Questionable: Sociology vs. Psychology in Writing Story

Jinx asked about a Scientific American essay called “The Real Reason Fans Hated the Last Season of Game of Thrones.” by Zeynep Tufekci: 

“I read a recent article from Scientific American . . .  with a thesis . . . that the series broke its implicit promise to viewers because when it reached the end of the author’s previously published material, the new showrunners switched from Martin’s more sociological approach to plotting and character development to one that is common to most film and tv writing these days, with a purely psychological perspective.  So… individuals moving through their conflicts with others, in place of individuals within a social framework adapting to others and finding their place in a complex social world.”

Criticism and analysis can be thought-provoking and insightful, but it’s rarely good writing advice.  It’s not meant to be writing advice, it’s not craft, it’s theory.  So while Tufekci’s analysis is interesting, it’s not a practical application for writers (which was not her intention, so not a flaw in her work).  The essay reminded me of my PhD course work (no I never finished the dissertation) when I did a ton of literary criticism, then started to write novels, then did my general exams.  One of my profs said, “Your criticism really changed once you started to write fiction.”  Well, yeah.  After publishing, I was on the inside looking out instead of on the outside looking in.  Big difference.

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Questionable: Can a Love Interest Be an Antagonist?

K asked:
“I have a question about villains – and layering them so that they engage with each other and the heroine. Some say the hero (love interest) is the main antagonist, others say there needs to be a stronger antagonist because he’s not one by the end. What say you? What have you found works the best?  Do more antagonists pop up as you write? How do you like to layer them? Do you have a limit/rule that you like or use?

Let’s start with the basics.

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Questionable: How Do You Show What the PoV Character Doesn’t See?

Sarah asked:
My question is about how to write a book in one PoV only, while still implying someone else’s PoV.   I’ve seen it done (clumsily, I think) in many many books: the PoV MC will say something off-hand to a potential lover (John) and the author writes, “John paused for a moment before replying, as if her remark had hurt him.” That seems to me to be cheating: the PoV MC is meant to be oblivious of John’s real feelings at this point, but the author shows us the card anyway. How blatant do I need to be in using the PoV MC to reveal someone else’s feelings? I know I need to a bit, but I’m struggling between clumsy (as above) and so subtle no one else gets it. 

S

Unless you’re writing in third omniscient, you only get one point of view, no implying others. So let’s review PoV first, then I’ll answer your specific question. There are four PoVs to choose from: first person, second person (don’t pick that one), third person omniscient and third person limited.

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Questionable: Character Chemistry with the Reader

This is another one from Draft Vault, and it included this note: “Somehow I hit “Publish” while this was still in draft form. Therefore, whatever went out in the RSS feed was a rough draft. Sorry about that.” I’m pretty sure I cut almost all of the previous draft, so this shouldn’t be a re-run at all.

Cate M asked:

“Could you do a post on a character chemistry? Not necessarily romantic chemistry, although that would be helpful too. Basically, once you’ve got your checklist of goals, motivation, conflict, how do you make sure the characters are actually fun to spend time with, and better together than they are apart?” Continue reading

Questionable: Love Scenes, Sex Scenes, Erotica

S said:

I would love to hear more about the difference between making love, having sex and erotica in a romance novel. What exactly makes them different from each other? . . . I always hear it described as ‘different levels of sizzle or heat’ but it seems to me that there is more to the grading than that. . . . Are there market expectations now re detailed sex? Romance novels seem to be getting more and more graphic (or maybe those are just the ones I’m buying!) I noticed in the [comments to the favorite love scene post] how few people listed a love scene that had any sex in it – I think I spotted one that took place in a bed. That’s interesting.

Sex is in the eye of the beholder.

Let me put that another way. Continue reading

Questionable: Multiple POVs

K M Fawcett asked:

I’d love some insight on writing a series of books. Especially POVs in them. I’m on Book 3 now of my sci-fi/ fantasy romance and this is the 3rd couple I’m writing. However, couples from the first 2 books are intertwined in the story as some are related to each other. I want to give them some POV scenes too but not sure if that takes away from the main romance. I’m not sure how to handle writing it. Would that other couple have to be a sub plot that runs through the story? Do I only keep it in this hero/heroine’s POV? I guess the question is how best to handle multiple POVs in a series. Also perhaps how much back story is appropriate to include so that new readers can follow along and old readers don’t get bored. Thanks!

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Bad Mothers

Robin just put a thought-provoking post on the Bad Mother in romance fiction over at Romancing the Blog, and I was writing a comment on it that went way too long and rambled. So I came back here to take the time and space to figure this out rather than sound like an idiot in her comments. You really need to read Robin’s post in its entirety but here’s her central question:

. . . is it a bit odd how many bad mothers there are in a genre that so strongly validates and celebrates domesticity and fertility? Or is that exactly the point?

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