The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey catapulted the romance genre (especially erotica) into the spotlight. There were some who seemed surprised at the immense appeal. It's not a new phenomenon. Romance outsells all other genres combined.
The romance category is filled with much more than handcuffs and collars. In fact, that is a very small portion of what it offers readers. Whether it's a relationship developing on a sprawling ranch in the 1800's, another planet, in the bedroom of strangers or in the flux of danger, romance is about the human connection.
Romance readers are potentially every one of us.
Let me share something. I was sitting in a drive-thru just today and behind me I witnessed a couple who were in the middle of an argument. The woman passenger was very animated, her hands moving, her face looking flushed and upset. The man behind the wheel looked away, his lips hardly ever moving. At one point, he opened his mouth wide, blinked hard and seemed to draw in a deep breath.
Of course I couldn't hear anything that was being said, I could only see their faces. I'm sure anyone else who noticed them might feel for the man, but how do we know he doesn't always meet her with that stoic, dull reaction and she was just exasperated? She would drop her hands and gaze out the window with a faraway look in her eyes, as if she were seeing something otherworldly. Maybe she was. I don't know.
As a writer who writes about relationships that couple in the car meant more to me than pure public spectacle; it stayed with me even after I'd pulled away. We have all experienced love. The bridge that brings us together can just as quickly separate us. No one person has the ability to hurt us more than someone we've loved. I think, in that notion, lies the heart of the romance author. We pull the tiny threads from the web of human relations and sift them back together into a story.
It appeals to anyone. They may see themselves as they were, or as they want to be. Sex is a small part of our relationships. It only becomes bigger when all of the other pieces of the puzzle are placed on the board. A picture is formed, a portion of someone's life with another. It has an intensity that draws readers.
I am very glad to be a part of it. I lose myself in it when I write and it follows me even when I am far away from the desk.
So happy writing and happy reading, straight from the heart.
Avid readers are a priceless commodity for writers. I would like to share a recent conversation from some romance fans that I found particularly helpful.
The conversation turned to recent romance reads and the fact that so many of them have things in common, not all of them good. One reader pointed out that it shows a lack of originality and instead of making the book exciting, it makes the book fall flat. So, of course a writer will perk up when they hear that!
Here were some common things they found in recent romance books (some of these I've heard before and some I hadn't):
1. The women were having orgasms with no clitoral stimulation (a smoldering look won't cut it. It's not possible.)
2. The men would have an orgasm and immediately get hard again (where are these men and why haven't I met them?)
3. Every single woman is SO tight! (get to those pelvic exercises girls!)
4. The girl has never had an orgasm before, is a virgin or both (come on! this is 2017!)
5. All penises are HUGE (penises come in all shapes and sizes it's nature)
6. Women have no problems deep throating (with those huge dicks? this is not an easy thing to do, how are all these virgins pulling it off?)
7. The guy hates women, UNTIL he meets the deep throating virgin (he'll always hate women but congrats on the virgin!)
8. Women faint after sex. (I've never read that but the readers insisted they had I think it's funny! Oh my that was so good I passed out!)
9. Billionaires always meet women who don't care a thing about money, even though they have none (where all these women? My billionaire friends want to know, badly!)
10. No one ever farts in bed (I laughed so hard at this one I had to include it)
This was fun and I hope you got a laugh out of it and maybe some good information. I glean a lot of great information from readers groups and highly recommend that you join a readers group in your genre in your area (they are so much better in person). It will give you priceless information that a writer should always have: reader feedback!
When writing my novel, Losing Her, I decided the story should be told from the point of view of James Day. After all, it's about his life. Before I began, I realized I would have to approach that book quite differently. I would be speaking in the voice of a guy. My personal experiences and knowledge weren't going to help with the realism.
I've noticed in many romance novels that female writers will make their male characters (in first person POV) curse constantly and say really gruff things, along with grunts and spitting in order to prove themselves more 'male.' I've always found that to be disingenuous. I grew up a tomboy and was always more comfortable around guys. They certainly had a different way of looking at things, but they weren't all vulgar, rude assholes. I believe writing from the male POV takes some consideration, not just a change in dialogue. He can't only be a male when he's talking.
There were things I had to keep in mind for every scene and are general enough that I thought I would share them:
There are other considerations for your guy that might not have applied to mine (some men are more sensitive than others etc.). Example: Most guys don't know much about clothes, but James Day became interested in the role of clothes in attracting women in college, so he knows a bit about his own clothing and cologne. He is also a male escort so he cares how he dresses and wants to be pleasing to a woman's eye.
DIALOGUE: James dialogue wasn't going to be as specific or as detailed as the women in his life. His reactions were more physical and he struggled with putting his emotions into words. He was much more direct in what he chose to actually say. It was the reason I made his story first person. His thoughts and reactions were better indicators of what he was feeling than his words.
HIS SEX LIFE: When it came to sex I had to consider how he would react to touch. Like anything else, I did some research. You'd be surprised the information out there, when you ask guys about their penis, they are more than happy to talk about it on the worldwide web. You don't even have to ask, someone else already has! I read these two books as part of that research also:
Guide to Licking and Sucking - How to Impress Him with the Best Blowjob - Jean-Claude Carvill.
The Men's Health and Women's Health Big Book of Sex: Your Authoritative, Red-Hot Guide to the Sex of Your Dreams
HIS LIFE: I researched motorcycles, repairing them (a quite focused look for a particular scene), beer, physical therapy (he is a physical therapist), amputees and prosthetics (his job and his twin sister Jenna is a double amputee). How he kept his hair and what he wore (when he wasn't dressing for his clients, he liked jeans and shirts)
Don't let gender frighten you. When you're writing as a different gender I believe it's important to consider their experience of the world around them. Women are naturally more in tune with emotion and broad details. Men tend to be more logical, reactive and specific. Write your character out on several pieces of paper and start! Don't let it stop you from making the story as direct as it can be.
I write about: love, fantasy, hate, vampires, jealousy, lust, supernatural, murder, deceit, attraction. And sex.
I write what I like.