Character Development

My intern, Kuro, wrote an amazing post about character development. For me, characters make the story. I think, or hope, most writers feel the same way. So creating three dimensional characters is important. Here she is to explain more.

KURO:

I’ve prepared this basic questionnaire in order to assist people of all writing levels with character development. Although there is usually more to it, this form can prove to be quite useful when creating an outline of your character.

Basic Information

Name:

(I like having a name with meaning, and not an obvious one either. For example: Adlai. This is a name of a character in one of my older stories. It is of Hebrew origin, and it means “Justice of God”. Of course, you may have to do some research beforehand, but that’s alright. Take your time.)

Zodiac Sign (optional):

(A zodiac sign gives the reader a notion of the character’s birthday without the author having to worry about choosing a precise date. Although I don’t usually do this, I’ve noticed that many writers fancy choosing a zodiac sign.)

Age:

Gender: 

(You can be more creative than you think with gender. Maybe they are a male that unintentionally gets confused for a female constantly? It’s fun to have ‘trap’ characters sometimes. It can add humor to the story when its needed.)

Family: 

(Talk about this persons parents, their siblings (if any), and their overall relationship with their family. I think that its better to describe it in good detail rather than just “its bad/good”, but it’s your choice. It may not even be necessary depending on the plot of your story anyway.)

 

Mentality

Educational background:

(What kind of school they went to and how this experience was for them? If your character has a rather impressive IQ, it would be a good time to mention that here.)

Personality:

(The personality of a character is my personal favorite part of the character development process. You’d think that there aren’t many different traits you could build this character with, but that’s where creativity comes in. It’s best to make a character with little clichés.  )

Here are a few general traits that are usually worth explaining (optional, but at least do two):

Are they (a/an)…

Sensitive or analytical (do they make decisions based mostly on emotions or on logic)?

If a reason why exists, explain it:

Cautious or daring? If a reason why exists, explain it:

 

Optimist, pessimist, realist, maybe other? If a reason why exists, explain it:

Extrovert or introvert? If a reason why exists, explain it: 

It gets even better…

Gifts/talents:

(Please be careful with this….catastrophes are born in this area. Give a character too much perks and they become severely unlikeable.)

Flaws:

(You should try to keep a good balance between the gifts and the shortcomings, but you must be careful here too. Compensating superhuman gifts with devilish flaws can become just as disastrous.)

Style of speech:

(This may not seem too important, but it actually reflects the personality, the educational level, the social status, etc. of the character. Do they speak clearly, or have a stutter? Do they tend to be profane, or prefer to be formal? What is there tone of voice?)

Life philosophy (optional):

(You can pick a quote for this if you want to.)

Religious stance:

(If relevant, this also includes the character’s relationship with other belief systems.)

Biggest vulnerability: 

(Be careful with this one.)

 

Relationships

View on relationships:

(Try to give an explanation for these views, if possible. Take your time.

There are people who adore solitude and think of relationships as prisons, and sometimes there are extremely dependent people who always need someone by their side. There are all kinds of options here.)

Sexual orientation:

There is a whole spectrum between straight and gay, and I have characters in many of those spots. Knowing the difference between bi-curiousness, heteroflexibility and bisexuality – and knowing which characters are in each group – makes a huge difference when you’re writing about their sexualities. If not straight, is your character in the closet? If yes, why? If not, how did he/she come out?

Past relationships (optional):

(Optional…and awkward) How does he/she view sexual experiences?  What is the importance of sex for this character? This can range anywhere from waiting until marriage, to thinking it isn’t a big deal, to having a severe aversion towards everything about it:

Are they a social person? Explain:

 (Remember. There is such thing as “social introverts”, as well as “antisocial extroverts”. You must be somewhat familiar with the spectrum of different personalities before making a decision here.)

How important are friends to them?

Who are their most salient friends? Write a little bit about how they met, the things they went through, and what made them become so close.And if necessary, what tore their friendship apart:

(Note: “Salient”=most important/most noticeable.)

(Specify please. Which friends are most prominent? Perhaps the oldest, the closest, the one(s) who never left, maybe even the controversial friend that disappeared from your characters life, but remains missed regardless?)

Vocation *

This section is required if your character has a career.

Profession:

Past occupations:

(You don’t need to list an entire resume here, but it’s useful to know.)

Attitude towards current job: 

(Is it your character’s dream job? Are they working towards a bigger goal? Is he/she doing it because they have no choice/is it forced labor?)

(OPTIONAL) Attitude towards current co-workers and bosses:

(Optional. Apply if useful) Salary:

 

Secrets

I love this part.

What are their….

 Greatest phobias, and why? Explain:

Life goals/dreams. Explain: 

(If relevant) Compulsions/obsessions: 

(Can range anywhere from strange, to just plain disturbing.)

Secret skills: 

(Be cautious here.)

Do they want to change anything about their current life?

Do they want to change anything about their appearance?

Physical

Overall description:

(Please explain this as thoroughly as possible.)

Hair color and style: 

(You can use a reference here if you want too.)

Eye color/eye shape

Mannerisms:

(I can use myself as an example. I twirl my hair…a lot. If you find it relevant, go ahead and explain how the character feels about their habits.)

Style:

(Our clothing sometimes reflects who people are more than they realize.)

 

Athletic? Average? Dangerously thin? Explain if necessary:

 

Extra details (everything here is optional)

Daily routine:

Night owl or early bird?

Light or heavy sleeper? Sleepwalking and insomnia can be added here:

 

(Tip: Try to be as general as possible in the next few questions. For example, unless your character has a particular taste for a specific flavor of Sushi, you’ll be just fine with saying “Sushi” or “Japanese cuisine”.)

Favorite cuisine/food:

Smoker/drinker/drug user? (College experimenting counts): _

OOC trait: Everyone has an out-of-character trait. What is your characters? Explain if necessary:

***Special thanks to Kuro for providing this. She definitely gave me a few things to think about, and hopefully you found it useful as well. Anything else you want to add? Leave in the comments below! 🙂

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Catching Up by Cheating

Wow. It’s been too long since I posted.

In my defense, it was a pretty hellish Christmas break. I know this is kinda cheating but I have actually been blogging. Once a week I contribute to Nights of Passion. Well, contribute is a strong word. That would imply I add some value. Mostly I just fill up space. Anyway, to read about my crazy but successful winter break — and I define successful as not murdering my children — you click here.

Just before that, I won my first MargaRITA award with my local RWA group! Actually, I won 3! Most of which I’m embarrassed about. To read more about that, click here. (I’m so lazy)

Lately, I’ve been hibernating deep in my warm (but messy) writing cave, working hard on Kept and my New Adult coming soon, Boy Meets Nerd (more details to come).

In branching out into the New Adult world, I’m going to be revamping my website (again), and rebranding Leia Shaw to include contemp humor. What do you think? Can I pull it off? I’m excited for this new genre and adventure. I’m also trying my hand at writing first person, which is an adjustment. You can read more about that here. It’s a good change of pace. I hope you guys love the new voice and changes coming up soon! But as always, you can still expect quality writing, snark, and sexiness 🙂

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How was your winter break? What are you looking forward to most this New Year?

To the Bat Cave!

Ironically, the place I’ve needed to be the last couple of weeks is in my bat cave (i.e. writing cave), but I only just got one of those this weekend. My writer cave has been the local cafe for the past several months because, though I have a laptop and technically can work anywhere, curled up on the couch under a blanket is surprisingly not productive (in case you’ve never done it, it often leads to long leisurely naps – especially when one has the luxury of staying in pajamas all day). So you can see why a bat cave was essential for my career.

So this weekend, hubby and I cleaned out a room, took a trip to Ikea, and made me a bat cave!

Since I’m a completely unorganized mess (which makes me interesting, right?), plus I have nothing better to write about, I thought I’d share my new bat cave with you.

With each picture, you will see evidence of productivity and inspiration. Well, it may not be obvious to you, but I’ll be sure to point it out.

So here is my desk. In a moment, we’ll take a look a closer look at its contents so you can see how a disorganized bat cave is formed. But first, take special notice of the color scheme. It’s hard to tell in the photo but the desk is actually quite purple. I initially picked out a very sophisticated dark serious-looking desk that I figured would inspire me to buckle down and be all serious-like. Then I grabbed some hot pink accents to give it some personality. But near the check-out, we saw the scratch and dent section and found this purple sucker for only $50. And because I’m cheap and lazy, I took that one instead and didn’t go back to change my accent colors. Therefore, I’m left with a hot pink and pale purple office. I’m thinking about painting the walls lime green and just going all out with it. What do you think?

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Clue #1 that I’m a productive writer.

office5I have a white board! That alone tells you something, right? Even better is my super helpful To Do list. It’s both practical and inspiring! (In case you can’t see what it says… 1. Write 2. Avoid facebook 3. See #1) Speaking of inspiring, check out the pictures of my kids! Usually they’re productivity leeches, but since the money I make from writing goes to vacations, activities, and my daughter’s private school, I often need reminders of why I put myself through this torture again and again.

Clue #2

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I have books! Therefore I’m a writer.

Clue #3

office1The computer is my tool. Coffee is my oxygen. The poster of my book cover is because I have nowhere else to put it.

Clue #4

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See that hangy thing right there? That’s my name badge from RT last year. I had soooo much fun and met some truly amazing people. So I hung that right there where I can see it from my desk to remind me of anther reason I do my job. To bring my awesome fans great books.

And there you have it. My disorganized, pink and purple, super inspirational bat cave. What’s your space look like? Do you have things in your work space (whatever work that might be) that inspire you to keep going? I’d love to hear from you!

Perfectionist or Garfield? Which one are you?

***Originally post on Nights of Passion***

Since I usually write my Tuesday posts last minute, today you’re stuck with a rant based on my mood Monday night, which was when I wrote this, which was last night, and now it’s Tuesday, wherever you are, reading this. Yeah. Weird. Hey, I’m like me from the past, talking to the future you. Whoa. *enter Twilight Zone music*

It’s late people. You get what you get.

Anyway. I started two new books recently. Up until now, getting into a new project was fun and exciting and challenging but not so challenging that I was literally gnawing my own arm off starting at my fingernails. It was the kind of challenge that made you wanna throw on a gray jogging suit and do a little Rocky Balboa dance to Eye of the Tiger. You’re singing that song now, aren’t you?

So there I was, jogging suit freshly washed, ipod cued up, then…something changed.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown as an author, or maybe it’s the pressure of putting out quality work faster, or maybe it’s because I added more fiber to my diet. I don’t know. The point is, something has changed and I don’t like it.

I’ve turned into a perfectionist. Some of you are obliviously nodding your heads to this statement as if it’s no big deal. Well, let me tell you something. It’s a big fucking deal!

I am far too lazy to be a perfectionist. But I’m not the kind of lazy that wants to be less lazy and only needs a pep talk and a caffeine pill addiction. I’m the kind of lazy that is perfectly happy being lazy. I’m like Garfield. I don’t want to be less lazy. I like the way I am. Fat, in a lasagna coma, making sarcastic comments about everything that happens in my silly little world.

Perfectionists are obsessive compulsive control freaks (no offense to obsessive compulsive control freaks). They were the ones that always made me look bad in school. It would’ve been a lot easier on the rest of us if everyone was just average. Even better, if everyone was a slacker. But thanks to the overachievers out there, average is much…averager.

So distressed was I about this cluster fuck, that I complained to a writer friend. Our conversation when something like this:

Friend: Remember back when you were gently guiding me in the ways of successful authoring?

Leia: Huh? I did that? Oh. Right. Ahem. Yes, I remember.

Friend: You told me to write in layers.

Leia: Yes, that’s very good advice. Go me.

Friend: And now that the pupil has surpassed the teacher, and sits here pathetically begging for scraps of advice…

Leia: Ungrateful bitch.

Friend: …I’m going to tell you the same thing. Don’t get hung up on every word being perfect. Write the story in layers. The first is the foundation, the plot and bare bones of the story. Second, is character development, and subplots. That’s the meat of the book. Third is perfecting the wording and adding description. See? You don’t have to do it all at once. Layers.

Leia: Hmm. *stares at mansuscript* Fuck layers!

Sadly, the conversation went downhill from there. But you see my point, right? Fuck layers.

Sometimes the writing method that served you well for years just ups and leaves. Probably vacationing in Hawaii with that bitch muse that deserted you over the summer!

Sometimes, advice you give turns out to be shit and you don’t have the energy to go back and tell everyone you gave it to that you don’t really know what the fuck you’re talking about and why does everyone listen to you anyway? You’re Garfield! Can’t they tell?

And sometimes, things just change. It’s not fair. You can bitch and moan and stomp around – which, believe me, I did – or you can go with it. In the end, you kinda have to anyway. Life is like that. It likes to screw us over once in a while just to keep us on our toes.

This post is mostly for me, if you can’t tell. My own messed up, public form of therapy to soothe my panicking inner writer. There there, little inner writer. Everything will be okay.

Anyway, writers…has your process made a dramatic change over time? Has anyone else done a 180 on something that seemed totally out of character? If so, how did you deal with it?

More importantly, which is better? Lasagna, parfait, or cake?

Slapstick and Sarcasm – what’s your favorite kind of humor?

I wouldn’t call myself a comedy writer, but humor plays a big role
in my books. In my life, actually. As a parent of a child with special needs, I often tell people if I wasn’t able to laugh at myself, and sometimes our situation, I’d have slit my wrists a long time ago. Ha ha, just kidding. A little dark humor for ya’. But for me, laughter is that important. It’s even got a healing quality to it. Having a good laugh releases endorphins that give us a bit of a high. Like a natural upper. Many times when I’m feeling down, I’ll say to my husband, “I need a good laugh, do something funny.” To which he blankly stares. Then I roll my eyes and call my best friend.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, I think for the upcoming generation of readers, humor is essential – even if you write deep, dark, and serious material. We live in an ADD society. The audience for long, flowery narration like Jane Eyre is, for the most part, dwindling. And new readers are picky. If they hit a dull spot, they put down the book. And if they put it down, it’s very hard to get them to pick it back up. This generation moves fast and they want their books to also.

Again, where does writing humor fit into this? Well, one of the things I try to do is, when I have to inundate a reader with a long description or a backstory, I make it funny. That way it entertains the reader as well as giving necessary information without hitting a lull.

Now I’m no expert, and admittedly I didn’t do much (or any) research before writing this post, but in my mind there are several types of humor. Some you’ll be great at, some not. In my opinion, it’s better to use what you got than try to be good at everything. Maybe you already know what suits you best or what comes most naturally to you – if so, awesome and run with it. If not, I’ve listed the types (which I just made up) below along with an example of each. Take a look at what you find most funny then experiment with how to add more of it in your writing.

And I apologize that all the examples of humor are from my books. Number one, it’s my own material so I don’t have to worry about copyright infringement. And number two, I’m lazy.

Dry humor:

Marcelo knew from experience, human women did not like being ordered around by men. His queen had taught him that when she’d tried to kill him only a few months ago. And all because he’d forced her to drink blood and steal the throne from her twisted father. Women were so temperamental.

Sarcasm:

“Your ego is legendary. It’s like its own entity. No, really. We should name it.”

Dark humor:

“We’re not so different, you and I. You believe your loose morals dictate the right people to kill. I don’t.” With the knife, he cut straight through her shirt. “That’s the only difference between the hunter and the hunted.”

She rolled her eyes. “Is this how you’re going to torture me? Spewing philosophical bullshit? I prefer the knife.”

Silly humor:

“So? You made a good choice for once in your life,” James said. “Good on ya’. What do you want? A cookie?”

Maddox grunted. “She wants an apology, dumbass.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Now I want two apologies.” Folding her arms across her chest she added, “And a cookie.”

Visual humor:

When he crouched down into a fighter’s stance, he looked like a sexy tiger ready to pounce. When Sage did it, she looked like she was sitting sideways on an invisible toilet.

Banter:

“You’re a bossy little thing.”
“Me bossy? Ha! That’s funny coming from you.”
“Down here there’s a name for a creature that taunts a bigger one.”
“What’s that?”
“Dead.”

Pop Culture humor:

“Thanks for that, boy genius. Where’d you graduate from? Hogwarts School for the Mentally Unbalanced?”

Irony:

It had only been six days since she’d frozen in fear when the werewolves had attacked her and Marcelo. What a long way she’d come since then. Now…now she would have faced them with courage instead of cowering behind a man. Her head would be held high, bow in hand, strength down to her feet rooted on the ground. Yes, she was fae. She would never run and hide again.

Just then a giant snarling ball of muscle, fur, and teeth lunged at her from the trees. Oh, the irony.

Physical humor:

The next stall over is decent but cramped. It’ll have to do. I lift my dress and begin the process of liberating my curves from the torture device called Spanx. I grab the waistband and yank. And yank and yank. Down, down my body. At my hips, I reach some resistance. I wriggle them back and forth but the stall is so narrow I knock into the walls. I widen my stance, hovering above the toilet. Balancing on my too small heels proves challenging. I grunt and curse under my breath. Sweat drips down my nose. But I am going to get these damn things off if it’s the last thing I do.

Taking a more aggressive approach, I shove my hands under the waistband around my hips and pull down as hard as I can. Then I hear a loud rip and freeze. I look down. The lacy red underwear Nick got me is torn through at the side.

“Shit!” I hiss. “Shit, shit, shit.”

The sound of a throat clearing comes from the stall next to me. Double shit! Someone walked in between my grunts and thumping about? It probably sounds like I’m giving birth in here.

Witty humor:

Uhh…I don’t really specialize in this. I mainly use low brow and crass.

So. What’s your favorite type of humor to read and to write? Do you have examples you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and we can all laugh at you…er, with you

Mental Health Issues in Fictional Characters

I wanted to bring up this topic since it seems to be a bit on the controversial side. The heroine in my second book, Destiny United, suffers from an anxiety disorder that gives her frequent panic attacks.

I eavesdropped on a conversation between a writer friend and an agent at a writer’s conference about this very topic. This writer’s story was a historical romance novel about a man just home from war who suffers from PTSD. The agent told her that publishers don’t want stories about people with “issues”. Because women read romance for escape, they aren’t interested in reading about heavy themes like PTSD.

Although the advice didn’t change much about my choice in creating an anxiety disorder in Erin, I did keep it in mind while writing.

First some background. Both heroines in my first two books were raised in foster care. The reason I chose this route is because: a) I wanted my heroines to have obstacles to overcome, b) having been a foster parent and adopting two children from foster care, it is a passion of mine, and c) I needed mysterious pasts to go with the storyline.

I have a son with special needs and multiple close family members who have mental health challenges. This is a topic very dear to my heart.

That being said, romance readers do not want to read about characters with heavy issues, according to this agent. I haven’t actually polled people on this so I can’t confirm it as a fact, but I’m guessing she’s right to some extent. This is her career after all.

Though anxiety disorders, or any disability/mental health condition, is not a light matter, I had to keep it light in my book. Again, giving readers a sense of realism along with the escapism they crave. If you didn’t already know, it’s a tough balance. So, yes, Erin has panic attacks. She depends on boyfriends to get through her daily life. She can’t go to mall, restaurant, or movie theater without self-medicating. It is relevant to the story but really only an active part for the first third.

Marcelo, being the hero, forces her away from her sheltered, fear-trapped life and coaches her through her anxiety so she can live again. Here’s an exchange from the end of the book where she explains it nicely:

“You’ve come a long way from the scared little girl I met in Albany. I only had to drag you kicking and screaming from your safe little world to get here.”

“No,” she snorted. “You took my safe little world, tore it up, stomped on it then burned it to ashes.”

He shrugged and stalked towards her. “I challenged you.”

“You taunted me.”

“I pushed you.”

Beyond what I thought I could handle. You thrust my fears in front of my face where I couldn’t ignore them. You forced me to take a good, hard look at what was holding me prisoner and decide if I wanted to die there alone.

Erin’s particular disorder was a result of trauma endured as a teenager, not a chemical imbalance. It came from fear and there are different degrees of fear. Her fears were encouraged by purposefully sheltering herself where she thought she was safe and secure. It involved staying in a static state where she was rarely challenged to grow as a person.

She was “healed” not because mental illnesses are easy to “get over”, but because it stemmed from a place that could change. Brain chemistry, as an adult, can not change without the help of medication. But conscious fear can.

Did Erin’s “healing” happen much more quickly than it would in real life? Well, yeah. I have to keep the story moving and give readers a HEA. Is healing as easy as someone telling funny jokes and concentrating on breathing? Of course not. Is there such thing as vampires, fae, werewolves, and witches?

You see where I’m going with this?

It’s fiction. I strive for my books to mimic real life themes; trust, forgiveness, love, while also giving you a sexy hero who only cares about your pleasure in bed and says romantic things your husband would never think of.

Isn’t that the point?

What I look for in a book (of any genre) is 1) entertainment, 2) humor, 3) depth and emotional connection

What about you? Does a character with “issues” ruin a book for you? Are there any books that deal with mental health challenges or disabilities well in your opinion? What are the 3 things you look for in a good book?

Characters: Love ’em or Hate ’em

A couple months ago I went to a local RWA writers conference and met the talented Kristan Higgins. She taught a workshop about characterization. I wish I kept the notes because it was not only very informative, but like most things she does…freakin’ funny.

So I wanted to talk about characters and get some feedback from readers. I am very passionate about characters. They’re what make the book. The plot is secondary, the humor is secondary, and yes ladies, even the sex is secondary. Because what’s the point if you’re not connected to, or at least entertained by the characters? Whether it’s someone you want to root for, one you love, or one you love to hate.

But I strongly believe characters should be flawed. I like my characters to be as close to real as possible – minus all the fantasy elements (since I write paranormal) and the fact that they are all abnormally gorgeous (cause you want some amount of escapism, right?). But in other ways, they should feel very real. That means multi-dimensional.

Let’s talk about contradictions. I think everyone is a contradiction in some ways. For instance, I consider myself feminine though I hate make-up and prefer guy movies. My husband is considered shy but among close friends and family he can be very chatty. I’m spontaneous but I use a calendar. Can you think of a few? Again, the reason for this is because humans are multi-dimensional.

We also change. Sometimes through the course of a decade, sometimes a year, sometimes only a matter of days or weeks. Because of the nature of my books (and being a fantasy writer) my characters sometimes change quickly because of extenuating circumstance they are often forced into. Isn’t that true in real life? Has anyone had a life or death situation that changed them forever? I went rock climbing once and almost died and it shook my world. I wised up fast about safety and adventure. I also learned exactly what I was made of. I can think of a hundred examples of this.

Now let’s talk about conflict. How important is conflict in a book? Well, I’ll let you answer in the comments but to me it is vital. Wouldn’t it be a dull book if the characters made perfect decisions in every situation? Or never made mistakes, never made a hurtful comment to someone they loved? Not only is that unrealistic, but it’s pretty boring too.

I write a lot of conflict for my characters. Maybe I torture them a little (Lol!). There’s one scene in my newest book where Marcelo calls the heroine, Erin, out on a character flaw of hers. She gets pissed, she gets sad, and she does something a little spiteful in the heat of the moment. Being hurt by someone we love (or at least respect) is a powerful thing. It makes us do and say stupid things because we are in such pain.

I believe characters should make mistakes – sometime big ones. Why shouldn’t they have to deal with pride, forgiveness, guilty, etc? We all do.

And I like intensity. I just do. I’m dramatic, passionate, and emotional. It’s what I write and I’ll never apologize for it. Anyone read the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning? Talk about intensity and conflict, right? Mac and Barrons hated each other up until the very end of the very last book. But I LOVED every minute of it. It kept me wondering…what are they going to say/do next? When will they admit their feelings? It drew me right in. It was powerful, emotional, made me stop and think, and sometimes I hated the characters, other times I thought they were the shit. I had felt so many things throughout that series I was almost exhausted from it.

If there are negative things about my characters, I certainly hope there are an equal number (or more) of redeeming qualities. Sage, from my first book, is rough around the edges. She’s sarcastic and can be mean and cold. But she’s smart. She’s a survivor. And she’s loyal once she trusts someone, it just takes her a while to get to that point. Erin, from my second book, starts off very dependent because of an anxiety disorder. She goes through a massive transformation after being confronted with life or death situations. She may start off as a weak character but she’s also playful and witty and has a kind heart.

Bottom line: characters have weaknesses just like we all do. They are multi-dimensional, just like we all are.

So…those are a few things that are important to me in reading fiction and writing my books. What about you? What are your favorite parts about characters?

Some Like it Rough

If you’re a romance reader (like me!) you probably like this genre because;

1) the connection between the characters

2) the happily ever after

and

3) the steamy love scenes!

Or maybe you have your own reasons, but those are mine.

So, my question is…do you like it rough?

Okay, we’re talking fantasy here, not personal life. We don’t need to go there.

The majority of the books I read have very primal, wild sex scenes. It makes me wonder if the majority of women like this type of intimacy in their reading. Granted, I read a lot of paranormal, and the predatory, animalistic themes are very popular. And it makes sense for the characters. But I’ve read a good number of rough sex scenes in other sub-genres as well.

For me, rough sex doesn’t equal violence, or even dominance. It’s passion. The intensity of not only the shared lust, but the emotion behind it. And who doesn’t want to be wanted so bad that it turns a man into a beast? Who doesn’t think it’s sexy that a man could be so hot for you that he rips your clothes to shreds just to get at your body? Oh, yes. A beast it is.

A beast with a tender, gentle side, when it matters. But when it’s beyond mattering…

You know when it gets to that point, right? When the heroine says, to hell with it, gimme all you got. And she doesn’t care if there’s a pointy rock shoving into her back, or if there will be bruises on her arms from where he’s holding her pinned under him, or if her lips are raw from the harshness of his stubble. She can’t feel any of that anyway. And if she can, it turns her on. Cause it reminds her how bad this man wants her.

When it gets to that point, chests heaving, gazes locked, bodies tingly all over, growls echoing in the night, I say let the beast out of his cage.

Are you with me?

So what’s your favorite type of sex to read?

What Do You Want in a Romance Novel?

Balance.

I think this is one of the hardest parts for writers to conquer. Maintaining just the right balance of whatever ingredients make up their writing.

For fantasy/paranormal (or maybe just me), it’s action, humor, plot, character growth, relationship, and sex.

Phew!

It’s a lot.

My first two books contained a lot of action. Umm…that is, physical action – adventure, fighting deadly creatures with swords and fists and teeth.

For my 3rd book, it’s more relationship building and less adventure action.

As far as action between the sheets…well, since I try to make my characters as accurate as possible while still entertaining you, they usually don’t have a physical relationship (at least not more than kissing) until at least 1/3 of the way into the story.

But after that…it gets steamy quick!

So, romance readers…how much action (adventure kind and sexy kind) do you expect in a romance novel?

How much romance, how much sex, and how much of everything else?

If you could pick a ratio – like, say, 1/3 relationship building, 1/3 sex, 1/3 plot/action, as an example – what would your ideal ratio be?

Leave a comment below.