ReadersMagnet takes a close look at the five qualities that make up a remarkable thriller narrative.
The past two decades have seen the rise of critically and commercially successful romance thriller novels. From E.L. James’s blockbuster hit, Fifty Shades of Grey, to numerous bestsellers by Nora Roberts, there seems to be no shortage of remarkable romantic thrillers every single year. Tie-in and movie adaptations of novels such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, and the Fifty Shades trilogy, set the tone for the success of the romance thriller genre. Jasmine: A woman of Color book by Monique Boyd, Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone, and The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins are just some exciting new books released recently. But what exactly makes romantic thrillers such an enjoyable read? Today, we will take a look at the five qualities of a good romance thriller narrative.
Compelling First Chapter
The first few pages of any book are always crucial. Readers can engage or put down your narrative depending on how well you narrate the first chapter or how well you provide a backstory. Introducing your main characters in the early part of your book is also essential. For Romantic thrillers, this is incredibly challenging because you are trying to invite readers into some mysterious (sort of) journey. Providing a compelling story at the beginning can make or break your novel. Some of the successful romance thrillers had their readers glued since the start of the first chapter. A good start is always necessary.
A Love Story at Its Center
It makes sense that the central plot is a love story. The novel must center on individuals falling in love, struggling to maintain that fire and passion, and overcoming outside forces threatening their romantic relationship.
The great thing about romance thrillers is that you can include several subplots in your narrative (crime, humor, drama, a bit of action, history, etc.). However, at the end of the day, how good the central plot, romance, will always determine the novel is a great or a mediocre one. From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to E.L. James’s Christian Grey and Anastacia Steele, a great love story is behind every excellent romance thriller narrative.
The Characters’ Humanity
When we talk about the characters’ humanity in a romantic thriller novel, we are not talking exclusively about romantic feelings, affection, or passionate desires. The greatest romantic thrillers can also present the characters’ flaws, internal conflicts, doubts, values, principles, and even their losses. What makes a character human is that he or she is not perfect or bereft of weaknesses. On the contrary, a great novelist must present his or her characters in some emotional depth. He or she can falter, but in the end, rises above the challenges and redeems himself or herself. Characters who are not attractive are the ones that make up a great novel.
“…And the Plot Thickens”
Just like any genre, readers want a rich plot to engage in. For romantic thriller writers, the challenge involves making the audience fall in love. However, there is also the responsibility to provide the mystery and stimulate the readers’ minds to dig in on the thriller or suspense part of the book. Readers are part-time detectives and part-time critics. They demand that authors be prudent all the time— by giving the clues at the right time throughout the narrative. This way, they can have a clear picture of how the story will develop or even end. Character and story build-up are integral aspects of romance thrillers.
Unique Twist & Ending
As important as any of the items listed above, these two elements are crucial and, in fact, quintessential in any romantic thriller narrative. An unexpected twist and a well-crafted ending (some authors chose to have a hanging narrative to end their novel) are signature elements in many romance thriller narratives. It forms the central part of the story’s climax, and readers are particularly observant of how a novel presents the plot twist and the ending. It takes a great author to build up a plot, purposely lead readers, and then take them to a surprising subplot twist near the end. Endings, on the other hand, vary. Some happy ending is remarkable. There are, however, exemplary narratives that make use of bittersweet or dark endings. Whatever it may be, the plot twist plays an important role.