Sex or No Sex…That is the Question

So you want to write a love scene, huh?

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Let’s see if we can break it down to make it easier for you to tackle that dreaded love scene you’ve been avoiding for months.

First thing’s first, let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

Is the sex needed? Does it push the plot forward or help your character’s grow? I personally only write a sex scene if it pushes the story in the right direction or if it forces the characters to grow, either positively or negatively depending on the story. So, is the sex necessary to SHOW their journey? I emphasize show, because it’s too easy to tell. That’s the point of writing the sex scenes, to show the intimacy and how it affects the characters, not to mention the plot. The sex isn’t porn to get your reader turned on, it’s to show the connection, the bond between the characters.

What are your character’s telling you? Yes, I realize this makes you sound crazy, but I’m dead serious. Your characters will lead you if you let them, and going against them will make the story or the scene sound forced. Trust your characters to know their own story and lead you down the right road. Believe me, some of the best scenes I’ve ever written have come from letting them take control, and not just in the bedroom. *wink*

What is the point of the scene? Really think about this…is it sex for the sake of titillation or is it a dynamic revelation of emotion for the characters? This always comes at the editing phase for me. You really have to think about it. If you’re writing a romance, this is important because the entire focus of the story is on the relationship between the characters. Sex is a major factor in that so you have to take it into consideration. Do I need to show the intimacy to really portray the emotions and conflict of the story? It comes down to personal preference of the author to be honest. You can’t write something you don’t feel coming from your characters. Don’t sell your soul by adding sex just to have it there. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it.

What’s your heat level? There are many different types of love scenes with heat levels ranging from sweet to erotic. When I say sweet, I don’t mean closed door sex (when you lead the reader to the bedroom door and then slam it in their face.) I mean generalizing the experience, a soft touch here, a vague euphemism there. Let the reader know they had sex, but don’t go into detail. Erotic is going into hard core detail, drawing the scenes out, making them encompass most of the story. Erotica itself is about the sex more than the plot. Romance is about the plot more than the sex.

My publisher, Breathless Press, has a Heat Level Chart (this is taken directly from their submissions page HERE):

0 – No love scenes.

1 – Sweet Confections: Unconsummated sensual scenes, or love scenes that contain no description of actions.

2 – Monogamous couples. Infrequent loves scenes with no graphic language.

3 – Explicit love scenes with graphic or strong language.

4 – Frequent and explicit loves scenes/graphic depictions of sexual situations. May include BDSM, D/s, homoerotic sex acts.

5 – Diablo Delights: No holds barred high frequency of sexual interactions with strong erotic content. Extreme BDSM, group sex, ménage, ménage a trios. No HEA (Happily Ever After) required.

My stories normally hover around a 2 or 3, depending on the language I use. This chart may help you figure out how “hot” you want your stories to be. I will be writing a post in the next few weeks about the language we use in romance and some of the “trigger” words that make me cringe as a reader. (Everyone has their own trigger words, but I’ll only address mine.)

Another thing that may help you determine your heat level is your comfort zone. It’s kind of hard to write BDSM or ménage when you’re not comfortable with it. So make sure you write what you’re comfortable with, or your discomfort will show in the prose.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or questions. I’d love to discuss this more, but I don’t want to bore everyone. *giggles*

Until next week…

❤ Kirsten

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Another One! A Shadow’s Kiss…Coming Soon.

I’ve been a terrible blogger.  Just down right, absolutely horrible. I have not posted in a long while and for that I apologize.

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But in my defense, I have been productive.

My second book is in the finalization process with my publisher right now and will be hitting the market on July 4th!

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That’s how I feel right about now.  A little goofy, a tad giddy, and all kinds of relieved. I’ve put the work into the story. Now it’s time to let that story shine.

I did a cover reveal last week…so I’m happy to share the cover with you here, along with a snippet from the story.

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Gorgeous isn’t it? One of the things that drew me to my publisher was their cover art.  They are dedicated to making sure your cover art is gorgeous and represents your book in a way YOU want it. ❤ Makes me so happy.

Now…would you like a teaser?  A taste of A Shadow’s Kiss….ehehehe.

Here you go…

Madeline spotted the archery targets near one of the tents. A line of bows and quill of arrows sat against the tent. While Evelyn had trained with her bow, Madeline participated in a lesson or two but only rarely since many disapproved of a lady indulging in such an activity. Her palm itched for the feel of the smooth wood in her hand, to feel the tension coil as she drew the arrow back. With a soft curse, Madeline picked up a bow and a single arrow. She glanced around and saw no one.

She was alone.

The wood slid against her skin, comforting and familiar. Nocking the arrow, she pulled the bow up and slowly drew it back. Her arms trembled at the pull of tension. Aiming at the target, she exhaled and released the arrow. With a solid thwack, her arrow sang true, striking just below the center of the target. Her heart raced as she picked up a second arrow. She aimed and sent it to join the first, but it hit too low again. Furrowing her brow, she reached for a third.

“Aim just above where you want to hit when shooting from this distance.” A deep, familiar voice rumbled behind her. Madeline spun around, the bow dropping to her side. Alexander stood with his arms crossed, his expression unreadable. “Here,” he said, stepping toward her. “Let me show you.”

Madeline stepped back as he approached. “I thought you left,” she stammered, her heart fluttering at the sight of him. His broad shoulders filled out the linen shirt, and his body wrapped in layers of plaid. She licked her lips. He appeared more dangerous now than he did when clad in chain mail and a coat of plates.

“Your brother, Angus, made a very convincing argument for why I should stay.”

Her mouth hung open. Before she could ask him what Angus said, he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around. Facing the target, she took a breath to steady her hands.

“What are you doing?” she asked as he stepped up behind her. His heat melted into her back, she wanted to sway into him, lean her weight against his body. But she forced herself to stand straight. He tipped the bow up.

“Nock your arrow,” he said, as he guided her fingers to position it. “Aye, like that.”

His breath caressed the side of her face as he leaned beside her. His left hand covered hers on the bow, while the light caress of his right hand guided hers as she drew the string back. Her heart raced, thundering as a storm of desire raged inside of her. His scent of leather and horse mingled with the highland air. She forgot to breathe.

“Now aim just above where you want the arrow to strike,” he whispered. Her eyes drifted closed. “Release.”

She let the arrow fly. It struck the target dead center. He stepped away. A small groan of disappointment left her lips as the moment ended. She turned to face him, not caring about the damned target anymore.

Alexander watched her, his lips curved into a hint of a smile. “With some practice, you could become proficient with a bow.”

Madeline put the bow back with the others. “Why are you still here, Alexander?” She sighed. Her heart ached at the sweet torture of him standing so close. She had resigned herself to her fate. She would marry the winner of the tournament out of duty and respect for her family name. Taking a deep breath, she faced him again. “Have you nothing better to do than torture me with your presence?”

“You wish me to leave then?” His eyes betrayed nothing, but his voice held a hint of regret.

“Aye.” She turned away from him. Why must he do this to her? What pleasure did he get from seeing her torn with indecision and sadness? For two months, she prayed he would take notice of her shy glances, her flirtatious smiles. Now she was promised to another, he spoke to her. How cruel could fate be? “Leave.”

I look forward to sharing the story with you soon.  🙂  Thanks for stopping by.

~ Kirsten

 

Have you learned anything, writer mine?

I feel the need to share some of the things I’ve learned in the past few months during my journey as a writer.

Serious things:

  1. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s shit. Just write. You can’t edit a blank page. You can’t publish nothing. End of story.
  2. Edit. Edit the first draft, edit the second draft, and then edit one more time before you submit your story to anyone.
  3. Beta Readers can be your best resource. Even better is when you can get a mix of writers and non-writers to beta for you. That is the best combination to work out the kinks in your story.
  4. Don’t get defensive when you get feedback on your writing. It’s nothing personal.
  5. In the same vein, don’t bash an author’s work because you didn’t like their personal choices for the plot, characters, etc.  Be professional and critique to improve what they already have on the paper, don’t add your own creative ideas.

Silly things:

  1. Social media is a black hole, so is YouTube, Google, and Deviant Art.  Beware all who enter there.
  2. Write how you’re comfortable, even if that means naked in bed with a pen and a notepad.  (TMI?)
  3. Being a fangirl can have positive influence on your writing, and your sex life…trust me.
  4. Friends say they want to be in your stories, but they really don’t.
  5. Don’t listen to the haters, take it with a grain of salt and move on.  Even though you want to punch their effin lights out.  *smiles innocently*

So…I hope my list has enlightened you and slightly disturbed you.  *evil laugh*

Can you relate to any of these?

A Subconscious Attraction to History

A Subconscious Attraction to History

I’m a romance junkie, I admit that.  But what I love more than a good romance novel, is good historical fiction.  What can I say?  A well crafted historical setting sucks me into a story just as quickly as well rounded characters and witty dialog.

There are three time periods that immediately catch my attention as a reader.

1. Medieval

2. Regency

3. Victorian

Now, while those three catch my attention right away, it doesn’t mean that other historical time periods don’t interest me.  If the right elements are there, then I’ll give it a try.

As a writer, I find I gravitate towards historical settings.  The story comes easier if it’s set in another time period.  Why?  I haven’t a foggy clue, but I’m intrigued by the phenomenon all the same.

In the past two years, I’ve made notes for a dozen stories in my writing journal.  None of them conform to any semblance of a pattern.

1. Early Victorian

2. Late Victorian/Time Travel

3. Twisted Fairy Tale/Medieval

4. Medieval

5. 1923 Prohibition/Jazz Age

6. Mid 1870s Western

7. Romantic Suspense/Contemporary/Paranormal

8. 1980s/Contemporary/Time Travel

None of these stories interact.  They are all unique to themselves.  Do you see a pattern?  Yeah, most of them are historical.  One of the most frustrating things about writing historical fiction is the research.

It is very easy to get lost in the research for one specific time period.  When I wrote my first novel, An Irresistible Shadow, I thought I would drown in research for the mid 14th Century.  I worried about not being accurate, being inconsistent, and worse…using modern slang by mistake!  Fear of making these mistakes didn’t keep me from writing the story though.  In fact, it only strengthened my resolve to finish it.

I’ve embraced my subconscious attraction to the past, to the history that laid the foundation of our world.  After all, isn’t history just one enormous story?

Tell me your favorite time period.  Has a specific piece of historical fiction wormed it’s way into your heart?

From Second Fiddle to Top Gun

How does a Secondary Character find his way into role as Hero?

We’ve all had secondary characters that are persistent in their views, but have you ever had one that demanded his or her own story?  I have one particularly frustrating secondary character…and his name is Angus.

Angus made his first appearance at the end of my novel, An Irresistible Shadow.  He is the brother of another secondary character, Madeline.  She earned the role of heroine in my upcoming story, A Dutiful Shadow.  While Angus reprises his role as second fiddle in this book, he was rather demanding during its production.  He tried to persuade me to write his story using his intoxicating Scottish brogue and charming wit.  I was steadfast, however.  This was not his tale.  He would have to wait.  “Go back ta sleep, Angus, darling.  Wait yer turn.”

He pouted, sitting in the corner of my mind and watching me with his sharp green eyes.  He was waiting for his moment to play hero.  Angus was biding his time until I finished his sister’s story.

So I gave him a scene in A Dutiful Shadow.  A scene he would rather I not mention, let alone share with the world.  Now, I believe he is rather cross with me.  “Be careful what ye wish for, Angus.”

As I finished A Dutiful Shadow and my mind was free to pursue other projects.  I heard Angus’ whisper against my ear.  “Aye, I’m with ye, darlin.  Now, tell me, what destiny lies before me.”

I burst into laughter, because I know he isn’t going to be happy with me.  My plans for him are much more intricate than he could ever imagine.  Am I going to give him a chance at love?  Aye.  Am I going to make it easy for him?  Hell no.  To quote Shakespeare, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

“Be careful, Angus.” I leave him with those cryptic words as I begin to outline his story.  The man has not only latched onto my subconscious, but he has infected the minds of other writers I know.  Can it be that Angus is more powerful than I had originally imagined?  He is my creation, a fevered delusion of my imagination.  Yet somehow, he is more, whispering to me, haunting me, even now.

My warning to you dear readers and fellow writers is to proceed with caution into your journey of words.  You never know when a secondary character will commandeer your plot.  A simple benign creation created for the sole purpose of progressing the story, might in fact ruin your plans with his own.

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((Photo credit. Found at A Writer’s Mind Blog))