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    Crossing From Romance into Mystery

    Maybe this column should have been called how to murder someone and make it look romantic! Many romance writers are making the jump into mystery. As genres, the two are closely linked and can contain elements of both in a single story. Mary Higgins Clark has made her fortune joining the two. Romance writers like Tami Hoag and Nora Roberts have crossed the line.

    What makes a mystery romantic or a romance mysterious? It's mostly the writer's POV. What? You've never heard of POV? Well, step into my parlor! POV or point of view is the writer's best friend.

    From point of view, we know who's telling the story and what they're experiencing. We use POV to help the reader understand the heroine or hero. I'm sure anyone can read a book and tell if the POV belongs to the hero or heroine or a divine third party.

    Most books today are third person, told from the author's point of view without intruding into the reader's consciousness. We let our characters tell the story, sometimes from multiple points of view.

    There is a subtle yet distinct difference between writing suspense, women-in-jeopardy romances and writing romantic mysteries. Romantic suspense still maintains the strength of the focus of the story being the hero and heroine falling in love balanced against the background of a mystery that is solved. The hero and heroine must end up together. Neither one of them can kill the other and mostly, publishers don't like them to try!

    Writing mystery that is romantic is the opposite. The mystery is the primary thrust of the book. The hero and heroine can fall in love and have sex but the mystery has to be resolved. And the hero and heroine don't have to end up together at the end of the book. In fact, one of them can even be the bad guy.

    Mysteries today aren't as simple as Sherlock and Watson. They can have other stories going on within them. Today's mystery can also be a romance, have sci-fi or supernatural elements, or be set in the past. The hero can be a vampire or a ghost. The heroine can be a Duchess from the Regency or a pilot from the future. The point is that there IS a mystery to be solved and it's solved by the end of the book.

    Why do romance and mystery cross so well together? It may be because romance writers are a savvy lot who understand genre writing. It may be because we associate mystery with romance. There's a feeling between two people who solve crimes together or spend time alone on the dark moors that translates well between the two genres. Writers like it and so do readers. Think of all the mystery solving partners that you've wished would curl up together when the story was done.

    Next Time: Understanding the sub-genres of mystery.

    Links:

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene , who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage: http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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