Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Writer Stuff Wednesday: About love scenes...

First, a disclaimer: I am not the be-all end-all authority about writing love scenes. That being said, I've written and edited a lot of them. So I've seen a lot.

One thing I've seen too much, especially from newer writers, is what I call (not uniquely) the "insert part B into slot A phenomenon". The author dutifully describes the act of having sex. He does this, she does that, this goes here and that happens. The words are different than that, of course, but the reader has the same reaction in every case: Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Zzzzzz is not good. Your reader starts to lose interest. They begin to skim. They put the book down. They wander away. You've lost them. Not what you intended to do when you began writing the scene, or the story. Why? Because you've failed to make an emotional connection with your reader.

Your primary goal as a writer is to make an emotional connection with the reader. 

An emotional connection is the key. That's what keeps them involved in your story, keeps them reading--and makes them want to buy your next book. ( maybe that's your primary goal, but it sounds so--ugh--materialistic. We write for writing's sake, right? Of course.)

Well, that's fine, you say. But how? 

Get in touch with your character and your reader will be involved. 

Add some emotion and physical reactions, but avoid using adjectives and adverbs. Oops. This is the kind of directive that will have you running to your writer buddies saying , "WTF?" Okay…let me see if I can explain it better…say your hero caresses the heroine's soft breast. That's only a surface description. (Insert hand A over part B.) You have to go deeper. What does his touch DO to her? Does her breast heat/tingle/insert reaction of your choice here? What does his touch do to her EMOTIONS? Does she love it? Hate it?

Of course, you don't have to go deep into your character's psyche and experience with every caress, but you have to build some layers.

Layer that scene like a lasagna!

Every love scene needs layers. You want to think of the Body/the Head/the Heart. (Physical/Mental/Emotional). Otherwise, you'll end up with a flat scene that reads like an instruction manual. And that's what I see, too often. The new writer stays at the surface of the action without adding those crucial layers that make a reader a part of it. Because by giving your reader those pieces, she (or he) will be able to put themselves in your characters' places. The connection is made.

Now, get to work. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tom's Twelve Days of Christmas

Many thanks to my ten-year-old for today's post. It was a homework assignment; personally, I'd give the kid an "A"--especially because all the animals and some of the incidents mentioned in his rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas are all from real life. (Um...well...yeah.)

Here are the original "twelve" in the Christmas carol:

Day one: Partridge in a pear tree
Day two: two turtledoves
Day three: three French hens
Day four: four calling birds
Day five: five golden rings
Day six: six geese a-laying
Day seven: seven swans a-swimming
Day eight: eight maids a milking
Day nine: nine ladies dancing
Day ten: ten lords a-leaping
Day eleven: eleven pipers piping
Day twelve: twelve drummers drumming

Tom's Version:

On the first day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me a squirrel in a pine tree.
On the second day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me two dead mice.
On the third day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me three guinea hens.
On the fourth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me four dying birds.
On the fifth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me FIVE GOLDEN POOPS!
On the sixth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me six running mailmen.  
On the seventh day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me seven neighbors complaining.
On the eighth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me eight angry dog catchers.
On the ninth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me nine days of quarantine.
On the tenth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me ten barks of joy.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me eleven tails a-wagging.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my two dogs gave to me twelve licks of love.

Merry Christmas--we're counting down the days!

Oh, and speaking of merry--

Naughty Can Be Nice received four flaming hearts from Everybody Needs a Little Romance!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a market for it...

Since my story concerns Santa Claus, I thought I'd spend the rest of the month focusing on The Big Man himself, with the occasional foray into topics also Christmas related.

Here is a copy of the original column printed in the September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun, and it answers the question: "Is there a Santa Claus?". As you may know, this editorial, one of the most-run columns in the English language was a response to the question posed by eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon (see "Dear Editor" to the left).

An interesting side note (found on Wikipedia):

Some people have questioned the veracity of the letter's authorship, expressing doubt that a young girl such as Virginia would refer to children her own age as "my little friends." However, the original copy of the letter appeared and was authenticated by an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow in 1998. Its value was appraised by Kathleen Guzman, formerly of Christie's—now with PBS' Antiques Roadshow—at $20,000–$30,000.[2]

Ho, ho, ho-ly correspondence...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Release Day!

Merry Christmas to me! Naughty Can Be Nice has been released!

I'd tell you more about it, except it's more fun to have you jump to my friend Moira's blog. She asks the most interesting interview questions I've ever answered.

And here's something she didn't mention. I'm giving away a freebie--so leave a comment and one of you lucky people will get a copy of Naughty. :) Good luck and thanks for checking it out!

Happy day, everyone.