Friday, June 1, 2012

Caught in a Bad Romance

So, so slack this week...so here is a guest post I wrote once for Wicked and Tricksy. For those of you who don't know, I have a secret identity as a writer of erotic romances. I know, it still makes me blush! And laugh. And try not to laugh at the same time as I'm already laughing, and then accidentally snort like a pig. 

So. This is a thing I wrote about that. 




Caught in a Bad Romance

Something weird happened when I decided to try and get published. After a few rejections — I’m choosing to see those as badges of pride rather than failure, my scars from the trenches where real authors hang out — I put the manuscript I love away for a while, and took a break. I needed the space. But because I couldn’t not write, I decided to experiment at writing to the market and I chose romance. How hard could it be, right? I hadn’t read any romance since school holidays at my grandmother’s house. She had mainly Mills and Boon: handsome doctors, beautiful and wilful heroines, and a lot of those misunderstandings that could be sorted out with a five-minute conversation if they both weren’t so damned proud. And so utterly annoying.

But I reckoned I could write one of those. I mean, these days they have sex in them and everything, as well as actual character development! Also, you can go paranormal, sci-fi, historical, or anything you want, as long as the romance is still at the core. So I gave it a go. And, dear god, a publisher wanted it.
When I say romance, you know I mean trashy, right? And when I say trashy, you know I mean smutty? Just so we’re all on the same page here. Oh, and don’t worry. This post won’t be an advertisement for my upcoming novel, because even my family doesn’t know what it’s called. It will remain, literally, my dirty secret.
In between my fits of giggling embarrassment where I alternated between burning shame and fantasies of being the next Larry Flynt, I realised something important: this is still writing. This is working with an editor, and learning the process. This is my period of apprenticeship, and I’m glad to have it.
But here is what I’ve learned:
Getting a TIN off the IRS if you’re not a US citizen is painstakingly slow. And you have to remember to put the month before the day in your date of birth, or they’ll send it back to you because you can’t have been born in the twenty-eighth month. Watch for that. It will set you back weeks.
Sex scenes without emotion are boring. Yeah, I’m a girl, get over it.
Working with an editor is awesome. Too many passive sentences? She’ll pick that up for you. Also, I use the word “felt” too much. Not anymore though! Pacing issues? A scene that doesn’t quite work? Your editor will send you suggestions to improve the flow and tighten the narrative. And these are skills that will translate into the rest of your writing.
(Your editor may also say things like, “Hmm, this felt like it was leading to a ménage.” You will think: “Holy crap, I’m in over my head! Reel it back! Reel it back!”)
Working with a line editor is less awesome. Those people earn every dollar, let me tell you. Not only will they pick up on those finicky grammatical errors that you left in there, they’ll point out where you’ve repeated a word in close proximity, where you’ve used any unnecessary words, and helpfully notice how it was daytime a second ago and now it’s night. And you will kick yourself, because you should have spotted all of that.
Writing is a business. You’re now a professional. Don’t fear deadlines: love them. Can you get that revised manuscript back within a week? Hell yes you can!
The iPhone world clock application will save you a lot of grief. Why, why hasn’t she got back to me yet? Does she hate it? I bet she hates it. Oh, right, it’s 2 a.m.
You will respect romance a lot more after you try and write it. You were an idiot for thinking it would be easy.
You will giggle like a loon when they send you the cover art. You won’t be able to help it, and the worst part is you won’t be able to show anyone why you’re laughing, because the cover art has the title of the book and your pen name on it.
But, most importantly, whatever genre you are choosing to write, the rules remain the same. You still need all the same elements: setting, plot, conflict, character, point of view, and theme. These are the basic building blocks of any piece of fiction, and whether your characters are fleeing the zombie apocalypse, trying to bring down a terrorist cell before the bomb goes off, or just sneaking away for a quickie in the middle of the day, none of it will work unless you have all those bases covered.
It turns out that writing is writing, and the more you write the better you get. So just write.
***
I wrote this almost a year ago now. I think the biggest issue I've come across since is the  Great Time Suck-- and I'm not talking about hours lost to actual writing, but to social networking. I'll post about that in a few days. 

14 comments:

  1. Someday I'm going to search every erotic book on Amazon for possums, and then your secret identity will be revealed. And then I'll have some cool - er, hot - reading to enjoy.

    By the way, since you wrote this last year, do you feel vindicated in your genre choice by the popularity of Fifty Shades?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll never find out my secret...mwahahaha!

      I haven't actually read Fifty Shades -- I can't get over the idea that it started life as Twilight fanfic and then, obviously, went horribly wrong. I mean, I didn't like Twilight int he first place. I don't think BDSM was going to improve it for me. You know, unless they accidentally choked one another.

      But hey, if it makes people willing to read a genre they might not have given much thought to before, that's got to be a good thing, right?

      Delete
  2. Good attitude to rejections. And it's wonderful that you managed to get accepted in something you just tried out for an experiment. Isn't it funny how that worked out!

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    Replies
    1. I know! So my advice is write anything, write everything, and throw it at publishers until something sticks!

      Delete
  3. You realize the recent break-ins by possums at your place have really been my attempt to get ahold of one of your erotic novels. I've spent the last year training those adorable creatures to retrieve books with half dressed women and men with chiseled abs on the cover. But, dammit, they keep getting distracted by bananas. Or maybe they're just confused by the mission, I don't know. Curses!! I will find out your pen name!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn those possums. I should have known they were being controlled by an evil genius!

      I looked at my cover art and thought "I'm pretty sure I didn't describe his abs like that, because I'm pretty sure I've never even seen abs like that. He should probably see a doctor, because that doesn't look normal."

      Delete
    2. So you're saying it does have a naked guy on the cover with great abs. Interesting...mwhahaha.

      Delete
    3. Lol! Good luck narrowing it down on that criteria!

      Delete
  4. Great post :) I agree that whatever you're writing, it is still writing and still hard work!

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    Replies
    1. And I'm learning heaps, which is great!

      Delete
  5. This is so inspiring! I think we forget that the lesson of writing is the same across the board. I love your advice in the comments above, "write everything, and throw it at publishers until something sticks"!
    Catherine Denton

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  6. One of my favorite blogs posts you wrote was when you mentioned something about PML over your "other" writing life. I thought it was the catchiest little phrase and ever since, I think of you when I'm about to PML...

    Sooner or later, LG, Maine Character, or some equally savvy searcher will find your name! Oh, no worries--we'll keep your secret. Swearsies. We just want to participate in the PML fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And then I can hold readings, and we can all PML!

      I think that's why I have to stay anonymous. In my other-author life I don't giggle about sex scenes and people doing naughty things. In this life I can't help it!

      Delete

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