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Thread: I need some help

  1. #1
    Zombies!!!
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    I need some help

    Hey, everyone.
    I'm writing a romance-ish story (My first romance story).
    I'm having issues getting it to sound good.
    I fear it's due to my lack of experience in the area of romance.
    Sure, I've experienced romance, but I guess not enough to be able to write this stuff from experience. If I wrote simply from my experience, the sex scenes would be dull and boring, in my opinion.
    The romance would be lacking feeling and the one-on-one interaction between the guy and girl would be a bit off.

    So, If any of you romance writers would like to give me a hand, that would be awesome. My goal is not to make an erotic story, but if it gets good enough, it might just turn into such.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my post.

    -M.J.Reed

  2. #2
    Superpowers: Making babies, writing MeganJoWrites's Avatar
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    So, are you asking for help in writing the intimate scenes? Sexy times?

    My suggestion would be to read some romance/erotica. Even if you don't write erotica, the descriptions should help you.

    And if you are really uncomfortable with it, I wouldn't force it. You can kinda "fade to black" as they say. So sex/intimacy is implied rather than stated.
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW S. L. Saboviec's Avatar
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    You've asked an open-ended question. You need to clarify what help you're asking for.

    Are you asking for someone to romance you?
    or
    Are you asking for pointers on how to write a good romance?

    There's a lot of information all over the boards on how to write good stories and good romance stories.

  4. #4
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Not sure what you mean by lacking experience. I write menage romance, but I can assure you that I'm not writing from personal experience.

    The best way to learn how to write within a genre is to read heavily in that genre. If you haven't done that, it needs to be your first step. As you read, notice how the writer conveys emotion within the sex scenes, not just logistics (which are pretty important, too).



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  5. #5
    Superlative Type A shameless's Avatar
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    If you give us something a little more specific, we might be able to help. It boils down to this, though... If you're not a romance reader, you're not going to understand the genre very well if you start writing it. Best place to "learn" about how to write a romance is to read a bunch.

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  6. #6
    Zombies!!!
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    sorry. lol
    Let me try to clarify this.

    I've not found very much Erotica or Romance fiction that grabs my attention. So, if anyone knows of some really good selections in those genres, by all means, share.

    In my "Lack of experience" comment, what I meant was that I'm sort of lost as to how to make a romance / sexy-time scene seem real and natural versus forced and fake. I guess reading more in the genre would help me out immensely, but I find it hard to read poorly-written and formatted submissions, of which the web has much to offer.

    I was not implying that I am looking for "Sexy-time experience", or that I want anyone here to tell me how to write a story. I just have difficulty putting it down on paper. Just looking for some advice on writing something that people actually want to read.

    Thanks for your feedback.
    -MJ Reed
    Phil a.k.a. "M.J. Reed"

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  7. #7
    Playing the waiting game MsLaylaCakes's Avatar
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    Since most of us who responded are writers who have books out, we would love to recommend our own works! (joking...)

    Okay, do you have a genre in mind?

    If it's paranormal (I'm basing this on you writing a zombie story...zombie story writers unite!) I would recommend anything by Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling for shifters, Guild Hunters for angels/vampires). Her writing is beautiful and the characterization...sigh....I'm such a fangirl. If I had just a teensy bit of her talent ... nvm...let's move on. For steamier (I'd even say explicit) paranormal romance, there's Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark Series. I have no idea why her stuff isn't considered "erotic romance" as it is more explicit than anything I've ever written.

    If you're looking at their earlier works, you might be able to find pretty cheap used copies.

    I'm a tunnel-vision reader so I can't help you on spy stories. Linda Howard is my favorite romantic suspense writer (but go for her earlier works). Doesn't write about spies though.
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  8. #8
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    I'm going to echo some of the advice given above --

    Read.

    Read, not as a reader, but as a writer.

    Go pick yourself up a couple of books by Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. They should be available in your local used book store. Try for short books, something not as thick as your thumb.

    Get out a set of highlighters -- yellow, red, green, blue etc.

    After you've skimmed the book, go back and look at the first scene in Chapter Three. You're going to mark the beginning of the scene by drawing a pen line across the page.

    What makes a scene? In general, a scene is in one setting; it deals with one problem or intention; and the main character of the scene is there from beginning to end.
    When you go somewhere else and start doing something else or you switch to another focus character, you're in a different scene. Generally.

    So. Mark the other end of the scene.
    How long is it? (Pages in paperback average 250 words per page.)

    I have a JAK in hand, Copper Beach. Chapter Three is one scene, a talking heads scene between the protagonist and a boat captain. It's seven pages which is roughly 1750 words.

    One reason you're looking at the length of a scene is that a common problem with early manuscripts is the scenes are too short.

    Next, you're going to do some marking.

    Mark all the dialog -- the stuff inside quote marks -- in red.
    Mark all internals -- that is, when we see the character's thoughts -- in blue.
    Mark anything that shows movement of the body in space -- sit, turn, walk, light a cigarette, shoot somebody -- in green.
    Mark description -- color, smell, placement of objects, landscape, shape of somebody's nose -- in yellow.

    Anything that's concerned with stuff happening outside of the scene can be fuschia or whatever you have left. Sometimes this will be narrative intrusion of backstory. Often this out-of-the-here-and-now comes in internals. It's generally the writer talking to the reader, passing along information.

    So if the character says, "That's a pretty flower," it gets marked in red.

    If the character goes on to think, A rose. I wonder why she has roses on the table. Did somebody send them to her? It gets marked in blue.

    If the character knocks the ash off his cigarette, it's green.

    If the character then thinks, We had roses in the garden of the priory, when I was seven or I'm going back there someday to root them out of the ground or My mother was a great gardener or I could grow roses if I had to, that might be fuschia. It's not in the here-and-now of the story.

    So if you start out with:
    "That's a pretty flower," he said, taking a cigarette out of the pack. A rose. I wonder why she has roses on the table. Did somebody send them to her?

    He didn't care much for that possibility. He patted through his pockets. He had matches in here somewhere.

    He remembered . . . Mother had been a great gardener. She loved the flowers more than her children. We had roses everywhere in the garden of the priory, back when I was seven.

    A few red petals had fallen from the bouquet onto the white tablecloth. They were the color of blood.
    You end up with something like:

    "That's a pretty flower," he said, taking a cigarette out of the pack. A rose. I wonder why she has roses on the table. Did somebody send them to her?

    He didn't care much for that possibility. He patted through his pockets. He had matches in here somewhere.

    He remembered . . . Mother had been a great gardener. She loved the flowers more than her children. We had roses everywhere in the garden of the priory, back when I was seven.

    A few red petals had fallen from the bouquet onto the white tablecloth. They were the color of blood.
    Look at how the 'parts of writing' work together.
    NR and JAK are masters of balancing these elements.

    After you've done a dozen scenes from NR and JAK, go back to some of your own work and apply those highlighters.
    Last edited by job; 01-31-2013 at 07:33 PM.

  9. #9
    Lurker tlmorganfield's Avatar
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    If you're not wanting to buy books (maybe you don't have much money), your local library probably has a good collection of romance novels to chose from, both old and recent. A lot of libraries also offer ebook check outs, if you have a kindle or a Nook or don't mind reading on your PC with Adobe Digital Editions.
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  10. #10
    Follow your heart; take your brain SelmaW's Avatar
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    Wow. Was going to come here to echo "Read, read read" like those seagulls in Finding Nemo, but Job's post hit it out of the ballpark. Heck, I think I'm going to go do what she recommended.

  11. #11
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Job is amazing. She's basically our personal romance goddess around here.



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  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    The best thing to do, IMHO, is to have a glass or wine or whatever (assuming you are old enough) and just write it. Then get some feedback from honest third parties (e.g. the erotica share your work forum, again assuming you are old enough).

  13. #13
    Inarticulate Herb MumblingSage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorganfield View Post
    If you're not wanting to buy books (maybe you don't have much money), your local library probably has a good collection of romance novels to chose from, both old and recent. A lot of libraries also offer ebook check outs, if you have a kindle or a Nook or don't mind reading on your PC with Adobe Digital Editions.
    Barring that (though of course I'd suggest published romance/erotica books first, both to support your fellow authors and learn what's editors are taking on currently), you can get free fic in a variety of quality through fanfiction, if you're part of a fandom. Really stellar fanfic will show you how to write those scenes of searing intimacy, although I'd go to the professionals for managing plot and genre.
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  14. #14
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    our personal romance goddess around here.
    AW is my secret vice. When I'm supposed to be writing I sneak over here and hang out, all furtive about it.

    AW is kinda like chocolate for me. Not just any kind. The European milk chocolate with the high cocoa butter content.

  15. #15
    Zombies!!!
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    Thanks for the advice, everyone.
    And I am indeed old enough to drink, and enter the more graphic erotica areas of the site. (I'm 26). I'll check out the suggested reading material.
    I'm also friends Via Facebook with a published writer whose last published work was an erotic novel. I'll have to re-read that one, for sure.

    As for highlighting things...I'm a guy. Therefore, I have one color highlighter...yellow.
    I'll have to pick up a variety of colors next time I'm at the store.

    I do look forward to the point where I hit 50 posts, and can share my work.
    Until then....I've posted links in my signature to my posted work on another site.

    I've been doing most of my writing at work though, and therefore have to limit the amount of NSFW content I write. (We've been VERY slow the past few months...)

    -MJReed
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  16. #16
    In search of my marbles ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by job View Post
    Look at how the 'parts of writing' work together.
    NR and JAK are masters of balancing these elements.

    After you've done a dozen scenes from NR and JAK, go back to some of your own work and apply those highlighters.
    If I had to pay in gold bullion to be part of AW, this post alone would have made it worth it. Thanks, JOB! I'm off to work over a few scenes of my MS with whatever colored markers I can scrounge from my kids' old "marker box". Maybe I'll even find a few with tops that have been snapped on tight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew J. Reed View Post
    As for highlighting things...I'm a guy. Therefore, I have one color highlighter...yellow.
    -MJReed
    And, LOLOL, Matthew. Thanks for the morning laugh. What a great way to start the day! (My college-age son is a firm believer in one highlighter but 4 colors of duct tape.)

  17. #17
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineA View Post
    Thanks, JOB! I'm off to work over a few scenes of my MS with whatever colored markers I can scrounge
    I took my message over to my blog and posted it. I do that sometimes when I have a chunk of writing advice handy. The post shows up in a slightly expanded form here, and I got some interesting comments about how we use different writing elements to pace scenes.
    Last edited by job; 02-02-2013 at 12:08 AM.

  18. #18
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    I wrote a long blog series a few years back about writing sex scenes, which also covers things like building chemistry etc. People seem to have found it helpful.

    http://www.staciakane.net/tag/be-a-s...ting-strumpet/

    (Go back to page 3, and start at the bottom.)
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  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin julie_a_w's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelmaW View Post
    Heck, I think I'm going to go do what she recommended.
    Yeah, me too. I need to go get a set of highlighters!

  20. #20
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    And this is why I love AW.
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  21. #21
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    And this is why I love AW.
    I know, right? I'm sitting in my local library right now with two of Job's books, scrutinizing them (though the library staff is probably grateful I'm not applying highlighters to the pages).



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  22. #22
    Gina gcsalamon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew J. Reed View Post
    I'm writing a romance-ish story (My first romance story).

    I fear it's due to my lack of experience in the area of romance.

    -M.J.Reed

    Lots of great advice already given, so I won't repeat.

    But I just have to ask: I'm curious as to why you would chose to write a romance in the first place? It sounds to me like (1) it isn't the type of book you enjoy reading, and (2) you're not writing what you know, or feel comfortable with.

    Just wondering.

  23. #23
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcsalamon View Post
    Lots of great advice already given, so I won't repeat.

    But I just have to ask: I'm curious as to why you would chose to write a romance in the first place? It sounds to me like (1) it isn't the type of book you enjoy reading, and (2) you're not writing what you know, or feel comfortable with.

    Just wondering.
    I won't speak for the OP, but I can say that many writers make the decision to try writing outside their comfort zone. Sometimes it's done as a personal challenge to see if they can. Sometimes it's a way to learn new ways to write. Sometimes it's just because a particular genre is hot and they'd like to earn a living. There's lots of reasons and it can help to broaden your knowledge base.
    Last edited by Beachgirl; 02-02-2013 at 09:16 PM.



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  24. #24
    Gina gcsalamon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    I won't speak for the OP, but I can say that many writers make the decision to try writing outside their comfort zone.
    Doesn't seem like a smart choice to me, though. I believe in the saying: Write what you know. Especially if you want it to be good writing.

  25. #25
    Hopeful romantic/hopeless pedant ARoyce's Avatar
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    JoB--I adore you. Always have. Between here and Compuserve and your blog, you're phenomenal. I'd also consider your novels lessons themselves!

    Matthew--consider too that not all romances include sexy-time scenes. Some may have kissing and heated moments but then close the bedroom door so we don't see the intimate action. That's perfectly okay.

    Having said that, any action scene should serve to move the story forward in some way...whether that's building/resolving conflict or revealing character. Sex scenes are action scenes too. So if you decide to use them, they should be steeped in who these characters are, how they act, how they think. What is each character revealing about himself or herself (and I don't mean physically)?

    And I wholeheartedly agree with the advice to read, read, read! Not only will that help you see the characteristics of well-written romance, but it will also give you a clearer sense of the genre and where your work can fit into that field.
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