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

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Leverage Sunday: The Nigerian Job by John Rogers & Chris Downey: Creating a Community

Setting up a community isn’t easy; getting that many people on the page or screen and keeping them all individualized while combining them into a unit normally takes some time, a slow build so that the reader or viewer can get to know each member as the team gradually bonds. Some series–Person of Interest and Arrow, for example–do this over many episodes, adding one member at a time. And then there’s Leverage, a show that dropped five loners into the first episode, fused them into a unit, and never stopped running. The pilot for the series is a great tutorial on how to create a team very quickly while individualizing all its members. Continue reading

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The Romance Contract

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I’ve been e-mailing with Pam Regis, Argh’s Academic in Residence, about the romance contract, the agreement that romance writers make with their readers. From Pam’s first e-mail:

The unspoken contract in romance fiction is that the parties to the courtship will end up together. They’ll overcome whatever barriers there are to that ending-up-together and commit to each other. For most of the genre’s history, the outward sign of that commitment was marriage–no longer a requirement, although still quite common.

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Sharp Soap: Why I’m An Arrow Fangirl

I’ve been on a writing wonk tear recently. I had two books going at once, and both were blocked, so I threw myself into good TV, trying to find a different way into story and ended up with a third book because I’ve become so fascinated by episodic storytelling. I’ve been taking apart everything I’ve been watching, trying to see how it works or doesn’t work, and there are several series I’ve been particularly fascinated by because of the choices their showrunners make, good and bad. I’ve learned a lot from Sherlock, Life on Mars, and Person of Interest among others, but the show that has reawakened my old zest for storytelling is an over-the-top superhero series that I started watching because I was stuck in a rental house and losing my mind. It took me a couple of episodes to notice what the writers were doing on Arrow, but once I wrapped my mind around it, I realized that there was a lot the show could teach me if I was just open to it. If I had to use one word to describe the showrunners and writers behind Arrow, it would be “fearless.” Also, possibly “drunk,” because these people will go anywhere. Continue reading

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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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