I finished the outline and the proposal yesterday, but decided to skip writing on the novel in order to read some more. It was worth skipping. I got most of the way through the Kay House, an excellent paranormal suspense titled Touching Evil. Structurally, it’s a mainstream novel — multiple points of view; heavy emphasis on the suspense; light touch with the romance; a subplot with scenes that include neither the hero nor the heroine (nor the villain); and written in a mainstream style.
Dissecting it told me something I’ve been suspecting as I’ve been researching these, and am delighted to have proven. There is nothing resembling formula at the high end of romantic contemporary suspense and romantic paranormal suspense — no ‘category formula’. Writers are different, styles are different, tones are different. For me, this is terrific news. I’m a structure-heavy writer, but I prefer to be able to define my own structure. It’s nice to find that I have a huge field to move around in before I even start pushing the envelope.
Soon as I finish this, I’ll start writing. Reading works better for later, when the house is noisy and everyone starts wanting things. On to work, then. The clock is ticking.