Recently my husband was ensconced in a suspense novel I'd already read. He was enjoying it very much, as I had. "But you know," he added, "when I reach the parts where the female protagonist is angsting, I just skim. That's not really part of the story anyway."
I looked at him like he was from Mars. First, there wasn't that much "angsting" in the book to begin with. Second, when it was there, it was very much a part of the story. Okay, maybe not part of the action/chase scenes, But part of the character's arc, which is equally important.
And this, ladies and gentlemen is the difference between male and female readers.
Don't believe me? How's this. Picture two men watching a football game on TV. One's having serious marital problems. Here's the entire conversation about the matter:
During a commercial, with both men's eyes still glued to the TV: "You and Teresa doing okay?"
Shrug. "It's hard. You know?"
"Yeah, I know."
Meanwhile the wives have gone out for a two-hour lunch, during which the entire time is spent examining the couple's failing marriage from every possible angle.
Now, is it any wonder, when males come to read suspense, that they want more action and less characterization?
Granted, I'm speaking in generalities. Not all men or women will fit the mold of which I write. But I'll tell you, after seeing 21 books published, I've run into this again and again with my own readers. And, after reading hundreds of suspense novels, I've seen it many times in other authors' books.
I laughingly refer to much of the suspense written by men (particularly in the ABA) as "male suspense." Which means heavy on the action, light on the characterization. No character ARC. A lot of men love that. As a female, I find it shallow. After 50 pages in, I'm thinking, "So what? I don't care about these cardboard characters, so who cares what happens in the plot?"
There may well be men who'd refer to suspense written by females as "angst suspense." You know, too much of that characterization stuff and too little action.
Ah, me. In the end, I write the kinds of stories I'd like to read. And if that includes some "angsting," so be it. Actually I try to live in both worlds--writing suspense that is fast-paced, yet character-driven.