Apr 292014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

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by Margie Church

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

That’s the difference I see between sex scenes and erotic romance.

I’ve often started my books out with scorching hot sex between people who just met, but to be successful at romance writing you must create an emotional connection between the lovers. If you don’t, readers—who will have picked up your erotic romance novel in search of both those qualities, but find to their disappointment that it contains only the first—will hate the character who “gives in” to someone who has no apparent love for them, and they’ll hate the character who keeps coming back to take it. It’ll be impossible for readers to respect either character or understand why they care so little about each other.

In the opening chapter of The 18th Floor, Alexa and Sebastian have a blazing hot, chance sexual encounter. She’s been lusting after him for months. Little did she know he had his eyes on her, too.

The tricky part of this scenario was making sure Alexa didn’t appear to continue the relationship solely because she had the hots for Sebastian and he was the most adventurous lover she’d ever had—let alone appear seduced into a liason that would end as soon as Sebastian got tired of her. I had to make it clear after that first scene that Sebastian had a heart, and that he respected Alexa’s intelligence and autonomy.

When Sebastian eventually reveals he’s a Dominant, Alexa has to decide whether she wants to discover what that means or turn around and say goodbye. Sebastian makes it clear that he really wants to keep dating her, but that this part of him isn’t something he can just turn off. As their relationship continues, their honesty and visible care for each other makes it easy for readers to like them together—both in and out of bed.

Here’s an except that challenged me to build their emotional connection. It takes place the evening after their erotic meeting at work. Sebastian has called Alexa to confirm she’s going on a date with him that weekend. One comment leads to another and phone sex ensues.

From The 18th Floor by Margie Church:

He cleared his throat, and drew a long breath. “Strength. I have a sexy body with lots of great muscle tone. When I hold you, you’ll feel my power. You can see my stomach muscles ripple when I’m on top of you, between your legs.”

The comment made Alexa’s pussy throb even more. “Put some lube on your hand. I want you to stroke your beautiful cock.”

While she waited, Alexa went to the armoire to retrieve her favorite dildo. There’s no reason he should have all the fun. She slid the seven-inch toy from its silk case and licked the tip, anticipating the full feeling of it inside her.

His soft moan got her attention. “You’re hard now?”

“Yeah, very.”

“Tell me how it feels to watch yourself stroke your dick. Lift it up, show me your balls.”

“Tension…heat building in my balls…my stomach and thigh muscles are tight, like I’m getting ready to jump. I want some pussy.” He hissed, “I want yours.”

Goose bumps pebbled her flesh. Alexa opened a bottle of lube and spread some over the dildo. The light pink toy glistened in her palm. “I’m holding my favorite dildo. It’s all ready to slide in.”

“Are you standing in front of a mirror, too?”

“Yes. I’m leaning forward, spreading my legs. The tip feels cool. I’m so hot. So wet. I probably don’t even need any lube.”

“I wish I was there. My dick is pounding in my hand while I stroke it.”

“Fast or slow?”

“Slow and easy right now. Work that dildo into your pussy slow and easy, too.”

A sigh left her lips.

“What was that?”

“My dildo…all the way in. Feels so good but I wish it was your cock.” She nibbled her lip while she worked the toy inside her. The eyes staring back at her in the mirror were dark pools. Red stained her cheeks. She’d never played this game before and couldn’t believe how much it aroused her.

Sebi continued their erotic phone conversation. “I can feel my cock sliding deep into your pink slit until my balls rest snugly against your asshole. Baby, do you like your ass fucked? Have you ever?”

Her eyes closed as she envisioned his hard body beneath her, his dick stretching her sphincter. “Yes, I like it. Maybe you can fuck my ass while I use a dildo in my pussy. That would rock.”

“Bring your favorites on Saturday. I’ll make your fantasy come true.” Another low moan left his throat. “Spank your clit.”

Shock waves of pleasure made her walls tense around the toy and more difficult to stroke swiftly. “Makes me so wet. Play with your balls. I want to hear you come. I’m imagining you’re standing behind me. Your hips are slapping against mine as you pump into my wet slit. It hurts, and it feels so good. I’m gripping you so tight with my pussy. You can hardly move. I’m getting close.”

“I’m covered in your juices. You feel fucking amazing. You’re so hot inside. Your little pulses start around my dick. You’re getting ready for a big orgasm. I want you on your back so I can come all over your breasts.”

The reader can clearly see these characters like each other and enjoy pleasuring each other. It’s mutual. If they had no emotional connection, they wouldn’t talk this way. In fact there’s likely to be very little dialog. This is erotic romance.

***

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her motto: Romance with SASS (Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle). Never expect the same thing twice in one of her books. She tackles subjects and conflicts that aren’t typical in romances. Life is complicated. People are, too. Marrying those concepts makes her work fascinating to read. Margie was 2011 GLBT Author of the Year, and her book, Hard as Teak, was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at Loves Romances Café. She is well-known for her BDSM erotic romances as well.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions include music, poetry, walking on moonlit nights, fishing, and making people laugh.

Keep up with Margie:
Margie’s website: Romance with SASS
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Amazon.com: Margie Church: Books, Biography, Blog, Au…

Visit Amazon.com’s Margie Church Page and shop for all Margie Church books.
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Dec 062013
 
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By Margie Church

What are train wrecks? Manuscripts riddled with passive voice, head-hopping (switching between one point of view and another), excessive adverb use, incorrect dialog tags, and dangling participles.

Huh?

Most of us have long forgotten our grammar lessons and wouldn’t know a homophone (one of my deadliest sins) from a dangling participle (another sneaky bastard). Your brain must function like a serial killer’s (not a cereal killer) to get your work ready for submission. Whether you edit as you write or do it afterward, if you think one pass is going to catch it all, you’re mistaken. You’re also mistaken if you think it’s your editor’s job to fix your mess. Your editor’s job is to show you where the polish still needs to go.

The following excerpt is from my first book. Damn, I was proud of that accomplishment! That said, it’s riddled with some of the most common writing mistakes. I’ll also mention that this book was edited and published. Give this a read, and then I’ll take it apart and show you where the problematic areas are. I numbered the paragraphs for easier reference.

  1. For the next two weeks, Allie ignored all of Devon’s emails and phone calls. She found it difficult. Over the past months, she became accustomed to regularly communicating with Devon. She missed hearing from him and even more so, she hated to admit she missed the sound of his voice. All the more reason to put some distance between the gorgeous Brit and me.
  2. Finally, Devon tracked Allie down at work. She was surprised to see him.
  3. Devon fired off questions in true lawyer fashion. “There you are! Why haven’t you returned my calls, Allie? You’ve missed our weekly meetings, too. Have you been ill? Have I done something to offend you?”
  4. Allie heard the hurt and upset in his voice. She looked around, hoping nobody else did. “This isn’t the time or the place to discuss it.”
  5. Devon shook his head. “Of course not. Where are my manners?” He reached in his vest pocked and handed Allie his business card. “Stop by after work and we’ll talk then, all right?”
  6. “I can’t, I have another commitment,” she lied. Seeing him again captivated Allie. Even his eyebrows are perfect.
  7. “Allie, what is the matter? Why won’t you talk to me?”
  8. “I’ll call you soon. I have other customers now, Devon, if you don’t mind.”
  9. Devon let out his breath in resignation. “Of course, I understand. I apologize if I made you uncomfortable.” He leaned forward across the counter and spoke for her ears alone, “I’ve missed you, and I won’t wait long.”
  10. A blush crept up her neck and into her cheeks. Allie nodded.

In paragraph 1: Passive voice sucks the life out of the scene. I’m telling you what Allie did over and over. Regularly, the adverb, is in the wrong position. Verb tense (became) is wrong.

Paragraph 2: There’s a problem with the setting. Where is Allie when this scene opens? That needs to move up. I have a slight POV switch here from Allie to Devon, and more passive voice.

Paragraph 3: In case you forgot his name, I used Devon again. Snore… The sentences are weak and I could use some descriptions to show you his mood.

Para 4: Sentence construction is weak and I’m not showing you a thing.

Para 5: Couple of punctuation errors in there. Did you spot the typo? Pocked. Um, yeah.

Para 6: Passive voice, incorrect dialog tag.

Para 7: In case you’ve forgotten her name or can’t figure out who’s talking, I’ve used Allie again.

Para 8: The second sentence is awkward as heck. Needs smoothing.

Para 9: We start with a sneaky POV switch to Devon, and end with a bad dialog tag. Devon can only let out his breath in resignation if we’re in his POV…and we’re not. Put a period after alone.

Para 10: Another POV switch – this one is tougher to find. Allie cannot SEE the blush creeping up her neck unless she’s looking at her reflection. She can feel it or imagine it’s there.

Wow, for a couple hundred words, that’s a lot of bad writing. Now, let’s turn on that killer instinct and fix this train wreck.

Allie reflected on her feelings while swishing a cloth over a coffee spill. She’d ignored all of Devon’s emails and phone calls for the past two weeks. Her lips turned down. She missed their talks. She’d become accustomed to communicating with him on a regular basis. She missed the sound of his voice even more. That startling admission made her cringe. All the more reason to put some distance between the gorgeous Brit and me.

As if on cue, Devon walked into the coffee shop. Her heart rate increased at the mere sight of him.

He strode to the counter and fired off questions in true lawyer fashion. “There you are! Why haven’t you returned my calls? You’ve even missed our weekly meetings. Have you been ill? Have I done something to offend you?” Uncharacteristic emotion laced his words.

She looked around hoping the busybodies were occupied with something else. She whispered through gritted teeth. “This isn’t the time or the place to talk.”

He drew back. “Of course not. Where are my manners?” Devon produced a business card from his vest pocket, and then handed the crisp white card to her. “Stop by after work, and we’ll talk, all right?”

“I can’t. I have another commitment.” She had to keep up the lie. The truth wasn’t allowed.

“Allie, what is the matter? Why won’t you talk to me?”

“I’ll call you soon. I have other customers.” She indicated that he needed to step aside. “If you don’t mind.”

Devon released a long breath. “Of course. I apologize if I made you uncomfortable.” He leaned over the counter and spoke in a soft voice. “I’ve missed you, and I won’t wait long.”

Heat crept into her neck and cheeks. Allie nodded.

Although the revision is longer than the original, it’s a much better read. It’s alive with actions you see, not hear about. The editing mistakes are corrected.

Test yourself by copying the original excerpt and see what you can do with it. And by all means, ask questions. I’m here to help you understand how to improve.

 

About the Author: 

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her motto: Romance with SASS (Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle). Never expect the same thing twice in one of her books. She tackles subjects and conflicts that aren’t typical in romances. Life is complicated. People are, too. Marrying those concepts makes her work fascinating to read. Margie was 2011 GLBT Author of the Year, and her book, Hard as Teak, was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at Loves Romances Café. She is well-known for her BDSM erotic romances as well.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions include music, poetry, walking on moonlit nights, fishing, and making people laugh. She also writes children’s books under the pen name Margaret Rose.

Keep up with Margie:

Margie’s website: Romance with SASS
Margie’s blog: authormargiechurch.wordpress.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MargaretRChurch
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MargieChurch
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargieChurchAuthor
Pinterest:  https://pinterest.com/margiechurch/
Margie’s Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Margie-Church/e/B008H7HO4I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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Oct 122013
 
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by Margie Church

His fingers trailed down my back…

…sending shivers up and down my spine like electric shockwaves. Breath held, I waited for what seemed an eternity.

His eyes glimmered with passion before moving across my bare shoulder.

I wondered if I could stand still long enough to endure his tantalizing foreplay.

His voice commanded my attention once more. “Don’t move until I tell you.”

May I breathe?

Every square inch of my body became aroused when his fingers unfastened my bra. My brain pleaded with him to hurry.

With the garment dangling from his fingertips, he stepped back, scrutinizing me as though determining my worth.

Even though he hadn’t given me permission, my legs moved apart. I stood proudly in front of my Master, knowing I could meet his every need if given a chance.

 

Let’s give Sir a moment to collect his fingers, voice, and eyes while I get my brain and legs back where they belong.

Your eyes should have been rolling in your head as you read those poorly crafted, but really common writing mistakes. Hopefully you’re not making this many wrong choices in a scene, but I bet that, just like me, you’ve made them all at one time or another.

Editors call them dislocated body parts. In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d use my virgin post at WriteSex to point out that body parts only run at will in a zombie tale.

I find these errors mostly in my love scenes when the couple is heating up the pages. I’m having so much fun writing that I forget he has to move his hand, or I must watch him gaze along the curve of my shoulder. My brain cannot plead, but my mind can. He must use words or the tone of his voice to command my attention. Otherwise, I haven’t got a clue how I’ll get his voice back inside him. If my legs are moving apart on their own, there’d better be some sort of physical force causing that, like an earthquake, a shove, or a rocking boat. Otherwise, I have to do it the old fashioned way – I must move them myself. Damn. So boring.

Think of it this way…do you really want Thing from the Addams Family creeping down your spine?

Remember, whenever there is body movement, the part moving must be moved by the whole being. You can also reflect the movement in the correct POV: I can feel his warm fingertips trailing up my thigh. I can shiver under the heat of his gaze.

Invite Thing to your zombie thriller, but never anywhere else.

 

Before I leave, I have to say how honored I am to be asked to be a guest author at WriteSex. When I was getting started a few years ago, Sascha Illyvich had just opened this blog. I’ve read it religiously and learned so many important writing and editing tips from the man who has been a mentor, editor, and friend to me. I can never fill Sascha’s shoes or take his place. I hope that I can make him proud of the student I was and still am. I remain his favorite pain in the ass.

 

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element. She tackles subjects and conflicts that aren’t typical in romances. Among her books are The Razor Trilogy and Hard as Teak, which was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at LRC. Find her at Romance with SASS and authormargiechurch.wordpress.com.

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