This is another quality common to breakout novels according to Donald Maass in his Writing the Breakout Novel. It doesn't surprise me at all--we've all heard that we need to keep building on conflict to drive the reader racing through our story. But my problem with this is that I write inspirational romances, and not suspense ones.
Few inspirational romances that I've read keep upping the stakes in a traditional way, as in building the external conflict, but yet most of them still draw me consistently into the story with each passing page, so how do they do it? (Disclaimer: I'm not reading breakout romances, so I'm just looking at stories that sell while deciphering this quality in romances.)
I believe it's the internal conflict. The inspirational romances that keep me reading do a great job of building on the hero/heroine relationship. As the story progresses, the protagonists invest more interest, more respect, and more energy in one another and thus what they can lose relationship wise grows with the story. In effect, the author grows the story line until what is at stake is the hero and heroine's hearts.
Donald Maass says it best on page 78. "Skilled romance writers know how to grow the passion between heroine and hero over the course of their stories, to escalate it, or perhaps to restrain it at first so its full power emerges later. That heightened love is, in effect, higher stakes. As the story goes on there is more to lose."
So, if you write romance, just how do you grow passion in your stories? Or, how do you grab the reader, make the connection, in the first few pages, but leave enough growth room to sustain the length of the novel?
Surrendering to Him,