External conflict is pretty easy to figure out. Obstacles to the goal, amiright? But, inner conflict? Now, that’s a whole different ballgame. And making your inner conflict somehow relate to your external conflict? Fuhgeddaboutit.
I’m running a one-week workshop with Savvy Authors, 15 July, to teach you everything you wanted to know about inner conflict. You can sign up here.
In this interactive workshop, you’ll find out:
Without inner conflict, you won’t have much of a compelling romance read. Most of the submissions I read have great external conflict but they don't plough the depths of why the characters respond the way they do - that’s inner conflict. And that’s what links into character arcs, and character development, and satisfying HEAs. The result is the dreaded rejection.
But you don’t have to be in the dark about inner conflict any longer. This workshop will ensure that you have a clear idea of what inner conflict is and how to use it.
What are you waiting for? Sign up today.
Sometimes, the most daunting words are ‘Chapter’ and ‘One’. And, then? What happens next? You’ve done your plotting and planning, and naff all comes to mind. Not a single word - nada, zip.
Or you’ve plotted so much that you feel that your voice is getting lost in the writing.
When the going gets tough, it’s time for the tough to get going*:
Other things to try:
*Do not censor what you write, just get in there and GO. You can always fix up and edit later. What we want here is actual words on the screen/notebook/chalkboard.
EL James’s latest, The Mister, landed and not surprisingly, is doing exceptionally well.
What’s this got to do with craft? Plenty.
To most writers, EL James’s work is everything you’re taught not to do. And yet, it still sells. The theory is that it’s a ‘great story.’ What does ‘good’ writing matter when it’s a ‘great story’?
First up, last time I checked, there is only one EL James. One writer making a shit ton of cash on horrible writing and a great story. Every other writer? They’re getting by (or not) on good writing AND a great story. BOTH.
The greatest story in the world manhandled by an amateur will turn out lukewarm at best. Will you get a publishing contract out of it? Probably, not. EL James is a combination of factors: a massive online following of her Twilight fanfic, the emergence of erotica as ‘en vogue’, and the trend for BDSM. Do you see ‘great story’ or ‘good writing’ in that combination? I don’t.
Where does that leave the thousands of writers out there who want to break into the writing market? Back with their tools, their craft. Writing up great stories, with fabulous writing that makes it difficult for publishers, agents, and readers to say ’no’.
There will always be the next EL James, one outlier soaring stratospherically at the right time, in the right space, when Jupiter aligned with Mars or the the prophesised one returned with her three dragons and Knight Friendzone. Would we love to be this person? Of course, we would.
But, in case it doesn’t, you can still have a career as a writer, by improving your craft to better tell great stories.
What is erotica? Is it different from erotic romance?
My first novel was listed under erotic romance. A mistake, surely? There was only one sex scene that didn’t go into too much detail. No, my publisher insisted, it’s erotic. She was wrong.
Erotic does not equal one sex scene. So, what does it mean?
Firstly, that anyone picking up said novel was horribly disappointed. I recently read a submission that promised FLAMES. I got to halfway and had yet to encounter anything more a damp squib. One sex scene. One that had been rudely interrupted. That was it. On the heat-o-meter that registered as a 1, a low heat, certainly not erotica.
Why would you do that to your reader? If they’re expecting heat, the book better deliver.
This rather points to attitudes about sex, rather than writing. (If you’re all a flutter about sex in a book, then there’ll be plenty books out there that won’t be for you, not only romance, just saying)
A romance doesn’t need to have a sex scene. It can be sweet. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to put on your big girl panties and leave that bedroom door open, know what’s expected from your reader.
Erotica is where the sexual journey of your character is depicted. This could mean that they discover their latent BDSM proclivities, question their sexuality, or embark on a torrid affair with the milkman that makes them realise they want something more in their life. Erotica does not have to have a HEA. My novel, Watched,is about a woman embracing her sexual self. Lots of people weren’t happy with the ending because it wasn’t the HEA they were expecting, but the novel wasn’t about the romance. It was about my character and her sexual exploration.
This doesn’t have to mean that there’s a sex scene every chapter, but if it’s about a character’s sexual journey, the focus will be on sex. A great example of this is Tiffany Reisz’s The Siren. It’s incredibly erotic but with only a few sex scenes. Erotica still engages with the character’s emotions as they undergo their journey – that’s what separates it from merely physically arousing material, or porn.
If your novel is sex scene after sex scene after sex scene with no emotional involvement, you’ve written porn.
Erotic romance is a little different. This is about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. These two didn’t mean to fall in love while they were doing their thang, but they did. The Warden’s Possessionhas Cait start a steamy romance with Duke in some seedy nightclub. No prizes for guessing what happens next as lurve takes over where lust laid the foundation.
HIGH HEAT LEVELS
Then there are books with high heat levels. Couples that are ‘romancing’ who get it on with the bedroom door open (that means graphic scenes with detail). If your book has one such scene, it’s a medium to low heat, depending on the amount of detail. If it has none, or the scenes fade to black, it’s sweet.
What you choose to write, is up to you. Just make sure it’s categorized correctly so as not to get yourself a one-star read from either a disappointed or irate reader (or both).
HEA ROMANCE WRITING
Everything you need to know to write your own happily ever after.