Sunday, April 24, 2011
Erotic Romance & the making of a STORY
I love having guest authors to Five Scribes, especially when they make me think. And my dear friend Maryn Sinclair had me nodding vigorously as she validated point after point in this article. Maryn's alter ego was a finalist in the Mainstream division of the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Maryn is equally as talented as her mainstream counterpart. See if you don't agree. Please welcome Maryn Sinclair to The Five Scribes. ~ Donnell
I write Erotic Romance. Gasp. That's the stuff with lots of graphic sex, right? Right! But that's not all it is, at least not in my books, which I'll explain later. First, let's not get Erotic Romance mixed up with Erotica or Porn. Unlike those two, ER must have a HEA: A Happy Ever After ending. I wouldn't dream of putting two people together in sexual situations and not have them find a way to be together at the end. What would be the point? If you read my books, you'll know that up front. It's how they get through all their baggage--my characters always have baggage--and to get over their pasts or deal with the present that makes their stories interesting. That is a totally objective viewpoint, you understand.
I've always incorporated sex in my stories. I've had critique partners suggest that if I eliminated the sex in my "straight" books--the ones I write under another name--they would be more salable. Yet I'm always amazed at those who have no problem reading or writing about killing people in every bizarre possible way. Poison? Sure. Which is the most obscure, and how can my main character get his/her hands on it? Stabbing? shooting, mutilation, blood spurting from the carotid artery? Why not?
But sex? Uh-uh. Shiver. Close that door and don't look.
What's wrong with that picture?
What could be more uplifting than making love to someone? To touch, feel, taste a person who makes your heart sing just by being next to him?
I guarantee that unless you're a reader or writer who's been involved in some form of law enforcement, most of you have never seen blood puddling around a dead body or had anything to do with a murder investigation. BUT, I bet almost every one of you has made love, knows what it feels like, and, heaven forbid, enjoyed the hell out of it. So what's your problem with reading it? Or writing it? Why does a sexual relationship make some readers uncomfortable?
Is it because you deem it too personal? Is it that the James Bonds of the world can openly indulge in sexual encounters without being judged but women can't? Men are rakishly sexy when they bed every woman in sight; women are, well, you know what they're called. Did we not burn our bras for equality? (Full disclosure: I didn't burn mine. I needed it.)
I do have limits, however. I don't write werewolves, vampires or shapeshifters. Nothing against them, but I don't understand that world. I have a hard enough time understanding the world I live in, let alone invent one. No heavy BDSM, although I will mix that element into my stories in more subtle ways. I haven't written dom/sub stories, or D/s, as it's often written. I have no problem with those, either. They're just not anything that turns me on to write about UNLESS it's an equal opportunity kind of thing. You know, what's good for the gander is good for the goose. I don't spank. I was spanked as a kid. I don't see anything sexy or erotic about being spanked. I do have a light bondage scene in SEXUAL PERSUASION, but there's a reason. Really, there is. And it's consensual. That's not to say I won't ever write anything that falls into that category, but like nude scenes in movies, there has to be a reason.
My characters have hang-ups or histories that keep them from getting what they don't think they want, which is a relationship. In other words, they have a story. And that's my point. Gee, it took me long enough to get here. Erotic romance can have a story and can and should be more than just about sex. The romance can be between a man and a woman, two men, or two women. It can be a combination of multiples. Sure it may start out as lust. Doesn't every romance start out with two people who click on some hormonal level? Call it pheromones or magnetic attraction. It happens, and we've all experienced it. At least I hope we have. Some are like shooting stars that burn bright, then die out on the way down to earth. Others develop into loving relationships and burn forever.
In SEXUAL PERSUASION, my first release for e-publisher Loose Id http://www.loose-id.com/ my hero, Alex, is immediately drawn to my heroine, Charlotte. It's the second time in his life that Alex has experienced that overpowering chemistry. The first time happened seventeen years before, and it was with another man. That relationship ended badly, and Alex has intentionally kept from any involvements.
Charlotte, my heroine, is pretty, smart, and a good businesswoman. Her weakness is that she chooses the wrong men to fall in love with. She's sworn off men, at least for now. (Come on, you know how it's going to end. I've already given that part away.) Alex is the attorney for Boston's number one racketeer, and the gossip is he's the racketeer's lover, which makes him another man in a long line of Charlotte's bad choices. But is he?
Add Charlotte's sleazy, BDSM-loving ex-boyfriend (notice I get that element in peripherally. Sneaky, huh?), a crooked land deal, and Alex's old lover, and you have the makings of ...a story. See?
So, it doesn't have to be all about sex, although by the very nature of the genre that's an integral, no, a major part of writing erotic romance. You wouldn't write an erotic romance without, well, sex, any more than you'd write a mystery without mystery or a thriller without something thrilling happening.
I found writing erotic romance harder than straight suspense or romantic suspense. Not only did I have to develop that story I talked about, but I had to make the romance and the sensual moments believable. Oh, and original. Did I do it? I think so, but that will be up to the readers. My second novel with Loose ID, THE ESCORT--no release date yet--is nothing like SEXUAL PERSUASION, which if you haven't figured out the title's meaning, it has to do with Alex's, um, sexual persuasion. My third effort is nothing like the first two.
Many of my writer friends confessed that they've tried to write graphic sex scenes and couldn't. I'm not sure if it's those drilled-in inhibitions about sex that keeps them from writing the genre or if it's just too hard. Probably a little of both. I found it challenging, and I think I'll keep finding it that way. I also found it fun. And what could be better than to have fun writing every day? Hmm, I can think of one thing. Wanna guess?
Maryn Sinclair is a New England native living in the South who loves creating characters that murder, love, hate, and connive, but mostly love. She's lived in Italy and pursued a few careers, all having to do with the arts. Then writing took her by storm, and she hasn’t stopped. She speaks dialogue in the car while driving, makes notes in the middle of half-heartedly doing something else, and prays that no one notices her idiosyncratic behavior and carts her off to some place nice and quiet where she can be treated. She hasn’t been found out yet, so she's safe for the time being. To learn more about Maryn, check out her web site at http://MarynSinclair.com