Friday, July 6, 2012
When Love Bites by Vanessa North, Author of Two in Winter
Today's blog is an article contributed by Vanessa North (TWO IN WINTER-see cover and purchase links below), about writing paranormal romance love scenes.
When I began writing about the Ushers, I had vague ideas about the world-building aspect of the series. I knew I wanted to set the scene in contemporary America, and I had this vision in my head about about a private school campus in western Massachusetts that had been taken over by wolves in the 1970s, and the Amazon Compound was born. My characters look and dress like humans, talk like humans (except the Guides, they’re a little stuffy sometimes) and for the most part live in a dictatorial society. But, world-building in paranormal romance ends up involving more than just setting and clothing and customs.
As my hero, Jack, says to his mate, Bianca, “We aren’t human, why would we mate as if we were?”
In other words, somehow, with my werewolves, I had to create a mating ritual, something sacred to the species that would bind the two wolves together in something like a marriage. Now how does a girl who blushes at sexy scenes in R-rated movies go about creating a mating ritual between werewolves?
Step one: Pour a glass of wine. No, a bigger one. Pick up a pen and start doodling. Realize the doodles are slightly pornographic. Blush. Burn them before spouse or children see them. Start typing on the computer, get distracted by Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter. See a photo of a man with a hairy chest, remember that werewolves are hairy and oh, yeah. Writing. Werewolf mating ritual. One last look at that hairy chest for inspiration. Okay. Pour another glass of wine. Start thinking logistics. Do they need to be in a particular sexual position? No, don’t want to restrict the sexy-times for future books, though has potential for more potent dirty talk. Write a few lines of dirty dialogue. Blush. Delete. Okay, scratch the sexual position theory. Ceremonial words? Again with the talk. Love scenes are about action! Write a few lines of action. Blush, but keep them. Now we’re getting somewhere, and the characters seem like they’re getting somewhere too, but how do we make it special, not cheesy, and still sexy? Back to Tumblr for more inspiration. Did you know Tumblr is like a cross between blogging, tweeting, and porn? See something on Tumblr that can’t be unseen. Oh. Blush. Exit browser and vow never to look at the internet again. Bleach brain.
Now. Where was I? Did I mention that my weres are feminists? Oh, dear. That lends a whole other dimension to this. What if the mating ritual is inherently tied to the male “claiming” the female, marking her in a way that other males will know she is his? How sort of barbaric and totally anti-feminist. Now, how do we get our alpha females to accept this? Well, they’ll have to do some claiming and marking of their own, won’t they?
Brain is now churning out all kinds of ideas and a mating ritual is being established.
Write it. Read it. Revise it.
Really, the most important thing is to remember that while the characters aren’t human, the readers are. They want a story that will resonate and feel authentic. So the sexy stuff needs to be that way too. If the characters are behaving—even in bed—in a way that is consistent with their goals, motivations, and conflict, the readers will understand and respond to that. Make the ritual serve the story, and it will all work out.