Sunday, September 20, 2009

Porn By Any Other Name... Or Where Does Your Book Fall on the Sinmeter?

Okay, this is my blog so I shall opine on the lovely judgemental people who insist any book with explicit sex is no more than "porn." This is really a way of saying what we do has no merit. It's also a bit of a personal attack on our moral character, which is funny, considering the real lives most of us lead. Hardly wild and crazy. Um, with a few noteable exceptions and yes, the rest of us are jealous, sort of, but quite content to live vicariously through you. ;-)

Now, some writers do not mind this "porn" descriptive. Some even take great pride in describing their own work as "smut," {love to you all), which is the next best thing to porn, though arguably a step down on the sinmeter. I don't like these terms because I see no reason to hand bullets to folks ready to shoot me down and it really isn't accurate.

Perhaps my location and life situation have something to do with this opinion. It's true, I do maintain a secret identity and I am aware of the need to keep this pen persona separate from my other pen personas and my real life. That's a shame, but there you go.

Just to clear up confusion and to make my case for the difference between porn and erotic romance, I've come up with some informal definitions of the various heat levels of romantic fiction. Entirely my own opinion and not representative of anyone or anything else.

Here goes:

Mainstream Romantic Fiction--This is a broad umbrella and can range from Sweet to borderline Erotic Romance. Sweet is self-explanatory. A traditional, committed romance between two main characters developing through the book's plot. No explicit love scenes, or strong language. Hot is the next step. There may be sex scenes with mild descriptors and language. The frequency and length of any love scenes will be greater, though the story will still focus on the developing love story of the two main characters in the context of the story plot. Next, Steamy. Steamy romance involves more frequent and explicit love scenes and language, though still within the context of the plot and the developing romantic relationship. Terms used will not be strictly frank, some euphemisms will be used, and the detail will not be entirely graphic.

Erotic Romance--An erotic romance will involve two or more characters in a romantic relationship with a happily ever after, or at least a happily for now. Euphemisms will be avoided and frank terms and descriptions will be employed. The number and length of sexual encounters within the context of the plot will be greater. You will note I did say "plot" and "romance." There will be a story here, whether it is simply a love story, or a love story combined with a plot involving futuristic soldiers fighting to save the world or whatever. And there must be romance. Emotions, people. Erotic romance is not about people having sex just for the sake of sex.

Erotica--Erotica is even more explicit and edgy, though the primary difference here is that the sexual encounters and the growth of the sexual relationships ARE the story. Erotica may or may not involve romance. Definitely no euphemisms here, but there will be an identifiable story arc and the characters will grow and change as a result of the developing sexual relationship.

Porn--Here we go! Porn is sex, plain and simple. There may be no story line, no arc of character development, no emotion. Just sex for the purpose of titillation.

So if we must label, let's try to get it right.

Happy Reading and Writing!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Five Ways to Finish Writing a Book (NOT!)

Okay. When it comes procrastination, distraction, and outright writer's block--I am THE QUEEN these days! I used to be speedy, writing a chapter a day was not unusual. So, what happened?

I decided to do what I do best: analyze the situation. First, I will state that I plan to leave real life or RL as writers like to call it, out of the equation. RL will always be there. RL can be very bad, but of course, the absence of RL is not a good thing either. So, we'll leave that out of things.

I've come up with the top five things I find put the kybosh on the timely completion of a book.

1. Sit down every day and repeatedly rewrite the first paragraph of your story. At some point, one must at least move on to paragraph two if one is ever to complete a 400 page novel. It's tough, I know, but at some point you just have to move on with the story even if it isn't perfect.

2. Continually change major plot points in the book. (This is after one has managed to move beyond paragraph one, natch). If you change a major plot point in a book, this has a domino effect, and you will condemn yourself to rewrites throughout the book to insure continuity of plot. I'm not saying not to make a change if necessary. But changing things 14 times will definitely slow your progress and is probably more indicative of a writer's fear of finishing a book, and their basic insecurity, than any real failing in said poor blameless plot point.

3. Fear finishing your book because, what if you finally finish it and it totally sucks? This is an easy one. Maybe your book will suck. Maybe it won't. But it won't matter either way if you never finish the darned thing.

4. Write 30 stories and get about 2/3 of the way through each and "get stuck." This is bad. You now have valuable inventory stuck on your hard drive that you cannot market because it is not complete. This is a business. We are in sales and we must MOVE THE FREIGHT or we will not make any money. Why does this happen? It can happen for any number of reasons. It could be flaws within the story, but if you've got 30 of them, it's probably an author issue. Shiny object syndrome is one aspect. "Oh, look! A new story idea!" We must finish what we start. By all means, make notes on new ideas, but don't dive in and immerse yourself in new characters and new worlds before finishing the old stories. I can tell you the result of this is that an author wastes valuable time each day trying to decide which story to work on and trying to remember what the characters, world, and story line are. Not the most efficient way to do business.

5. Manage writing time poorly. We all must spend some time promoting, networking, researching for stories, researching the market, publishers, agents, searching for reviews, etc. DO NOT let this suck up all your writing time. We must do these things. We like to do these things, but write FIRST.

So, get out there and finish the blasted book! ;-) *I am looking in the mirror as I say this, of course.*

What factors keep you from completing a book? If you never have difficulty with this, please share your secret! LOL

Happy Writing!