Cindy Holby mentioned something interesting the day I left Atlanta. She was talking about inspirational books and sexual tension, how she’s read manuscripts in which the hero and heroine part in an emotional scene with no more than a “See yah.”
Wouldn’t it be better, she surmised, to show their angst, their desire, to make it real and show them not giving in?
I agree. Just because a book can’t have sex in it doesn’t mean it should lack sexual tension. The desire two people feel for each other can be balanced with their strong belief in waiting until the ring’s on the finger. It’s great conflict and terrific sexual tension.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the erotic romance novels. Raelene, publisher of Ellora’s Cave, said at RWA that EC wants books that aren’t just “sex thrown in there.”
You can’t take a novel, slap some kinky sex and then call it an erotic romance. There has to be a purpose to the sex, a reason, not just written in to steam up the book.
In the end, it’s about the characters and their conflict. Sexual tension between two celibate characters in an inspirational is terrific conflict. (I WANNA, but I CAN’T). Same is true for an erotic romance. (I CAN AND I WILL but if I DO this bondage/submission/multiple partners thing, will I discover a part of me inside that I am afraid to face?)
BTW, I did hear from two sources a rumor that Harlequin’s Bombshell line is on hold and they’ve stopped buying books. If it isn’t true, someone please inform me and I’ll post a correction. I hate it when lines threaten to fold.
I’m glad I got to attend a workshop on Tips for Writing a Page Turn given by Rita Herron and Jennifer St. Giles. They mainly addressed conflict in writing romantic suspense. Stuff I already knew, but refreshing to hear it again. Some pointers:
Create the world that tortures your hero/heroine the most
Make sure secondary characters are there to create conflict with the h/h
Every three chapters put in a twist, a change, introduce a new suspect or plot problem
The greater the conflict, the greater the characters
Make your character have to change to succeed, or make changes to their world in order to succeed
From the first page, you should know what the character stands to lose, raise the stake through jeopardy
For the BBM (Big Black Moment) think of the worst catastrophe that can happen, and do it. (I loved this part, I adore torturing my characters, hee hee, yeah, I’m a meanie but then I give them lots of happiness and great sex, so there you go)