TALKING ABOUT WRITING ROMP
AND STOMP SCENCES
AND STOMP SCENCES
For a romance writer, I seem to write a lot of fight scenes. My characters tend to be rowdy. And writing a fight scene is a lot like writing a love scene. You have to keep anatomy and physical space in mind. You have to be careful with your terminology. Though, to be fair, I’ve never embarrassed by the thought of my mom reading one of my fight scenes.
And personally, I like to keep things funny. I describe my “fighting style” as slapstick violence, Three Stooges meets Bridget Jones. My characters often realize, mid-swing, how stupid it is for them to be fighting in an alleyway with a mugger and recognize that they are probably going to be seriously injured. There is honesty in that I think readers find appealing. And I try to use “props” surrounding the characters to keep the fight a big more believable. In one of my vampire books, the main character uses a realtor’s sign to stake the big bad guy.
By contrast, I try to leave props out of love scenes, because that can get a little weird. In general, love scenes are easier than fight scenes for writers. While a lot of people have never had a fistfight, most adult writers have had sex. Sometimes complete book ideas can come from an idea for a single love scene. For instance, my new book THE CARE AND FEEDING OF STRAY VAMPIRES came about because I had a daydream about nursing a vampirized version of Karl Urban back to health. But at the same time, I have a difficult time writing love scenes, because I know my relatives will be reading them, and I would really love to be able to make eye contact with Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner.
More than anything, I struggle with appropriate penis euphemisms. “Penis” is too clinical. “Weenie” is too juvenile. And the one time I used the word, “cock,” my editor wrote, “Hey, that word came out of nowhere!” in the margins of the manuscript. I usually use the word, “length” because it’s provocative without being vulgar. I figured, if Nora Roberts uses it, it’s probably classy enough for me.
And, like fight scenes, there is a progression of action to love scenes – a beginning, middle and end. Unless you’re intentionally planning a quickie, there should be a slow build-up of anticipation before the characters in either situation, well, “let loose the dogs of war.” I have used the controversial fade-to-black technique – ending a love scene as the lovers climb under the covers together, for instance - if I’ve already written a love scene or two in the book. I try to limit myself to three per book. Otherwise, it comes off as a little excessive. But I have had readers complain that they feel cheated by the fade to black, so I try to plan around it if I can.
I can’t say which I prefer – love scenes or fight scenes. While I love writing a good brawl, I know, as a reader, the love scenes are what I look for in a good romance book. I think if you’re going to make it in this market, you have to have a steady hand at both.
CHECKOUT THE STOMP CORNER: Amanda Bonilla
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
by Molly Harper
(Dead Moon Hollow #2)
BUY: Amazon - B&N
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.
Cal - who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way - offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him - particularly those concerning nudity.
Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.
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