Monday, July 16, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Last week, I attended the annual Romance Writers of America conference. I was pleased to learn that romantic suspense is still a popular subgenre since that's what I write. Publishers are actively looking for romantic suspense novels, but the suspense has to be well-written, an integral part of the plot and, well, suspenseful.

One of the editors gave a great example of plotting that I think applies to all genres and subgenres. To paraphrase her example, two cars leave New York with the intent of driving to Pittsburgh. Car A merges onto the interstate and arrives in Pittsburgh six hours later. Car B merges onto the same interstate at the same time. However, Car B's passengers are distracted by tourist attractions they find along the way and frequently leave the interstate to explore. As a result, Car B doesn't arrive in Pittsburgh until 12 hours later.

Those side trips are plot twists and turns that keep readers engaged in the story. Car A may be more efficient and arrive at the destination more quickly. But the unexpected side trips keep Car B's passengers more engaged in the journey.

It's like the mystery or romantic suspense in which you think you know where the author is going - but then she takes a sharp left turn. What are some of your favorite mysteries or suspense novels that kept you guessing with plot twists and turns?



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