Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dark Kiss- Writing Romantic Horror...a guest post

Please welcome Christine Rains...a writer, blogger, and a super fantastic beta reader.

Christine has one novella and sixteen short stories published and three short stories forthcoming. She is a member of RWA and S.C.I.F.I. Her writing covers all genres of dark fiction, but she loves to lose herself in paranormal romance most of all.


The Dark Kiss--Writing Romantic Horror

Whether you call it romantic horror, romantic suspense/thriller, or dark romance, it's a tricky genre to write. Many consider horror and romance at odds with one another. The audience of one genre typically isn't fond of the other and vice versa. A lot of romance fans don't want to be terrified, and some horror fans don't like the mushy parts. How to blend the two successfully then?

Balance is the key. Horror isn't always about blood and guts. If you have anything too gory or violent, it turns off the romance fans. In this case, you need to turn up the suspense. Keep your readers on the edge of their seats not with grossing them out, but leaving them anticipating and dreading what might come next. A reader's imagination is a potent tool. Never forget to use it to your advantage.

There might be monsters or ghosts, but horror is also about the every day things. Find something that your readers can relate to. The best way to do so is look inward and see what you're afraid of. If you can find something ordinary and make it frightening, you've got a great hook.

Romance fans want to see the turmoil of emotions in a relationship. The ups and downs, and everything in between. Scenes that go into too much sappy detail and harp on the romance itself will bore horror fans. They don't want sweet, and romances don't have to be that way. They can be dark, consuming, and dangerous. No flowers and candies. Heroines and heroes alike fall in love with bravery, intellect, and confidence.

As the suspense picks up pace, so should the romantic element of the plot. Alternate highs throughout most of the story, but join them near the end.

Never be explicit with the horror or romantic details. Too much will chase off readers, but that doesn't mean leave out the important bits. Be clear what you're writing about.

The ending must wrap up all points of the story. Most romance readers want the happily ever after, but when writing in this genre, you have more leeway. The horror of real life is that the boy doesn't always get the girl even if he saves her life. Sometimes it ends in tragedy and that can be satisfying in itself.

You can give your readers that passionate kiss and have the killer sneaking up on the couple. Just remember to make it believable or else you'll lose readers from both genres. Balance these elements well and you might have the next best seller in romantic horror.

Christine is the author of FEARLESS.

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  1. Great post, Christine! And excellent points!

  2. Very interesting post. I suppose scary/dangerous situations leads to higher romantic stakes and more emotional involvement from the reader.

  3. You make a lot of good points, Christine. Great post!

  4. yay christine! and fearless is free right now, guys!

    and chandara (elizabeth) - gorgeous new picture, girl!

  5. Great post. I think Christine did a great job in balancing the romance and horror in her book, Fearless!

  6. I used to read horror all the time and then stopped because I had my children and didn't want to be frightened by my reading to relax. But now I'm back into it and really admire how horror writers build that suspense.

  7. Thanks for having me, Elizabeth!

    Kyra and Dana, thank you!

    Nick, thanks. And yes, I believe the same thing. Emotions run higher and hotter in scary situations!

    Tara, thanks for the reminder that it's free!

    Sherry, thank you for the compliment.

    Susan, funny how the same thing happened with me. I still read horror, but I find it harder to watch horror films, especially ones with kids in it!

  8. Awesome tips! Congrats, Christine.

  9. Thanks for being here, Christine, and for writing about the two loves of my life: Romance and Horror. Great post.

    Tara, thanks. The picture is still technically not updated. This one was taken like six years ago. =) I haven't aged a bit. lol.

    Thanks for stopping by everyone.

  10. Interesting post and some very good advice. Now I am even looking more forward to reading your book. It is all loaded up on my kindle. This week-end I am all alone, so with a ton of chocolate and a good blanket, my week-end is planned!

  11. You do balance them beautifully, Christine. I <3 Tawa.

  12. Wow! Great post, Christine. All good things to remember. Some of us (me) are too fainthearted for the truly scary. :)

  13. lbdiamond, thank you!

    Siv, enjoy! Chocolate goes well with any book. :)

    M Pax, thanks! Tawa is preening with all the attention she gets!

    Dana, thank you!

  14. Fantastic points! I think all writing is about finding the balance no matter the genre. :)

  15. Considering love and fear are two of the strongest emotions, I'd think they would go together very well.

  16. Cherie, thanks! That's very true.

    Alex, I completely agree. They're my two favorite emotions to play with when writing.

  17. I agree with Alex, they go together. From what I know of romance novels, there are some terrifying events in them.

  18. Great post Christine - and you're spot on - it's all about balance in showing the horror and romance. Not always easy to achieve.

  19. Martin, there certainly is in mine! Thanks for stopping by.

    Tania, thank you. It's a tough balance to find sometimes. That's why I have you to tell me if I managed to do it or not! ;)


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