Thoughts on Love, Sex, Kink, and Gay Romance Novels

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Firemen, cowboys, and policemen, oh my!

I should also throw in soldiers, athletes and construction workers too.  If in a thousand years people (for some unfathomable reason) try to piece together our culture just from m/m romance novels, they’d probably assume that half the members of all these professions were gay, and that half the population held one of these jobs.

This is not by any means a complaint since I’m also drawn to those books like a hormonal moth to a testosterone-burning flame. But it has made me think about why we love to read and write about these particular men so much.

In some ways, I think this reflects the disparate societal progress in acceptance of gay men. When writing contemporary male/male novels some professions get an automatic narrative tension boost because we intuitively know that it is harder and more dangerous to be a gay man in those bastions of masculinity.

Harder and yet somehow more compelling as well. In these arenas with a much smaller percentage of women it seems somehow natural for us to imagine these men taking solace and comfort from one another. And if those relationships are more risky and dangerous then that just makes the triumph of true love that much sweeter.

Or maybe I’m overthinking things and these guys are just naturally hot. 😉

What about you? Do you have any professions or types of men you particularly love reading about?


Kinks Part 3: Role-Playing

I would love to see more romance/erotica include role-playing between the characters. And while I generally think of it in terms of kinky or bdsm play, it doesn’t have to be. Billionaire seduced by the pool boy could present a hot scenario for a couple working class men to play with, for example.

Top 5 reasons I love role-playing in erotica or romance:

  1. Adds variety and spice to the sex scenes
  2. Provides an interesting window into the characters. What do they fantasize about? If given the chance to be someone else for a while, who do they choose?
  3. Lets the characters out to play. There’s generally a bit of  silliness in creating a scenario and a complete suspension of disbelief and seeing how someone plays and lets go or doesn’t can show you a lot about who someone is and how they see themselves.
  4. Opportunity to play with sexy tropes without having to acknowledge and handle the realities of the actual situation which may be far darker or problematic. (e.g. Being kidnapped and turned into a sex slave for an ancient warlord can certainly work as a premise for a dark erotic novel. But with role-playing, you can play with the concept without dealing with the unpleasant realities if you want.)
  5. Just plain fun to write. No one expects their sex games to be historically accurate or contain completely reasonable actions, so you can let go and write what’s sexy without it having to be completely sensible. (e.g. A real doctor who gets over-interested in thoroughly examining a patient’s genitals is disturbing, but you’re playing at it…)

Obviously, this only works if the characters themselves would enjoy it, but I think it’s an underused tool that I’d love to see more of.

Any recommendations for books that do this well? Opinions on whether you like reading about people role-playing during sex?

Critique Group

After some people on the Goodreads m/m romance group expressed in a critique group focused on BDSM/kinky m/m books, I decided to start one. Goodreads has a great system for creating groups that can be made private, so I set up a group called M/M BDSM Authors Critique Group.

This is my first involvement with a critique group, so I’m pretty excited. Expect to hear more about this later, but I thought I’d share the information in case there are other budding authors in the genre who are interested in joining us.


Rough Draft- Now What?

I’m a couple big scenes away from finishing my first draft, and now my brain is whirring about trying to organize  things I need to do in the editing process. I’m calmer if I have a plan, so I’ve written out the next steps as I see them and thought I’d share in case they are helpful to anyone else. I’m hoping that some of these will become natural as I write more, but for now I feel like it’s helpful to me to be very explicit about everything- not just the sex 🙂

  • First Draft
  • Full read – Look for:
    • plot holes
    • inconsistencies
    • areas that need enhancement
    • secondary characters that need more or less time
    • identify themes
  • 2nd draft:
    • make changes identified in full read 1
    • update character list and general story notes as appropriate (I have a terrible memory for names and physical details, so I try to keep a list of these things in a separate document so I don’t accidentally change the color of someone’s eyes or their apartment number or something)
  • Create scene checklist and think about
    • level of tension and conflict- do they escalate appropriately?
    • does each scene drive story forward?
    • does each scene lead to more questions the reader will want answered?
    • is each scene intrinsically interesting and not just plot exposition?
    • does each scene have some elements of humor?
    • do the scenes support or undermine the theme
  • 3rd Draft: Fix any problems identified with scene checklist
  • 4th draft: Descriptions – This  revision set is based on a known personal weakness. I often feel barely cognizant of my real physical environment, and have been called ‘selectively oblivious’ to the world around me. And so describing physical details does not come nearly as naturally to me as emotions and dialogue. So, in this stage I will force myself to think about the physical details in each scene and make sure they are described sufficiently and interestingly. I’m actually looking forward to it as an interesting writing challenge. I found some very good advice here that I shall attempt to follow:
    • place descriptions
    • people descriptions
    • body language
    • add descriptions for both people and places to overview document to check for consistencies
  • 5th Draft: Language and voice
    • check for passive voice- I had a lot of misconceptions about this and found some very good references to help:
    • kill adverbs- this is going to be harder than avoiding the candy jar in my co-workers office, for similar reasons. I know they’re bad, especially in excess, but they’re just so easy to slip in there. My brain supplies adverbs effortlessly, more interesting words only more grudgingly. Two in one sentence and that wasn’t even on purpose. I did a quick search on my rough draft for the number of words that ended in ‘ly.’ More than 900. Ouch. This will take some work, but I’m sure the prose will be much better for it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on adverbs, and have come across some more balanced opinions that seem to provide good advice, that I’m going to try to follow:
    • search and destroy boring words and descriptors (things, stuff, etc.) Some good resources for identifying these:
    • look for forms of start and decide if they need to be there. This is a weird personal writing tic, that I’ve noticed. I’m not sure why I do it but I throw in forms of the word ‘start’ into sentences completely unnecessarily. A search revealed more that 100 occurrences of ‘start.’ I suspect most shouldn’t be there. For example, Bad: ‘Elizabeth got up and started pacing.’  Most of those words are wrong. Better: ‘Elizabeth stood and paced’. Even better, “Elizabeth wrenched her hands from Tim’s grasp, strode to the far corner of the room, turned and glared at the portrait on the wall, before crossing the room again. She repeated this five times before she spoke again. Tim counted.”  That was fun. Now I just need to do it to the rest of the book.
    • identify verbal and physical habits of main characters and check for consistency
    • Glasses check. (Specific to this story. One of my main characters has glasses and I sometimes forget they are there, which is relevant at times.)
  • Set aside for a couple weeks
  • Full read-through fresh as a reader, seeing if anything jumps out as wrong
    • make notes
    • fix any problems
  • Find beta readers
  • Write synopsis and blurb
  • Respond and make changes to beta feedback
  • Prepare submission to publisher

Luckily, I really enjoy the editing process or I might run screaming at this point. So any thoughts from others about what you do between first draft and letting someone else read it?