Sunday, January 11, 2015

Romantic Suspense

THE SCORE SHEET
~ ALL SPECIFIC SECTIONS

Most of the opinions on judging and interpreting the questions’ intent are my own words. I’ve only been in the business 15 years and have spoken to many authors, gathering information. A lot of the time when a question is asked, I go to authors who publish in that genre for advice. Please use your own expertise and experience, but keep our humble interpretations in mind. Thanks, Angi

~If you have an additional question regarding your specific category, please send it directly to GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.

~Some of the explanations are the same for general questions which require some expected knowledge of the sub-genre. If you require a more in-depth definition of the genre...please send an email for additional information. Additional resources are being posted this week.

~For your convenience we’ve included a description of each category as described on our FINAL EDITORS page.


PLEASE NOTE: Romantic Suspense judges received their entries Sat 1/10

*ROMANTIC SUSPENSE*
Romantic novels that include an element of mystery or suspense. Since the final round editor is from a single title publisher, contestants may want to enter series romantic suspense in the contemporary series category. An example is the 2014 RWA RITA winner: OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane.

SPECIFIC TO THE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE CATEGORY
Possible 20 point total to award, 5 points per question
        Is the balance of mystery / suspense and romance appropriate for the projected word count?    
        Is the crime (or threat) description appropriate for the projected word count? (i.e.: series suspense is less graphic while single title suspense may involve more detail.)
        Does the author capture the correct pacing of a mystery / suspense romance? (i.e: the fast pace for suspense or the intriguing pace for a mystery?)
        Does the author capture the tone of a mystery / suspense romance?

Breaking Down the Questions
        Is the balance of mystery / suspense and romance appropriate for the projected word count?           
Many writers ask what’s the balance or percentage of romance to suspense required in an RS. The answer--as with any genre is the same: it completely depends on the story and what’s appropriate for the characters. But there is a balance. With any sub-genre (paranormal, suspense, inspirational, historical), if you remove half of the equation is there still a story? If the answer is yes…then the story doesn’t have the appropriate balance, it just has elements of the sub-genre. Take for instance the movie EVER AFTER, if you remove the historical element of the film, you have a contemporary story based on the Cinderella fairy tale. IF you can remove the suspense from an RS, then you have a romance with suspenseful elements instead of a true romantic suspense.
        Is the crime (or threat) description appropriate for the projected word count? (i.e.: series suspense is less graphic while single title suspense may involve more detail.)
Authors must know their audience. Contemporary Series suspense or intrigue will move rather quickly and may not have as much graphic description or language as a single title. If the contestant did not provide information regarding series or single title, the interpretation of the entry is up to the judge. If you mark down for this question, please let the author know which genre of suspense you felt like the entry was.
        Does the author capture the correct pacing of a mystery / suspense romance? (i.e: the fast pace for suspense or the intriguing pace for a mystery?)
A fast, exciting pace is often set with the appropriate use of fragmented sentences. Writing style is often part of a voice that sets a “tone” for the subgenre. Before condemning/berating a person for the use of ellipses, em-dashes, or sentence fragments ... please read the entire chapter. If over-use is detracting from the story, please make a note. But it may just be a style of writing and may not necessarily be “wrong.” On the other hand, a darker suspense may have a slow-pace, creating the mood necessary to convey its chilling edge. Another point is the difference in a Happily Ever After: this probably won’t affect your judging, but often in an RS, the story takes place within days, so it’s no longer necessary to require the hero and heroine to marry at the end of the book. They only need an intent for their relationship to continue.
        Does the author capture the tone of a mystery / suspense romance?
Tone. If you don’t read several types of romantic suspense, this question may be a mystery to you. Please contact the coordinator for help. But each type and length of a mystery, suspense, thriller, or cozy has its own feel. It’s what a reader would expect when picking up a book not only on a designated/tagged bookshelf, but also by an author.

Some specific things to keep in mind when judging Romantic Suspense:
*The prologue doesn't have to (and normally doesn't) have anything to do with chapter one.
**Then why should the writer include it in a contest? 
       They'd like opinions on it.
*Chapter one usually raises a lot of questions...
      It's not necessary to have all of them answered in the first chapter.
      When commenting on these questions, feel free to point them out to the author. But keep in mind that raising questions is a good thing. Please don't count off for logical plot progression.

If you have specific questions regarding this section, please contact GEcoordinator@ntrwa.org.
Additional help tips for this category may be available through the coordinator or on our blog.

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