First, Happy Valentine's Day to all. Since I write romantic suspense, you'd think I'd remember my blog fell on the holiday that celebrates love. Nope, not me. So this blog will cover a topic completely unrelated to the romantic aspect of "romantic suspense" and focus on the suspense part.
While trying to come up with a topic for my blog, and since this is after all a suspense/mystery writer's blog, I tried to think about how I write romantic suspense. I'm pretty much a plotter in that I need to have the basic guidelines and bones of the story outlined before I get started.
One of the first things I need to decide is do I want the reader to know who the villain is right away or wait until the end of the book for the big payoff?
Both these formats work well with mystery/suspense writing and I've used both to my advantage. Sometimes letting the reader know from the beginning who the "bad guy/gal" is can lead to complexities in a story you might not otherwise be able to develop.
In Desperate Choices, my Carina Press release (available now), the reader knows from the beginning who the "bad guy" is. What they don't know and I try to delve into are the reasons and motivations behind his actions and the choices he makes along the way. The suspense is interwoven, layer upon layer, and hopefully keeps the reader turning the pages to see when the hero and heroine realize "who did it" and make sure that good triumphs and the villain's actions are revealed, all with a satisfactory and hopefully happily ever after.
I've also written stories where red herrings are strewn along the way, as the readers weave their way through the plot, hopefully following each pathway as they try to discern from the clues revealed again "who did it" as well as why they did it and the consequences of their actions. Again, all leading to that big black moment where good trumps evil every time, and everybody (except the bad guy/gal) lives happily ever after.
So, I my question of the day is this . . . which do you prefer? Do you like to know whodunit right away with all the psychological ramifications to come? Or do you like to be led down the winding—often fraught with danger path—where the evildoers are revealed and caught at the end of the story? Which would you choose?
Again, Happy Valentine's Day to all our faithful readers here at Not Your Usual Suspects. May your day be filled with happiness, flowers, and loads and loads of chocolate. :-)