Last time we talked about eroticism of characterization we discussed two major points. Are the stories character driven or plot driven? Once we figure out that aspect we can concentrate on the proper lesson. For this blog we’re currently discussing characters and how they drive stories.
By the way when I say character driven stories, I’m talking about stories that focus exclusively on the characters and their growth. This is typical of most romance novels as we’re seeing a focus on the hero and heroine overcoming themselves in order to change. With plot driven stories, we’re talking more about books like Dragon Wytch by Yasmine Galenorn, which has strong character development but the focus is really on the plot. Urban fantasy and other genres rely on plot much of the time to satisfy their readers. But let’s get back to the erotic elements of character driven stories. We’ll cover plot driven stories in an upcoming post.
When we talk about erotic elements in any capacity, we’re really talking SEX. Remember in my previous blog post I mentioned movies? This is THE KEY that we want to mimic as writers in terms of structure and writing style. The reason is that the eye and brain pick up details VERY quickly and only through our logical reasoning do we misinterpret what we see.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even though revenues are in decline for a variety of reasons, movies tend to remain the most accessible form of entertainment. That being said, ever notice how a scene occurs? Probably not because action happens so fast in a good scene that our minds hang onto what our eyes see. But what if we wrote those scenes on paper?
We would see the internal dialogue, thought and action that occur. Since sex is an ACTION between two characters, the same formula for writing it occurs. I know I’ve mentioned Morgan Hawke in previous posts and the reason for that is that she models her sex scenes after Angela Knight and Laurell K. Hamilton. The reason for this is not only because both authors are EXTREMELY popular but because they’re both DAMN GOOD smut writers. And remember, we’re not always modeling our writing not after literary quality but after what sells. True writers are results focused and when we cover promotions via my publicist and a guest blog, or my cohorts, we’ll discuss why we are results oriented.
You’re wondering what that formula for writing sex scenes is now, aren’t you?
Here it is: (shamelessly stolen from Morgan Hawke’s site)
Stimulus > Reaction > Perception > Emotion > Response
Something happens to the viewpoint character. Then he has an action. Then a thought. Then a feeling. And finally, he responds.
Then the other character begins the patter again ON THE NEXT LINE. Since SEX is ACTION, we use this formula here too.
What this looks like in action:
Morgan turned her head. (Morgan ACTION)
When their eyes met (SASCHA ACTION), Sacha wanted to stride across the room and do something (Had a THOUGHT). Anything.
This was his mentor, his love interest from afar. His biggest supporter in the industry. (Emotion) He swallowed hard. (Reaction)
She started towards him, taking quick steps to cover the distance between them. (Morgan ACTION)
He figured she’d walk past him. (Had a thought)
Instead, she stopped just beside him, setting a hand on his chest.
His heart throbbed loudly in his throat. (Emotional Response)
“Room 515. I got a good suite. Good to see you, babe.” She dropped her chin and fluttered her eyelashes at him.
He inhaled her scent, lush and rich, “Ten minutes okay for you?”
A wicked smile crossed her lips. “Yeah. Don’t spend what you promised me.” She lightly raked her fingers across his abdomen.
A shudder raced through him.
Morgan walked down the hall.
The scene was originally written in a different style but I still kept the two characters actions in their own paragraphs. This style looks choppy huh?
WHO CARES? The reader’s eyes won’t notice unless they take a break and actually look at the page, in which case you’ve not done your job properly. The key here is that we’re writing for flow.
I can hear some of you now talking about style. I’ll break it down for you. Style isn’t what sells. Good stories sell. If you’re so tied to your style that you can’t change, I suggest you reread this post on Flexing by M. Christian. Then reread this post by Jean Marie Stine on erotica and money.
This formula is not the be all end all to your writing and will take time to learn. What separates one writer from another is the words chosen to describe the actions, events etc. When I went back to redo this snippet I had a few things out of order due to my natural tendency NOT to write in this way but once I saw the smoothness in how it read I was willing to try to learn to write action/sex in formula.
What makes the difference is that our readers run through the story so quickly because you’ve crafted the scenes in an order that lends to helping the words fly off the page come alive to the reader.
We’ve covered a lot of information in this post and it’ll take some time for it to digest so when I have the blog again, we’ll not only repeat some of this material but explain in better depth. Until next time…