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mexcindi
12-08-2006, 06:46 AM
I've been searching around the forums but may not be using the correct search terms. At any rate, I can't find an answer.

Is it "done" for the lead and the romantic interest (in a romantic suspense story) to have the same goal? I know in "traditional" romance, the romantic interest's goal is to win the lead. Can I have that as a sub-goal (the lead's sub-plot is to reject the romantic interest) and have the lead and R.I. pursuing the same goal, but from different angles?

Forgive me if this has been discussed to death.

Moderator, feel free to nix this post and direct me to the appropriate thread.

Thanks all!

JanDarby
12-08-2006, 07:33 AM
A lot of romance writers recommend having the hero and heroine as the protagonist and antagonist, but, personally, I like to see one of the characters (hero or heroine) as the clear protagonist and someone else as the antagonist, with the hero and heroine forced to work together against the antagonist, and overcoming their issues as they fall in love.

At least in the stories I enjoy reading (and that I write), the hero and heroine have a goal OTHER THAN falling in love, and the love happens while they're not looking, so to speak. And that's more in keeping with the general storytelling advice that the protagonist should have a goal that's photographable (or somehow concrete) and "falling in love" or "being loved" is not a concrete goal any more than "be happy" is.

Anyway, the h/h can have the same goal -- catching the bad guy or whatever -- but they need to have other issues that they're resolving on the way to falling in love, issues that are keeping them from a committed relationship. If they're in love on page one, and it's a romance, you've got a plot problem. If they're attracted, but there's a "but" that needs to be worked out before they can have a committed relationship, that's fine.

JD

mexcindi
12-08-2006, 08:08 AM
Thanks Jan! I appreciate your thoughts. I think I've been reading too many how-to books because I started questioning myself.

A novel I've just started working on (but have been planning for a long time) has a hero and a heroine who both want to expose an evil person who has "done them wrong" but in different ways. The hero and heroine don't know each other at the beginning but, of course, meet and are attracted to each other. Then, they each learn something about the other and how each is connected to the antagonist that cause misunderstandings. Meanwhile, the antagonist is fighting to keep the two of them from revealing his nasty secrets. The hero and heroine resolve the misunderstanding and work together to expose the antagonist. Of course, they fall in love, vanquish the foe, and live happily ever after.

Am I on the right track in my thinking?

Thanks!

soloset
12-08-2006, 09:06 AM
Sounds like fun to me! Just be sure the misunderstandings are serious, and not of the "one line of dialogue could resolve this" variety. That always drives me nuts; maybe because I talk all the time, but whenever I see a misunderstanding that could be resolved if someone just thought to mention one teensy little fact, I just want to scream.

Linda Adams
12-08-2006, 03:32 PM
Remember a key difference about romance and other genres like suspense:

In a romance, the story itself is about the relationship and these two getting together.

In a suspense, the story is about--we'll say stopping that serial killer before he kills his next victim. The romantic element would be a strong subplot.

If you look at the magazine Romantic Times Book Reviews, you can get the names of other romantic suspenses and do some research. Unfortunately, while there are plenty of how to books out there, there aren't any that cover suspense or thriller very well. The two I know of both get it wrong, so the best way to learn more about what this genre is about is to read in the genre.

aruna
12-08-2006, 04:29 PM
Unfortunately, while there are plenty of how to books out there, there aren't any that cover suspense or thriller very well. The two I know of both get it wrong, so the best way to learn more about what this genre is about is to read in the genre.

That's why I keep telling you to write the Ultimate Thriller Writing book! I'm still waiting...

JanDarby
12-08-2006, 08:25 PM
Oh, definitely, always read widely within a genre.

Also, experts talk a lot about misunderstandings betwen the h/h, and some books work with that, and it's well done and fine (and others don't work so well, b/c they're artificial misunderstandings), but note that there don't have to be misunderstandings between the h/h to keep them apart emotionally.

They can understand each other perfectly, but just not be ready for a committed relationship. The idea is that the h/h (or at least one of them) grows over the course of the book, changes over the course of the book, such that he/she wasn't ready for love on page one, but by the end has grown/changed enough that he/she can be part of a requited love.

For instance -- and this is hugely cliche, but just an example -- if on page one, the heroine thinks she's better with computers than with people, and she's a bit of a wimp, drifting with the wind, but over the course of dealing with the antagonist, she's become stronger, someone who can be part of a relationship without being a doormat, someone who can love and be loved by a strong partner, then on page 400, she's able to argue with the hero when he says "I'm no good for you," b/c she's got a backbone now, and she says "to heck with that; I want you anyway" and makes their relationship possible. No misunderstanding, but enough change/growth of one of the characters into the person who can love and be loved by the other character.

JD

soloset
12-08-2006, 10:44 PM
That's why I keep telling you to write the Ultimate Thriller Writing book! I'm still waiting...

I would buy this! Nothing else to add, really. But I would totally buy a book like that.

Higgins
12-08-2006, 11:14 PM
And that's more in keeping with the general storytelling advice that the protagonist should have a goal that's photographable (or somehow concrete)...

JD

Wow...I'm intrigued by the photographic quality of the goal. I find myself picturing such goals...especially for the MC in my WIP who is perhaps a bit grotesquely (literally in his case, and in adverbial form even, as it happens) literal minded. Or literally literal minded.
There is in fact a thing (of sorts) that he literally wants and this is a tad inexplicable in character-inter-personal terms...but now that I see it as a "good thriller" element, at least I can feel better about it.