Feb 242011

Every author knows that the structure of a story should follow a pattern, one that on the outside is fairly predictable. The Four Acts, the one tool used by playwrights, screenwriters and authors of any genre can make or break the story.

For those who are used to hearing of Three Acts, let’s cover them and then add in the Fourth.

Here we meet the characters, get into the basics of our conflict

The main issue is slowly brought to light and dealt with using the characters old ways of being.

The characters learn lessons and change their ways of being to resolve the core issue.

All of your plotting focuses around one central issue and how the characters in your story respond or react to that issue.

In any story we write, our focus is on a specific issue. Especially in Erotic Romance, where our conflict preventing the HEA (Happily Ever After) ending is both outward and internal, we have just the one issue. The world we create for our characters must revolve around that issue and force our characters together. In a BDSM novel for example, the issue is always trust. So our characters would react and respond differently to various scenarios where trust is forced out, using old behavior and thinking.

All of the various factors involved in character creation come into play here. The background we sprinkle throughout the story, the behavioral patterns, the thoughts, they all come into play here to resolve around the ONE issue. Even better if the world we’ve created for our characters helps to hinder and create conflict.

Now I mentioned in the title a fourth act. This I learned from my mentor, Morgan Hawke, who did a TON of research so make sure you stop by her website and check out her fine books.

In this act we give the characters what they think they want, rather than what they need. We also make things more difficult in order to FORCE new behavior on our characters.

With the REVERSAL, our HEA for romance authors is so much sweeter because we’ve built up that anticipation and crescendo the actions and scenes until it’s time for that needed release.

As we throw a wrench into the plot with our characters, we’ll surprise the readers with that act and prompt them to read further, and more of our work.

I will better define React/Respond and old ways of being in my next post as well as how to apply this in erotic romance/erotica.

Feb 172011

by oceania monroe

this is my week to contribute to Writesex.net
and even though i am writing this on valentine’s day
there isn’t a sexy anywhere in my tired old body

it is 2 1/2months since i had running water in my kitchen
over 4 weeks with limited electricity

do you know what running extension cords from all over the house just to make a cup of coffee
or washing dishes in the bathroom sink

but editors
they dont want to hear it
really! i meant hear it in my case (audio you know)

and more importantly Sascha Illyvich
doesnt want to hear it
… put away the bullwhip Sascha
i ambeing a good girl really

this weeks installment presents 10 tricks to getting past that i am dead from the neck up feeling

if you are a writer
you write
not for the money
we all hope we can make a living off our words
but you write because you have to
you jones if you dont
and the withdrawal isnt pretty

still deadlines and quotas still need to be met
and if you’re running on empty and you just cant find another sentence in you what do you…

here are some of my favorites
1. cut up a bag of onions- it gives you a reason to cry and a good cry will release up the pent up feelings of frustration
2. take along walk and talk to your characters you may look odd talking to yourself walking down the street but hey who cares it’s not like your taking a california sanity test for a gun permit
3. write a list of dirty words then shout them out loud.This is best done in the shower
4. pull out your favorite sex toys and have some fun
5. call up your favorite sex “toy” and tell him or her what you’d like to do to them
6. stack up a bunch of pillows and beat the hell out of them
7. pull out a copy of vogue and draw double chins, thick fat thighs and love handles on all the skinny models
8. rent a silent movie and make up captions- cant find one – watch an old movie with the sound off and make up a new story line.Doing this with a friend can be fun
9. write gibberish – yep- fill a page with pure gibberish I DARE YOU it’s harder than you think!
10. go soak in the tub – while you’re neck deep in hot water call a friend and play word association games

All this may seem silly but really what you’re doing is giving your tired brain a little down time.

So what tricks do you use to get back on track and meet a deadline? I would love to hear yours! Just email me at om@pureobsessions.com

 Posted by at 11:36 am
Feb 102011

And the gods of publishing spoke.

The earth rumbled and the lightening struck. All the peoples of the writing land quivered with fear and aw. And the gods said …

“Stand all ye writers and be counted! I say unto thee one and all, those of the laptop and those of the desktop, those sparrows of the tiny Twitter and lurkers of the massive writers conferences, teachers and students of the word and mid-list authors everywhere I say unto you all … PROMOTE THYSELF!”

And when the word comes down what do we all do? We panic, we pull out our hair and tear our clothes and we whine. There’s nothing like a good whine, I always say. But soon enough, we’ve all had enough whine.

Like a garden of beautiful blossoms, fantastic advice has popped up everywhere to guide us. Magnificent, excellent advice. It abounds and the sea is swollen with suggestions for website designs, blogging opportunities, platform planks (and the nails to hold it all together). What non-fiction writers and self-published authors have known all along is suddenly the law of reality for all.


But, try real hard not to get lost in the raging pulse of great advice. Don’t drown. Take it little bits at a time; there are a million ways to cook a chicken. The key to a perfectly roasted bird is the same as the path to a perfectly executed promotional plan … patience, clarity, understanding the tools and using them well. Winging it just won’t work.

Don’t go off half-cocked (oh, another poultry pun) and blanket the world with unfocused press releases or emails to spam your (soon to be no longer) friends to death. Don’t sweat over seeking ill-defined speaking engagements or stapling posters on every telephone phone pole in sight. Your face with the scrawled words, “Have you seen this writer? He/She is starving! Please buy his/her book!” won’t actually do it.


Do it carefully and unfortunately, in order to do it at all, you must first (yes, here it comes) … KNOW THYSELF … and (uh-huh) TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

Know yourself, know your skills, know your abilities and know your limitations. If you don’t have the time or energy to run all over asking if you can sign books at all the tri-state B&N locations, think about hiring an assistant to help make all the arrangements. If you can’t figure out how to reach every newspaper in the northeast, hire a company that does the press release flight for you. If you can’t figure out where to start, hire a publicist. If you can’t afford a publicist, there are a hundred books, classes, clubs and organizations to show you how to proceed. Being a writer is a business, and few businesses are successful just because they opened their doors.


If you’re not published yet, make your presence known. Who knows, the gods of publishing may reach down and touch you. Then where will you be? Unprepared, that’s where. Put together your business plan right now. Outline what makes you … the author … as valuable a product as the wonderful book you’ve written.




Now, I need to go baste the chicken.

More from the Author Success Coach?

And the Publicists Says … “Breathe”

Authors Write. Successful Authors Write a Book Business Plan


Author Success Coach

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Feb 032011

I’ve written so much at this point that I can’t be counted on to come up with names for a story all on my own. If I picked the first name that came into my head each time, every character would be named “Ben Tyler” or “Jake Davis” or “Jessica Miller” or something.

To pick my character names, I need piles of baby name books; I need Google Translate; I need actuarial tables.

All of this may be to my detriment. Making up names is easier than writing, so maybe this is just my way of procrastinating, like blogging or resorting all my paperbacks by the second letter of the title. And it certainly can take as much time as I let it — often more. For me, character naming can take on a life of its own.

The result of all this procrastination is that I’ve been told that I have a facility for coming up with colorful names. To be sure, my exceptionally bizarre character names like Irma Precht, Spunky DeShanski and Douglas “Woppo” Chamberlain come to mind when I choose to pat myself on the back for my writing talents — but just as many readers find my more esoteric character names annoying. I’ve been told things like, “I just couldn’t pay attention to the story because I was wondering why anyone would name their kid Arwycke.”

But coming up with completely bizarre character names is one of the few pleasures left to me in my old age, so at this point I can’t stop any more than I could stop breathing.

Still, it’s far from natural. When a story’s really pumping along, the last thing I want to do is stop and come up with a character name — or even the name of a company, hotel, or small town. That’s why my early works were laced with characters named things like “Jake Martin” and “Susan Green,” and occurred either in nameless big cities with streets called “Center Street,” “West Street” and “South Street,” or in towns called things like “Walkerton” and “Smithville.”

It’s only after I got to be more of a seasoned writer, and discovered baby name books, Excel and the data banks of the U.S. Census that I started really going ape shit when it comes to character names.

Many writers believe that the character and place names shouldn’t distract from the story. I basically agree, but for me, in some ways character and place names ARE the story. I love life at least partially because of its randomness. At least once a week in my reading, I encounter someone’s name that makes me go, “WTF? A Persian guy named McMurphy?” or something of the sort. Every time you learn someone’s name, you learn something about them. Names are evocative and illusory. They tell a story in and of themselves.

But many writers feel that the story names tell should be a non-story so that the story-story can stand out more strongly. To them, calling a character “Horse Badorties” would be ludicrous. A character named “Kilgore Trout” would be merely distracting.

I can’t say I disagree with them — and bizarre character names are more effective in satiric or humorous works, certainly. But I find those same writers who oppose unusual character naming conventions on the grounds that such names call attention to themselves aren’t always standing on the most solid of ground. They’re often the ones whose characters are named “Veronica Traynor,” “Bowden Blackheath,” and “Treat Scarborough.”

Seriously — this is supposed to be an erotica and romance writer’s blog, so I can’t let this one drop. Having had, for most of my reading life, little interest in romance novels — but respecting them wholeheartedly as an art form — I recognize that characters named things like “Devlin Raffterty” are expected in the genre as surely as characters named things like “Jack McCarthy” are expected in the international-thriller genre, and crime novels feature characters named things like “Burke.”

I would never expect a romance novel not to have main characters with names that stir my quest for adventure and, of course, love. But too often the names of romance novel characters go way overboard, without the satiric intent that drives a name like Kilgore Trout. I don’t know if it’s just my perception, but it seems like the names of romance novel heroes and heroines — and here I include paranormal fiction — have been getting ever more bizarre and outrageous since genre fiction started its migration to ebooks.

I’m not saying don’t name your broad-chested erotic romance novel hero “Dionysus Rapture” — just be aware of what you’re doing.

To be certain, there’s no reason to agonize over names if you don’t want to. There are plenty of people named “Jim Parks” out there, so it’s plenty realistic, if your characters are American and have essentially European names (which may or may not mean they’re of European descent) to name your characters something that won’t stick out in the reader’s mind.

But, speaking for myself, if I just picked the first name that came to mind I would call everybody some variation of something like “Tess Williams,” “Brock Proctor,” or “Lou Sinclair.” They would all sound like standard-issue dime-novel characters. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t inspire me.

Personally, I’d rather haul out the baby name book and pore over it for a few hours looking for just the right name.

Hell, it’s easier than actually getting down to writing — am I right or am I right?