Thursday, February 07, 2008

More On Writing

As I continue to read contest entries (see my original post here), I'm struck by a couple more things. First, as these are erotic romances (or supposed to be, anyway), sex is an integral part of the story. Or should be. But the sex has to be appropriate--not just thrown in because you're writing an erotic story. If you just throw it in, trust me, it's gonna come across that way.

I've read and judged six entries so far, and only one in my opinion had an original plot and writing that could be edited into a good story. The others had problems, some of which I've already addressed.

But here are a couple more things the aspiring (or even not-so-aspiring) author should keep in mind:

  • It is not believable to have a plot where the hero and heroine (or the hero and hero, if it's a gay story) meet and immediately fall in love and are ready to spend the rest of their lives together. It's very difficult to write a story like that with two strangers, which is why if I'm writing something short (say, 13-15,000 words) I usually have the hero and heroine already know each other. The one exception was Choosing Madison, my contribution to Seasons of Seduction Volume 1 at Ellora's Cave. In that story I established at the beginning (before she'd even met the heroes--and yes, I meant that in the plural *G*) that the heroine is ready to have an adventure.
  • Don't have one of your characters invite the hot guy she's just met to her home. No matter how good looking a guy is, I would never take him home with me after knowing him for only a couple of hours. That's not erotic, it's downright stupid and asking for serious trouble.
  • If you introduce something horrible in your character's background, it had better move the plot forward or help the character's growth in some way. If it's just a "boo-hoo feel sorry for me" moment, then take it out.
  • Make sure, if your story is about something that's popular (say, for example, your hero is a vampire), then make sure the story is original. Don't have your vampire be the owner of a night club or a cop or the local enclave leader. I'm even getting tired of reading stories where the vamp hero is searching for his mate. It's already been done. The last vampire story I wrote was The Claiming (available at Amber Heat), and the hero is from a planet of vampires (the planet is Nosfer, the people called Nosfera, and their royals are called Nosferatu). So, it's a little different. (The Claiming, by the way, was my 2006 entry into the Amber Heatwave contest and was a top ten best seller two quarters in a row. Being held to 15,000 words meant that my hero and heroine already knew each other and had, in fact, had a prior romantic relationship.)
  • And above all, your voice has to be original and fresh. And how to do that is difficult to say. Maybe impossible. But with a fresh voice and a twist on an old idea, you can have a book that rocks.
I'll post more as I read through more entries.

No comments: