In the song I Want Your Sex, GM sings: “Sex is natural, sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.” What do your characters think about that suggestion?
Followers of the blog know we started the discussion of sex – specifically, writing sex scenes – last week, when Kay talked about her difficulty writing the next (and more meaningful) sex scene between the h/h in her WIP. On Saturday, Michaeline followed up with some observations about different kinds of sex scenes and some words encouraging writers to practice writing them. Today, as someone who has written many sex scenes over the years, had them critiqued by other writers, and even survived having both my mother and mother-in-law read a book with some really hot stuff happening, I thought I’d add my two cents, or in this case, five points to ponder, about writing sex into a romance story.
1. A scene is a scene is a scene. When is a scene in your story not a scene? Never! So, it stands to reason that a sex scene will, in many ways, be like the other scenes in your book. As Kay and Michaeline both pointed out in their posts, scenes exist in a story for one reason – to move the story forward. That’s why the best scenes tend to have conflict, beats, escalation, and a turning point.
Conflict in a sex scene? Continue reading
The theme is the beating heart of your book.
Judging by my posts this month, it seems I’ve spent most of January thinking about keywords that apply to my writing life and process, including intention, patience, and empathy. This past week, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about theme as a result of the confluence of disparate elements.
First, a quick definition of theme as I’m using it here, from Reference.com: “The theme of a novel or story is the major message that organizes the entire work…The theme of a work is distinct from its subject, which is what the story is ostensibly “about.” The theme is an expression of the writer’s views on that subject.”
On Wednesday, Elizabeth wrote about defining what you stand for, as well as what your characters stand for, to help uncover potential conflicts, arcs, and growth opportunities. In the comments section, Jeanne and Elizabeth wrote about the way an author’s view of the meaning of a work can change through the writing process. With this in mind, it makes sense that many writers get their first (or second or fifth) draft on the page, then step back and analyze the work to uncover the theme. Why look for the theme? Continue reading
Oh, the internet. Sometimes it leads us to deep, dark places we didn’t intend to go. Sometimes it lulls us into the false sense that we are reading something thoughtful and informative, only to lower the boom on our unsuspecting heads. Even when we do find something engaging and helpful, there is always the risk of falling into the pit of despair that is the comments section. And so it happened that I stumbled upon a nest of romance genre haters buried deep in a comment thread of an article that had nothing to do with the romance genre.
It all started innocently enough. I’d had a conversation with a friend about the Poldark series on PBS. I’d wanted to love this series, but after watching the first episode, I was left cold and abandoned it. After the conversation with my friend, I decided to do a little research about the series and see if there was something I’d missed or maybe some shift in future episodes that would make it worth another try. In my online quest for knowledge, I came upon an article that announced the shows creators and writers had decided to remove a controversial storyline in the books from the TV series, a storyline in which the protagonist rapes his former love interest. Yikes.
While not all protagonists are heroes, watchers had apparently latched onto Ross Poldark as an heroic lead, and keeping the rape scene would no doubt outrage and alienate viewers. I, for one, applaud that decision. ‘Heroes’ can be tortured, dark, and troubled yet still redeemable. But rapists? In 2016, probably not redeemable in the reading or viewing audience’s eyes.
That was all fine and good and gave me food for thought as I considered whether this series was worth my limited time and attention. Then I made a crucial mistake. (We’ve all done it.) I scrolled to the bottom of the article and started reading the comments. There were opinions about the show, overall praise for the showmakers’ decision to cut the rape scene, and a thread that pointed out that of course Poldark was rapey because romances are thinly-veiled rape fantasies and at least the TV series would clean up the mess created in the romance book series. WTFingF??? Continue reading
Last week in our Self Publishing series we talked about the Book Cover, the first (and oftentimes only) chance for a book to make an impression on a potential reader
But what happens after the cover catches the reader’s attention?
Jilly’s post on Monday about the Dreaded Synopsis got me to thinking about some of the other elements you need in order hold a reader’s attention, once you’ve caught it
Loglines, taglines, high-concept – these are all tools that can help you position (and market) your story to your audience. Although we are looking at this through the lens of self-publishing, they are important regardless of the publishing path you choose. Continue reading
Welcome to Part 3 of Fiction Fundamentals. When I approached the topic of writing great characters, I didn’t realize how much information you, New Writer, should know about what really makes them sizzle until I went back and looked at the pages of notes I’d collected and the long list of bookmarks in my browser. I’ve been absorbing this for over three years, between classes at McDaniel, blog posts I’ve read, conference lectures I’ve attended, and web classes I’ve taken.
Rather than write a 10K word blog post (because really, I could, there’s so much great info about writing good characters), I’m going to Continue reading
Sometimes on the internet, you catch the most exhilarating wave. Image via Wikimedia Commons
I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about when I moan, “Internet Guilt.” Imagine that in a creepy font dripping with icicles and/or blood. Sometimes when I fire up the computer, it’s really, really hard to stay off the internet. I wonder if old-fashioned writers ever had that problem – they sharpened their favorite pen and set up their ink and paper with the best of intentions, and wound up writing to their aunt. Or their sister staying with their aunt. Or their sister’s dog who was staying with their aunt’s children.
I’m not going to argue for either side of the teeter-totter. All play and no writing is obviously not good for a writer. Nothing gets written. But on the other hand, all work and no internet is boring. And I would argue that it is bad for the writing – we need outside input in order to create texture in our writing, and the internet is one of the easiest ways to get input of all sorts.
The trick is to find the work/play balance somewhere in the middle of the teeter-totter.
Yesterday was a case for judicious internet for me. Continue reading
I am trying to plot out the remainder of the book I started last year. For my previous manuscripts, I was more of a pantser than I have been on this one. That worked fine for the first two, but my current WIP is based on an older story so the parts that I have down follow that. And now it is dragging on and on. I know one problem with writing is a result of the Romance Writing Masters Certificate program. It was so craft intensive that I let myself get bogged down when writing with all that craft instead of just getting words on the page and crafting later. For example, I find myself getting bogged down with craft before and during writing sessions when I realize the scene I am writing is missing something important. And this long stretch of writing one manuscript has the characters featured in the next one banging on my brain and screaming to get out. Continue reading