Dec 112014
 
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By Suz deMello

Welcome to EroticaVille, a magical town where our characters don’t shit, piss or bathe…except when there’s some kinky goings-on involving in-shower BJs, scat play or watersports.

When I first started writing romance back in the Dark Ages, I read many stories in which the characters enjoyed frenzied fucking but never seemed to get slimy, smelly or sweaty. They never showered, bathed, pooped or peed. Normal bodily functions were ignored except for eating—mealtimes were prime time for characters to relate to each other.

I hated that. Not that I’m squeamish about bodily functions, but ordinarily, the first thing I do post-afterglow is drag myself out of bed to a bathroom for a quick cleanup, even if that’s only a damp washcloth over my crotch. I can skip that if we’ve used a condom, which is always nice as well as safe, as we all know. Being uninterested in—even repelled by—bukkake, I firmly believe that come belongs in my mouth or a condom, not in my hair or on my face. Either of those destinations would call for a shower. Immediately. Others may feel differently—more power to them—but for me, the less post-coital cold and slippery anything I have to wash off, the better. And I hate to sleep on the wet spot.

Back to my main point: in many novels, characters behave uncharacteristically—and that is okay. Preferable, even. Normal body functions are a part of life, and while I believe that a nod should be given to the day-to-day, the fact is that our characters are not humans, and the world we’ve created is not our world, not even in the grittiest contemporary.

So I was the out-of-step reader. I’d read a lovemaking scene and then think, “Don’t these people ever wash? Disgusting.” Now I understand the reason writers don’t include every little thing that characters do.

Last month I discussed unnecessary sex scenes, scenes that did not perform one of these four functions:

•Advance the plot
•Reveal or develop character
•Complicate or resolve conflict
•Express setting, mood, and/or theme

I respectfully remind you again: nothing belongs in your book—not even the tiniest comma—that doesn’t fulfill one or more of the four functions above.

And that’s the reason most writers don’t show their characters brushing their hair, tying their shoelaces or taking a dump (unless their Dom tells them to, which is quite another matter).

Here’s a snippet from my writing manual, About Writing:

Everything in your manuscript should have a function, even every comma or em-dash. And this is the reason the special world we create in our stories is so different from our ordinary world. Much happens in our day-to-day existence isn’t particularly relevant to the story of our lives, that is, the accomplishment of our dreams and goals.

Let’s say that we’re thinking of having our protagonist, who has as his goal great wealth, stop at a Chipotle restaurant for a burrito. Eating that burrito doesn’t help accomplish that goal. But it’s a common act, one that occurs often. Lunch is a part of our lives, but we wouldn’t put it in a book about a protagonist on a quest to amass loads of money unless something occurred at that Chipotle that fulfills one or two of the above purposes.

Perhaps the protagonist meets someone there who is a mentor, ally or adversary; he could eat lunch with his hippie mom, who vehemently expresses her dismay over his life choices.

Maybe he heroically stops an armed robbery from taking place, garnering publicity that helps him on his way—even though he gives up the chance to close the biggest deal of his life, a sacrifice that would make his eventual triumph all the more poignant. And the event shows character, that this guy is more than a soulless money-making machine.

If he’s just eating lunch, his burrito probably doesn’t belong in your book. The scene might show a tiny bit about your character, but that’s not enough to justify an entire scene. A short phrase (He devoured a burrito at Chipotle before heading back to the stock exchange—where he hoped to complete the biggest deal of his life) is all that’s necessary.

But when I first started reading romance, which was long after I’d started having sex, I found it odd that no heroine got out of bed to tidy herself up. She didn’t even reach over for a tissue to grab that glop before it fell out of her and created the (shudder) dreaded wet spot.

Perhaps this was because of my own peculiar emotional conformation. While in the bathroom, I’d ruminate about what had just happened and how the lovemaking affected my feelings about my partner. In a calmer relationship, as during most of my marriage, I might get up but maybe not, and I wouldn’t think about anything. Scenes of that nature shouldn’t appear in books because they don’t fulfill any of the legitimate purposes of a scene.

But in a romance, post-coitus is a prime time for the characters to indulge in a little introspection, or if they’re feeling chatty, it’s a great opportunity for your characters to relate to each other.  The sex itself should certainly advance the plot—if not, why’s it there? After, a little sweet talk is a nice sequel to the sex scene—or maybe the conversation goes awry and conflict is revealed or advanced.

I love to write historicals, and part of the reason is that I love to learn about how people used to live. The clothes they wore. The foods they ate. And yes, how they disposed of their feces. Most people think that a garderobe was some kind of medieval wardrobe. Nope—it was the castle’s shitter, usually just a bench with a hole. It most often led to the moat which, as you can imagine, was not the most charming spot in our hero’s demesne.

I mentioned above that bodily functions can appear in erotica, as I’ll show here—this excerpt is from my fictionalized memoir, Perilous Play. This snippet takes place after a particularly intense scene.

He took everything off except the collar. With the leash tied to it, he led me into the bathroom so I could pee, and stood staring down at me.

I guessed that this was part of the whole humiliation shtick, but didn’t care. With Trapper, I was beyond embarrassment.

I looked up at him and said, “Remember when you were spanking me in here before?”

He nodded.

I shivered. “That was possibly the most erotic moment of my life.”

He smiled.

My passion for realism often leads me to write scenes in which the formerly virginal heroine washes off the brownish streaks that her first lovemaking left on her thighs while (you guessed it!) thinking about what just happened and how it affected her and the relationship. I also write characters who wake up with morning breath, characters who have to use the garderobe and yes, characters who shower often.

After all, the shower is a great place to fuck.

*****

If you enjoyed either of the excerpts quoted above, you can find them here:

About Writing for sale at Amazon;

Perilous Play (found within a boxed set, also at Amazon, titled What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey).

*****

About Suz deMello:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

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Jun 132014
 
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By Jean Roberta

I write in several genres, including blog posts and reviews. I also teach first-year university students to write academic essays, which is a particular, ancient art form related to the art of debate. (When universities were first established in Europe in the 1200s, “logic” and “rhetoric” were high on the list of subject matter that scholars were expected to learn.)

I’ve learned a lot from my students. I like to think I can recognize problems in my own writing more readily because I’ve seen the same groaners in student essays. Most of the mistakes I’ve circled and commented on can be summed up as a general lack of coherence. Some students even contradict themselves within a paragraph, apparently without noticing it.

To be articulate, whether in speech or in writing, literally means to connect the dots, to show connections between a premise and the evidence that supports it, between events and their aftermath in a narrative, or between analogies. (For instance: Putin’s recent annexation of part of Ukraine for Russia is parallel to Hitler’s annexation of surrounding territory for Germany in the 1930s – or not. Discuss.) An articulate approach to anything requires work.

Some literary critic once said that bad writing consists of missed opportunities. This sounds similar to incoherence, or a failure to articulate. A good plot premise doesn’t necessarily lead to a good story, because the writer might miss a chance to show where the central character’s value system or motives are likely to lead, or to connect different themes or viewpoints within the story.

Part of the reason why “pornography” has traditionally been considered bad writing is because it leaves out so much of reality. A loosely-plotted story that consists of one sex scene after another might make a great fantasy, and it might inspire a great wank-session, but it doesn’t resemble anyone’s actual life. Even full-time sex workers have things to do that aren’t the least bit sexy – and selling sex to strangers is not the best way to have an endless series of peak experiences.

The challenge of writing about sex, even if it takes place on Planet X or involves supernatural beings, is to integrate the physical activities with the emotions involved, with the cultural context, and with the circumstances that lead to sex. Behind every set of double-D-sized breasts is a human heart. To describe the breasts as part of a tempting body, without acknowledging that every human body of every size and shape includes a complex human psyche, is to be an amateur cartoonist. The anti-porn feminists of the 1970s had some reasonable things to say about this type of writing. Unfortunately, much of what they said has been forgotten or drowned out by conflicts over censorship, which has continued in various forms to this day (Amazon.com, for example, needs to be watched).

When reading over a rough draft of a story, I ask myself: do all these characters belong in the same imaginary world? Even if the plot twists aren’t predictable (a good thing), are they believable (another good thing)? Have everyone’s feelings been clearly represented? What am I leaving out?

Setting a manuscript aside for at least 24 hours, then looking it over with these questions in mind, can lead to useful insights.

If not everything fits together, you might actually have two stories disguised as one. In that case, you can thank your Muse for being so fruitful, and start rearranging.

————————

Jean Roberta writes in several genres. Approximately 100 of her erotic stories, including every orientation she can think of, have appeared in print anthologies. She also has three single-author collections, including The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press, 2013). www.jean-roberta.livejournal.com

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Jun 092014
 
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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?” To answer that question, twelve 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.

***

By Mary Marvella

I remember several years ago I met an older man who thought he was writing romance or erotic romance. He said he needed an editor, so I agreed to edit his books. Contrary to his idea of them, his stories were all about sex with no romance involved. He had all the sex acts of porn and none of the finesse of erotica or erotic romance. Not once did his writing make me want to be part of his sex scenes. I tried to help him and finally found someone who could tell him where he might get his books published, if anywhere—and even they suggested his books were similar to the ones sold for men in truck stops. Today, if the dear man still lived, his stories might be self-published, or he’d need to let me just rewrite his books for a fee.

A sex scene is about bodies commingling in various ways—part A goes into slot B; there’s some licking, some sucking and a lot of coming—but isn’t required to include meetings of minds or points of view, let alone emotions. As such, the idea of a standalone sex scene bores me to tears; so far I haven’t let a sexual encounter continue in any of my books without also describing the emotional connection or need that motivates it.

In my book about a 40-year-old who lost her virginity in a one-night stand, I thought I had done it—I thought I’d written a sex scene between two strangers who met, briefly rocked each other’s worlds, and then parted ways, never to see each other again. But I thought wrong. The “stranger” character was hurting, but I didn’t know it at the time. I had intended for him simply to make the heroine feel beautiful and have a sexual experience to remember, as a new chapter of her formerly-repressed life. The man I had chosen to give this woman a baby—yes, I did, and she was grateful, too—turned out to be a man in pain and a responsible man. The next time they had sex, there was love neither could admit.

When I write a sex or love scene, I make sure my characters want each other and need that connection to the point of emotional pain. They move from old-fashioned kissing and petting to doing what comes naturally. My readers must also want the characters to finally consummate their passion with vividly described, rather than just implied, sex—I’m no more inclined to write a “sweet” romance any more than I am to write straight-up porn. I don’t have my heroes “take” the heroines and “make them theirs”, especially if the men don’t love the women. I never let my characters actually consummate the sex scene the first time they think they will, and they tend to think of that sex as lovemaking by the time they finally “go all the way”. My guys worship the heroines’ bodies. They don’t use the old trite terms. Their encounters are not just about being horny and gettin’ some ass. They are drawn to their sex partners for more than tits and long legs to wrap around the men’s hips and scream with…

Protective Instincts was the first book I wrote and edited and rewrote to give it stronger romantic suspense. I also added as much emotion as I could each time I worked on any scene where the two main characters were together.

They are considerate of each other. Since they have fears and self-doubts, they are vulnerable. Brit, the heroine, has been attacked twice by a man who planned to rape and kill her. Several women who had worked with rape victims warned me Brit would have issues and not likely have sex with Sam early in the book. That led me to remove two early sex scenes.

Sam wants Brit, but he doesn’t want to frighten her. Her fear that she can’t let a man dominate her from the “man on top” position leads to a sex scene where she must take control and he must allow her to do that:

Excerpt:

With a moan, he moved both hands to her bottom, pressing her against him. She wanted to feel his touch all over her body. She wanted all he could offer – now!

She trembled in his arms.

“Brit,” he whispered. “Scared?”

She brushed her cheek against his chest, kissed his throat. “No,” she said against his skin, “not as long as you hold me.” She unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, branded his chest with kisses, then his neck, then his chin.

“Make love to me, Sam.”

“Not so fast, Teach.” Sam touched his lips to her forehead. “Take it easy, love.”

“But I need you. I need for you to make love to me.”

“We have all night.”

Brit shivered again. “But what if I can’t? If I wait too long I might lose my nerve. What if I can’t, what if I panic?” What if I disappoint him?

“We’ll take things slow and easy. If you need to stop, we’ll stop,” Sam’s voice rasped. “So, sweetheart, take charge. Make love to me. Take me, take me now!” He flung his arms wide and grinned. “I’m all yours.”

Brit chuckled against his chest. “You got it, bud, I’ll take you to heights you’ve never been before.”

She kissed his throat again, unbuttoned another button.

Tunneling his hands through her silky hair, he tilted her face up. Lowering his head, he kissed her slowly, gently, thoroughly.

Brit needed this man. Sam was so different from Tommy. Was she disloyal to want this man so much? Surely not! She needed to feel alive and clean. She needed to enjoy a normal sexual experience with someone who cared. She needed to know she could stop whenever she wanted to.

Kissing Sam made her feel cherished. He made her feel he needed her as much as she needed him. He was handsome, manly, sexy as all get out, gentle, in control, and caring. If Sam can’t help me through this, no man can. I can do this. I can. I must.

Sliding her hands inside Sam’s shirt, Brit absorbed the rough texture of springy chest hair between her fingers, against her palms. She gasped into his mouth when he picked her up and moved to a couch. Without breaking the kiss, Sam seated them, with her in his lap.

Kissing Sam, nipping at his lips, Brit tried to stoke his passion. She wanted him to make love to her but he held back. Why was he waiting? If he would just make love to her, she would know she wasn’t scarred for life.

Changing positions, she became more aggressive. She straddled his legs and faced him. “Too many clothes,” she yanked his shirt from his jeans. Gliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, she exposed his sculpted torso.

Gripping the bottom of her blouse, she yanked it over her head. Heat and moisture spread through her loins. Sam’s emerald eyes glittered. She knew she was tempting him. His heat burned through their clothes.

Emboldened, she slowly unclasped the front catch of her lacy bra, freeing her breasts to press against him.

“Come to the bed, lie with me. We need to slow down.”

“Why? I need you now.” Snaking her arms around his neck she pressed her breasts against him.

“Hang on.” He rose with her. “Lock your legs around me.”

She knew making his way to the bedroom wasn’t easy while she kissed his face and rubbed against him.

When Sam reached the large bed, Brit leaned over to grab the satiny coverlet and toss it back. He toppled them onto the bed.

He lay on his side facing her. He kept his touch gentle. Her pebbled nipples begged for more than his touch. Dipping his head, he stroked his tongue over a nipple, then its mate.

She clutched Sam’s shoulders. Tension built to an unbearable peak. When Sam’s hand moved between her thighs, touching her through her jeans, she felt heat spiral inside. Her world flashed, went dark. She floated and she wanted him with her. He pushed her over the edge.

Sam hadn’t taken his pleasure. If she could just rest for a few minutes, she would show him real earth-shaking pleasure.

***

Mary Marvella has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember. She made up stories for the other children and created the details for their “let’s pretend” games. Sometimes the details were so real they scared the other children away; sometimes she even scared herself. The arrival of the book mobile was as exciting as hearing the music of the ice cream truck. It was more exciting, since she could check out books but seldom had the money for the ice cream.

Mary was born in Augusta, Georgia to two eighteen-year-olds. Her daddy, a young Mississippi man, was stationed at Camp Gordon and fell in love with a young girl selling flowers. The story of this particular romance is told further in Mary’s blogs.

When Mary’s daughter was small, story time often meant Mama made up stories. Now retired from teaching the classic works of the masters, Mary writes her own stories and reads modern novels. Sometimes she writes books with steamy sex and danger.

Georgia raised, she writes stories with a Southern flair.

Get to know Mary and her work at the blogs linked above, and at her Amazon author page, website, and Facebook page.

 

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Jun 022014
 
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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?” To answer that question, twelve 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.

***

By Sally Swanson

In the not-so-distant past, erotic stories favored male readers and relegated women to the role of Object of Desire, rather than characterizing them as sentient and sensual beings. The comparatively new genre of erotic romance, however, empowers women to be in control of their bodies, their hearts, and most importantly their desires.

Erotic romance is hot and graphic, letting instincts run over the conventions of polite society. This titillating variation on the time-honored romance novel intertwines sex with romance as a tool to advance the storyline. The style is provocative—what some would call naughty.  Initially, a reader who is not familiar with the genre could perceive the sex scenes as gratuitous, yet they are integral and meaningful to the story. A good erotic romance author will share their characters’ feelings and insights before, during, and after sexual encounters—sharing intimate knowledge of their most fiercely guarded secrets.

Today’s heroine has a career and daily challenges, and these common experiences resonate with the reader. She is independent and accepts her sexuality, whether she is with a man or another woman—and no matter how dominant, submissive or versatile she likes her partners, she’s willing to go out and find them if need be. She takes charge of her life, unlike the traditional swooning, gothic heroine found in many romance novels, waiting for her One True Love to come and rescue her. Erotic heroines don’t have time for that. Their lives are often hectic and overbooked—qualities which, for some characters, some in handy as excuses to avoid intimacy.

Having sex isn’t nearly as intimidating as falling in love, and the heroine shares her subversive emotions of insecurity and doubt. The pain of love lost, unrequited love or a past relationship gone wrong can sully her ability to trust a new love interest (or indeed anyone), and drive her behind a shield of indifference. However, true love is the strongest force known to humankind and energizes even the most jaded soul. Being in love makes her vulnerable and strong at the same time.

With a variety of characters, the reader can see themselves in the participants or be a voyeur; in either case, that connection creates a bond with the characters and keeps the reader engaged. Women and men can enjoy erotic romance, and a well-written novel shares a variety of their perspectives. Erotic romance blends hedonistic sex scenes with tender passion, and the combination sizzles on the page. The reader feels this heat right alongside the characters as their growing tension tightens into tingling awareness. Wanton hedonism takes charge, revealing the core of their carnal desire and tender emotions to the reader—and together, they experience ultimate satisfaction.

But erotic romance doesn’t end with an orgasm—sometimes it begins with one. The heroine continues to battle antagonistic forces until love triumphs. Sometimes the heroine and her lover will decide that their future is together; sometimes one of them will move on. Either way, love unearths the most hidden and vulnerable aspects of the heroine and allows her to grow stronger from the experience—a “happily ever after” ending in its own right. In the end, she emerges confident and courageous.

Erotic romance empowers women to be the heroines of their own lives.

***

Sally Swanson is the author of the Soul Desire trilogy and the Ghost Lovers series. When she was twelve, she started to write her life story and realized she needed to live life before launching a writing career. To that end, she’s lived in or visited 46 of the 50 states and learned to speak Spanish while living in Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. If you haven’t yet guessed, she loves to travel—and, while doing do, she discovers strange-yet-true stories to provide fuel for Ghost Lovers, her latest paranormal romance series. If you like ghosts and steamy sensuality, you will love Ghost Dreams and Ghost Emerald, now available in multiple e-book formats.

 

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