locked gazes with a pretty, curvy brunette in a business suit who stood among the milling crowd of police officers and firefighters and promptly fell in lust with her. The corners of the brunette’s mouth lifted and a killer dimple appeared to the left of her cute little pointed chin. He'd bet his favorite indie band tee shirt the feeling was mutual.

Reese’s right foot found purchase in a crack and he straightened into a more dignified stance, then lowered his left foot. He had a body to recover.

Captain Hoover had told him his brunette was the witness who’d reported what appeared to be the Balloon Killer’s latest body dump. A bouquet of colorful balloons attached to the victim’s clothing was the serial killer’s trademark.

Lucky for him she didn’t seem too upset by the experience. He had a feeling if he got an opportunity to ask her out, she’d accept. And when it came to the fair sex, his hunches were almost always correct.

He kept his gaze on hers as his chin came level with the rock wall. Brown eyes as dark as the dank water below sparked with something that kicked his pulse up a notch. When her throat moved in a swallow above the vee neck of her suit jacket his gaze dropped to the lace edge of her red camisole and for a moment he forgot about the body in the canal.

Then the female officer who’d been assigned to interview the brunette said something Reese couldn’t hear. Terror flashed in her eyes like a neon warning sign and her face paled under her perfect tan.

Reese forgot to breathe. Only one question could have elicited that reaction.

Did the killer see you?

Judith Ashley said...

Welcome, Deanne! What a great start to your time as a Genre-ista!

Not sure what I did wrong but couldn't find the Perth link. I did love the Nora Robert's article. Since I don't have the picture for inspiration, I've not followed the assignment but am sharing some of my thoughts on romance and mystery.

One of the dynamics in a romance that intrigues me is how the heroine and hero work things out. The 'aha' s/he is The One is my least favorite followed by 'if I get this upset with him/her it must be love'.

A well-written story shows the reader how people can and do work out problems; what it takes to move toward a HEA including the sacrifices and risks each character takes.

In my current WIP the hero wants the relationship more than the heroine. The reader sees him struggle with how to show the heroine that he does care about her and sees him take a business strategy and modify it to successful engage with the heroine.

Well-written stories can also be 'teachable moments' where readers can see interpersonal strategies being used to strength (or harm) a relationship. Bringing her flower (assuming he knows she isn't allergic to them) strengthens; calling her stupid or careless probably not.

What does our heroine do when she's called a name by our hero? Does she confront him? Does she calmly interact with him? How do we write this story to show a healthy relationship - or show a dysfunctional relationship strive to become healthy?

Not Romantic Suspense with that touch of mystery in the classic sense but there is a touch of mystery for the reader if we've done our job. Hopefully our reader's mind is coming up with ideas and strategies for our characters which can translate into adding new ways of doing things for her/himself.

I'm looking forward to continuing the dialogue in August!

Judith Ashley said...


You are one of the most creative people I know! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of it.

Sarah Raplee said...


Thanks for reading it. :)


deanne said...

Ooooh what a great kick off. Relatioahip tension and mystery in one... great example and am wanting to hear why the killer attaches balloons

deanne said...

I'm going to download a copy of the picture to my phone and ask writers I meet this week to go to the blog and comment... I think it is so intriguing how we each would find the tension... the story in a different way.

Sarah Raplee said...

I agree. Can't wait to see what others come up with!

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Deane, I've been trying to figure out how to insert a link in a comment on Blogger. This is an experiment. If it works, I'll share the infor with you and the rest of the Genre-istas.

Sarah Raplee said...

Rats; didn't work.

Guess Links will have to be included in the post.SIGH