My Book Is A Turtle Metaphor (And So Is Yours)

I have writing anxiety. I’m afraid to fail.

It’s been a long-held beautiful dream of mine that is now almost within my grasp: a part-time ‘career’ of self-publishing erotic romance novels. It’s all in my literal, literary grasp (and time isn’t an issue thanks to being diagnosed with a chronic illness), and now I can’t.

I can’t write!

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5 Crucial Mistakes Erotic Romance Novels Make

Don’t make the same mistakes they did!

Stumped on my NaNoWriMo, and having a quiet week to rest, I decided to tear into my potential competition. I used to be an avid reader of free and cheap romance and erotic lit through Apple, Amazon, and online websites. I wondered if the market had changed. What are people writing? What sells? And are authors still lazily inserting themselves into history? (Unsurprisingly yes).

In fairness of judging accuracy, I should say I examined ten ‘average length’ books of a mix of contemporary, paranormal, and historical sub-genres. It’s a small sample size, but the mistakes recurred to the point where I could say this is what distinguishes a great book from a generic one. I feel it is important to say that all these books were rated no lower than four and a half-stars online, and were very popular. I’ve heard about paid reviews as a significant scandal, but it does make me wonder when I found some to be unworthy of that judgement. In the name of politeness, I won’t name names, although I did leave private reviews as I think constructive criticism is important. I hope someone would tell me (please tell me). These are all mistakes I’m almost 95% sure I’ve made at some point.

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So Your Plot Sucks (Part Two)

Yes, it still sucks.

If you read Part One to this discussion, you already know I’m terrible at plotting in romance erotica, and my struggles with the third-act. This addresses planning, conflicts, my fear of formulas, and genre expectations.

You’re probably not writing the next great American novel – people probably won’t hail your cake-bakery romance as the next Grapes of Wrath (which is terribly sad). You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, a sturdy wheel will do. On my journey thus far figuring out just how much plot belongs in romance erotica, I’ve decided that there needs to be a counterbalance – especially if your selling point to your readers is some hot, engaging smut. They want just enough to support the work, but in doing this, you can have fun, you can make us love and care about Emily, and you can insert a narrative about a sentient chair if you want to.

But you’re still selling something – and when we pick a book, you need to pay off the genre and plot promises you make.

But if I want plot beyond sex, what are my options?

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So Your Plot Sucks (Part One)

Yeah, it happens.

Your characters are almost life-like, your erotic imagery is on-point, but your plot is still blegh. The only climax your story has is a physical one. And unless you’re aiming to write a porn-without-plot (kudos to you, really), you probably intended to have a little drama in your erotic romance soup. As a woman, I truly do need a convoluted narrative to get off.  For me, it isn’t enough for his abs to glisten: I need them to save the girl, save his mother’s house from the debt collectors, and have hopes and dreams.

It’s a problem I face head on: how do I write a plot to my porn?

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What the Amish Taught Me About Writing Erotic Romance Novels

Yes, really!

Well, not literally. This isn’t a blog post about where you can find and take your authentic rustic barn-held writing class, taught by a no-nonsense young man called Johanne Yoder with a stiff historical beard and a chicken under his other arm. He wears his suspenders unironically, and his linen pants high. Even his English sounds thick and German, but it’s sexy as hell. You get to write on a slate with chalk, and sit on a hay-stack. His siblings all died of meningitis. He believes in non-violence. Yasssss.

Admittedly, I think that might be one of the ultimate hipster fantasies, I must commercialize it immediately. I certainly want to go. Johanne sounds hot, even if he won’t put out until marriage.

The Amish peoples would probably give fairly poor creative writing advice: they’re too busy living polite, humble, and hardworking lives. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned looking at the Amish genre in ‘erotic’ romance. So in a way, they can sure teach you about romanticism, erotic conservatism, cultural appropriation, writing about people you know nothing about, and historical-beard fetishism.

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