Friday, September 29, 2006

Excuse me, my neophyte is showing.

I dedicate a portion of my day to professional development. This is when I seek out writer-to-writer articles, blogs, etc. This is a throwback to my days as a research assistant. I want to learn my craft and I know I have a lot to learn. When I go to bed, I want to have learned something new or in at least one way improved during the day.

Sometimes, I find tidbits of information and make me raise an eyebrow. I've been a long-standing proponent of: Tradition isn't necessarily the best way to do something. It is, merely, the way something has always been done.

I've also always bought into the idea of (please allow me to quote one of my old history professors) "You can be a PhD and a SOB at the same time." Thus experience does not equate to someone being correct.

In the wee hours of this morning I worked on my professional development instead of typing the synopsis for Full Circle. What? You're not accusing me of procrastinating, are you?

"While working on my craft," indignation dripped from her voice, "I discovered a few articles that made me raise an eyebrow."

Here's my disclaimer. These writers might be correct. I might be wrong. Far be it for me to question the words of seasoned, popular and experienced writers. I'm still going to question their words, but I know I shouldn't. (End disclaimer)
This article states:

One of the many virtues of the romance genre is the certainty of a satisfying ending. All problems and difficulties will be resolved by the last page of the book; decency, determination, courage, and love will prevail. The romance novel allows us to feel vicariously in control of a positive outcome. In today's world, the guarantee of a happy ending is no small thing.

This article states:

But with it, we get the happy ending that is essential to a romance, paranormal or not. And even though providing that happy ending is often tricky for the author, it's our responsibility to find a way. If we don't, we're disappointing our readers.

That's it. I'm screwed.

No one told me that romance novels must have happy endings. The only thing that I promise my readers is a good story. A reader once told me, "I like your stories, because you surprise me. You might kill a character, break up the couple or allow the hero to fail. I don't know what to expect with you."

I didn't know that in the world of romance writing all stories had to have a happy ending. What if a happy ending doesn’t fit the story? What is a happy ending anyway? Could someone define that for me?

If a happy ending means every piece of conflict is solved in favor for the hero and the couple stays together to ride off into the sunset. Then, I need to hang up my keyboard now. Sometimes my heroes fail. Sometimes my couples don't stay together or fail to get together. I have one story where I don't think the reader is going to want them to stay together. No, no, I'm not glorifying domestic violence or anything, but it's not a healthy relationship. Or is it?

In Tainted Past, the relationship is normal, healthy, and supportive. The kind of thing we all want and warms our hearts. The triad of men is cute, funny and they do honestly and openly care for each other. Isn't that just so freaking sweet it rots your teeth? Well, I'm writing this so we know there must be more.

The problem is that it's built upon a lie and the person lying doesn't know he's lying. Is the "guaranteed" happy ending the triad staying together even with it being twisted or is the happy ending the deceiver finding out his true nature and leaving everyone heartbroken? If he finds out what happened to him, it's ass-whooping time not hugs and kisses time.

Also, why do we have to promise happy endings? Why does everything have to work out in the end? Why can't the hero fail?

Who fell down on the job and let our hands get tied like this? I've not been writing that long, I know it's not my fault.

Needless to say, at this point, I was getting pretty nervous about my writing career. There's nothing wrong with happy endings per se, but the concept of guaranteeing one is terribly limiting. Could it be that these writers don't write my most recent genre of romance?

With renewed hope that I wasn't screwed, I looked for and found an article about vampires.
This article state:

The main thing to remember in writing about a vampire hero is that he must be sympathetic and romantic. Dark and tortured by what he is, separated from the rest of humanity by a secret he cannot share, he still yearns for love. He craves that one woman who can see past the monster to the man inside.

Aw, crap.

My vampires in Full Circle break that mold. Yes, they're sympathetic, romantic ( Shush, Tami! They're romantic in their own way.) and sexy. Some are "dark and tortured" and some aren't. The rest of that…well…I'm screwed.

At this point my stubbornness kicked in and I came to a conclusion. I'm going to write my stories the way they want to be written. I'm not going to hammer in a sex scene if it doesn't fit. I'm not going to force a happy ending if it doesn't serve the story. I'm going to use double negatives if I think it makes my point better. (snicker)

I'm not alone. Nearly all the writers I've met break these molds in some way shape or form.

Come, my convention rejecting friends, let us be screwed together.

Today's "Word of the Post" comes from The Phrontistery again.

agraphia -- inability to write

Minutes become hours. The cursor blinked at her teasing her with hidden promises and taunted her by constantly showing her void of productivity.




No words found their way onto the screen. Thoughts slipped through her mental fingers the moment she noticed them. She feared that she'd become

Sorry, writer's block. That's all I have. Agraphia strikes again.



MissWrite said...

Well, here's the answer to your little dilema as I see it my dear, Cup.

Those articles you clipped (the ones about romance, not going there with the vampire one right now) are RIGHT.


Yes, that's what I said.

for the very most part, (some exceptions can be made, but it's tricky) a 'true' romance MUST have a HAE.

What YOU write is not romance.


What again you say?

But there's love...

There's relationships...

It IS romance! You demand.

yes, there are all of the above in your stories. Your works 'contain' romance, but are not 'romances'.

You, as I see it, are a mainstream author of (depending on the particular story) fantasy, paranormal, thriller, or contemporary erotica. All of these genres can contain romance in their story lines... that does not make them 'romances'.


For me:

Big Money--NOT a romance. Relationships--yes, love--yes, but that's not exactly what the story revolves around, and it's not a HAE.

Paradise--ROMANCE... HAE and all.

Dark Side-NOT a romance. (same as big money except not the same storyline).

So you see, you can have stories that have romantic qualities that are NOT romances.

As for the Vampire quote... oh please... when you meet someone who's ACTUALLY met a vampire... THEN you can quote what a vampire is SUPPOSED to be.ROTF.

IM Cupnjava said...

See, I KNEW I was missing something. I've always looked at myself as a "smut writer", "erotica writer", "romantic erotica writer" and not really considered myself just a "writer" writer.

For "true" romance, these articles might very well be correct. I would say they are correct, but apparently I'm still figuring out what "romance" is.

When I look at my stories I think of them in terms of who is doing what not what is going on. I watch them unfold and then I think about what it all means at the end. That might be why I keep thinking of them as "romance" stories. They're stories about people who are in relationships.

These stories are much more than that. The stories you've written (that I've read) are much more than that too.

I think I'm getting this. Maybe. I reserve the right to be confused about this later.

And the vamp thing -- so very true. LOL! When I meet one, I'll be sure to report on it. Who knows, I might even interview that vampire.

Ok, yes, you may smack me. That was a lame joke.

MissWrite said...

I think you're catching on well here.

LOTS of stories have relationships, and even romance in them.

Jose has just written a good one... a thriller, but their is a relationship built in it... and they do actually end up HAE... so, what you say? You mean that's still not a romance?


It's a thriller, with a nice little romantic twist in it.

I wrote a little article to a question about what the difference is between 'romantica and erotica'... I'll go get it and post it here, if you don't mind.

Maybe it will help to clarify it a bit for you in YOUR particular area as well.

It was called:

Even Erotica Has Its Fuzzy Grays:

It was an early September post.

This is what it said:

Many writers moan about the shady lines between genres, and how its sometimes hard to distinguish between them. But if you really get down to it, it isn't all that difficult. You just have to find the central theme, and that's what the main genre is. The problem often times is the fact that so many novels now are written with attached subgenres. I'm not complaining, I like it, but it does make things a little harder to seperate.

While on a message board the other day, I came across a group of ladies trying to make yet another important distinction, and not being able to come up with any answers.

What is the difference between Romantica, and Erotica?

It's a question I've been asked before, so I gave these ladies my take on the subject as already formed by those previous inqueries:

Romantica is erotica with all the elements of a romance story as its core. Sounds simple, right? You're all going 'pshaw, I could have told you that, so what's the difference between that and erotica?'

Well, think of it as the difference between romance, and say to use any example, a horror story. Horror stories certainly may have relationships in them. They may have serious love issues in them, but their main story line is the horror aspect, not the romance. Same thing with erotica and romantica.

Erotica may, and considering it's nature often does have relationship issues in it, but that isn't really the main core of the story. Something else, be it suspense, horror, whatever, is the main pulse of the story that also includes lots of sex.

In romantica, the main focus of the story is the romance... with lots of sex. There may be other elements in it, as most writing now days has sub-genres attached to it, but those elements do not fuel the main plot of the story, the relationship does... so it's a romance novel, with no closed doors.

And that's it in a nutshell. The same way you decide with non-erotic genres is the way you can figure it out in erotic genres.

IM Cupnjava said...

I remember reading that when you wrote it. I read it with a new set of eyes now. When I write a sex scene, I don't close the door or fade to black. I thought that meant my stories, no matter what else was in them, would be labeled erotica. Period. I write about two or more men in a sexual situation. To me, that meant in the eyes of publishers I wrote Gay Erotica. That's where my book would be listed. Call it done.





I see now that I need to familiarize myself with the different genres and what it means to be "thriller", "paranormal" , and the others.

MissWrite said...

Yes, well add to the fact that 'homoerotica' is just starting to open up in many publishers lists. So now it's a whole new ball game in the genre blur.

HOWEVER... homoerotica (although usually defined in and of itself by that name -- hence your confusion) is NOT a genre in and of itself. It's the 'tag' line of a genre.

Oh lordy, now you're really shaking right? Go get a cup of coffee and take a deep breath.

Homoerotica is no more a 'genre' than Eroitica in and of itself is.

BOTH of those words however have a common 'known' in them to the general public that has spilled over into publishing as an accepted term for a 'type' of writing.

GOOD erotica (okay, and yes, we who write it DO know there's a huge difference between a good erotic STORY, and just plain old smut for the helluv it) is not the genre, it only describes the 'open door' sex.

The genre would be the same as ANY other field of publishing.

Horror, thriller, spiritual, romance, women's fic, (in this case) gay fic, chick/hen, and old maid fic... LMAO, about the only 'genres' you WON'T find in erotica is, of course, Young Adult, and Children's. LOL

Romantica, really is a 'made up' genre too. I believe someone said Ellora's cave thought it up, and may even actually have an 'exclusive' on the word.

Romantica is actually -- an Erotica story that is, by genre--ROMANCE.

That's it.

Short. Simple. and as Sweet as I can make it.


IM Cupnjava said...

How about this. I'll write my stories and then try to figure out what to call them. I may be sending you e-mails. LOL!

MissWrite said...


Bernita said...

Tami's absolutely right.
There are discussions all the time, just saw one about historical romances and romantic historicals.
These classifications are general guides, no more, as much for the ease in cateloguing and shelving as anything.

kmfrontain said...

Great post, Cup. Not all stories have to have the HAE, though they can have romance in them. Personally, I love romance "in" a novel, but it's not always my sole interest. Actually, it's usually not my sole interest. Write what you've got, Cup. If there's an HEA in there, it'll come out. If it's not right for the story to have a super pure HEA, then it's not right. And it's time to figure the perfect genre label for marketing purposes. ;-)

IM Cupnjava said...

You ladies are so helpful. Thank you for all the input.

Southern Writer said...

I'm glad I picked this post to hide this message in! I SO agree with you. You wouldn't believe I had an agent turn down my ms not long ago because a main character dies in the end - even though it's a happy ending.

Anyway ... I hope this pops up in your mailbox because I'm trying to hide this message where S.W. Vaughn won't see it.

If you'd like to participate in a birthday SURPRISE for her, please send a short message and a picture of you, if possible. Avatars are acceptable if absolutely necessary.

And please don't let her find out!
The address to send them to is
redheartnovels at lesiavalentine dot cum uh, com.