How likeable do you like your main characters? Will you take strong, interesting and flawed, especially if they grow and change during the story, or do you prefer them sympathetic from the start?
And do you think readers set the bar higher for heroines than heroes?
In the recent Duke University romance forum, Ilona Andrews said that in her experience, romance readers are more forgiving of male characters than female ones. A male character can do appalling things but with the careful application of a little tragic backstory, he can still become a hero. A heroine, not so much.
That set me to wondering about one of my favorite contemporary characters, a super-rich bitch called Sasha Montgomery. She’s on ice for now, but not forgotten. She’s not a nice woman, but I love her a lot and I’d always planned to turn her into a heroine one day. Now I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.
Below is a snippet from the life of Unredeemed Sasha. She definitely has a challenging backstory. I’d be very curious to know whether you think she could be turned around.
© Niserin | Dreamstime.com – Solve The Problem, Think About Solution, Challenge Concept. Photo
It’s time to get back in the writing saddle (or office chair). I had a brainstorm last night as I was drifting off to sleep on one issue, but I have several other problems that need solved before much more writing happens. The 40,000 words I have thus far, even though they’ve been edited, are essentially first draft words. There are great gaping sections of narrative, long sections of dialogue with little blocking or emotional undercurrents, and some obvious holes where I haven’t figured out what will happen next to inform the end of the scene (so it rolls over and plays dead). That draft was about story structure and it got the bare bones on the page. Now I need to flesh it out. Continue reading
Sometimes basic is best. Getting back to basics. Basic black. Basic humanity.
And so it is with writing. Every now and then, often in one of the revision stages of a story, it’s time to get back to the basics – the point, the goal, and the conflict of a story. That means it’s time to reach into the writer’s basic toolbox and pull out some old favorites to identify festering plot holes, shore up weak conflicts, and fix leaky sinks. Okay, maybe not that last one.
This lesson presented itself to me when I recently found my Harrow’s Finest Five book 1 revision slowly circling the drain (what is it with me and sinks today?). I was dissatisfied with the story stakes. As I read the manuscript, they didn’t seem to be escalating, further complicating heroine Emme’s life, and leading her to an inevitable clash with consequences of her own making.
An author has options at such times. Crying. Chocolate. Booze. Cyring into chocolate and booze. But I’ve heard it can actually be more empowering to use TOOLS. Powerful, writerly tools. In this case, I opted for the tools and pulled the conflict box out of my toolbox to see why my revision had gotten stuck and my story felt flat. Continue reading
Anyone interested in hearing Eloisa James, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Alisha Rai, and Sarah MacLean discuss various aspects of romance writing?
I just spent almost three hours online watching a recording of a fascinating, funny and insightful seminar held last week at Duke University. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. My plan was to skim it for the good bits and listen to the rest later, but it turned out to be all killer, no filler. The only bits I skipped were the rest breaks 😉 .
The event was called Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and the Romance Novel, and indeed all those subjects are covered in an intelligent and engaging way, but there was so much more.
Each author talked about their home environment and what led them to become a romance writer. After that, the Q&A session included: Continue reading
The birds are singing, the sap is rising, and we’ve been talking a lot here on the blog about writing great sex scenes.
Kay started the party by sharing her battle to reward her long-suffering hero and heroine with a gold-plated, caviar-coated, champagne-drenched, Lamborghini-driving, high-quality, meaningful one-on-one. Last Saturday Michaeline shared her thoughts on the sex scenes in Charmed and Dangerous, an anthology of short gay fantasy stories, and yesterday she told us about a pair of happy couplings she decided not to write. In between, Nancy gave us five points to ponder about writing sex in the romance genre.
I’d like to drop another suggestion into the mix.
“Y’all are fine right now, but as soon as my honey gets here, we’re a-shuttin’ this curtain and gettin’ through four sets of corsets.” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, a lot of us had a lot to say about sex scene (Kay, me, Nancy on 8LW), and I had a major breakthrough. In romance, the sex is often supposed to show the POV character going in for orgasms or fun or comfort . . . and coming out with orgasms, fun, comfort AND True Love.
That explained a lot about the sex scenes that I haven’t written in the past.
Last year, I wrote a romantic short story where I quite firmly closed the bedroom door on the readers. There really was no point. As far as I was concerned, the pair had shown their Natural Compatibility through fighting to defeat the villain. They were on the same wavelength, and they gained mutual respect for each other through the fight scene. So, when they headed off for post-battle sex, there was really no point in showing that, I thought. (-: Pardon the pun, but it would have been anti-climactic. The sex was a reward for a job well done, and I left it to the readers’ imaginations to envision their own very satisfying happy ending.
In a different short story, my characters were having really great sex. And again, I Continue reading
Describe this dog, and you could have won a touristy tchochtke from Tokyo! LOL! (Photo by Michaeline Duskova)
Well, lessons learned all around this week! The contest was a miserable failure, but my thinking about description in fiction feels much more solid.
Failure analysis later. One of the reasons I ran the contest was because I found it very hard to describe my dog. Finally, finally, about Wednesday, I started to get a grasp of the words for him, and then today, I came up with this:
He is a fluffy, scruffy, flop-eared cream-colored mutt, but the kind of cream that has been crawling around in coal mines, with streaks of grey. His eyes have the soulful look of somedog who experienced extreme depression in a past life, and wasn’t expecting too much from this incarnation either. (Fifty words.)
I realized, though, with a description like that, the dog had better be playing the part of the Melancholy Messenger Of The Story. He’d better be super-important, and not just a passing dog on the roadside. I think as writers, there’s this somewhat arrogant or even control-freak kind of thinking where we believe we want to put the images we see in our brains directly into the brains of our readers . . . and the problem is that words and brains don’t Continue reading