Official Blog of Phaze Books, Digital First Publisher of Romance!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Welcome to the M/M Workshop

Hola, good Sunday Morning to you all! How is everyone? I'm bloody exhausted. Just got back from up and back day to Yaoi Con. Thud!

We have a workshop for you. It's going on all this week. Everything you need to know about writing M/M romance & erotica. Myself, Mychael Black and Jade Falconer will be waxing prosaic on how to craft a good M/M story.

And that's the first tip. It's got to be a good story. All the basic rules of writing apply:

Strong Characters. People aren't going to want to read red hot manloveing if they can’t stand the characters. They have to be fully fleshed out, believable and sympatric.

A reasonable plot. The weaker the plot, the stronger the characters have got to be. Relationship stories are fine, but there still has to be a driving motivation for the characters. Fiction Factor has some good discussions about various topics like "Novel Templates," "Using Index Cards to Plot Your Novel," and the like.

Grammar, spelling, style count. They count in erotica/romance as much as anywhere. I usually recommend Jack Lynch as a decent reference… he's a professor of English at Rutgers University. He's got helpful tips on his own and a fairly good compendium of online resources.

Now I'll throw the floor open for some questions and we'll see if we can't help you.


leatherdykeuk said...

How do you write decent erotic scenes without reverting to the clinical or the tired od cliches? There're are only so many times you can use 'cock' and 'dick'.

James Buchanan said...

That is something everyone struggles with. Also the pronoun issue. He, he, his, his. You don't always have to say "Jake thrust his cock into..." (trying not to get too graphic) you can just say "Jake thrust into..." You have to get comfortable with just about all the various euphamisms for penis, avoiding the down right silly ones. Purple prose is just down right silly in guy on guy. As an aside: I know of a certain writer (Lambda nominee) who read a piece of thier own work where the edits were done without input -- enough money and you will find yourself concenting to things like that. This is a nationwide gay mens' publication and they'd edited out several instances of cock and dick and put in things like "meaty rod." The writer in question just kept looking at the check reminding themselves just how much money that 4k worth of verbage got them.

Mychael Black said...

While in gay porn, buzzwords are a big thing (cock, ass, etc.), in romance/erotic romance, they don't have to be used so much. I personally have written scenes without a single buzzword, yet it was very clear what was happening and it was still erotic.

As James said, pronouns are another hurdle for authors of any same-sex story, whether it's m/m or f/f.

And Lord, don't get me started on "purple prose." While I like a little humor in my erotic stories (as a reader), I sure as Hell don't want to be laughing my ass off during what *should* be a hot-n-heavy sex scene. And just to poke fun at those goofy stories, Shayne Carmichael and I wrote a HORRIBLE example of the ultimate purple prose. It shows you what NOT to do:

Angel said...

So, what about unsympathetic characters?

Psychopaths, killing machines, the Devil himself?

No purple prose? So having sex amid the blind cyclopean stones at unnatural and unnameable angles in the necrophagic shadows of the deserted graveyard overgrown with rank and unwholesome weeds is a bad idea?

Mychael Black said...

*chuckles* I'm always game for the "unsympathetic" know, the bad boys. ;)

As for YOUR version of "purple"...heh, that's not purple. That's atmospheric! :D

James Buchanan said...

Just because they're evil, insane bastards... doesn't mean they can't be sympathic characters. One of my soon to be released bad boys is lock your doors, run for the hills, hide your daughters and sons evil. But people like him.

By sympathic I didn't mean necessarily nice. It has to be someone the reader can 1. on some level identify with and 2. is engaging enough to make the reader care what happens to them.

Geez, look at Lucifer in Paradise Lost. Nobody remembers the gazillion stazas about all the goody-too-shoes, 'cause Lucifer is just so freaking cool. Here's a guy figting for what he beieves in, defiant (to the end defiant) with probably one of the best lines ever written... "Better to reign in hell then serve in heaven!"

Angel said...

I'm very familiar with Paradise Lost. It had a profound influence on my story for Torquere's Arcana series.

One thing I've heard from some folks is that "Erotica and romance writers don't respect the SF" when they are trying to write SF romantica. And given some of the stuff I've read, I agree.

Any tips for respecting the genre you're writing?

Mychael Black said...

Make it believable. Do your research. That really goes for any genre, but fantasy and SF especially. Suspension of disbelief is paramount to the story's success.

SF stories seem to be worse about it than fantasy, to be honest. I can't think of any bad examples, but one good example that readily comes to mind is Stephanie Vaughan's "Off-World" (coming soon from Torquere Press). The SF elements in Ms. Vaughan's book are believable, yet still remain in the SF scope of the story. (I read the book for a pre-release review quote for her site.)

James Buchanan said...

Sci-Fi is really hard to write. People think I'll just write an offworld story and it'll work. But it's hard. You have to build not only just a world, but a whole socio-economic reason for existance. Everything from manners, to clothing, to transportaion has to be figured out. If you don't take the time to do that it will go flat.

Mychael Black said...

Amen, James. And aside from Stephanie's Off World, I've not found anything as believable.

Angel said...

I'm working in the dark future subgenre, for NaNoWriMo. It's a balkanized America, about 10 countries where the United States were.

I'm having to sort out each one's tech level, their attitude and their economies. And still write a believeable road-story in there too. (meet cute, travel, peril, mortal peril, rescue, escape)

I've learned more about biodiesel, Cherokee rituals, cotton harvesting and tanker trucks than I ever really wanted to know. *g*

Mychael Black said...

*chuckles* You have my sympathies, Angel. ;)

I've dabbled in SF before, but it's just not my usual thing. My forte is fantasy, be it urban or high fantasy.

James Buchanan said...

I'll just stick to "soft plot" relationship stories ;P. As if.

Angel said...

Going with the first question:
Leather Dyke UK,

For most readers, cock is a neutral word. They don't read it as cliche, and it doesn't sound clinical.

Dick is a little naughtier.

Prick is a little old-fashioned.

Shaft is good, especially if you've just played with the head. "...his tongue busy and teasing along the shaft, under the foreskin and on the head."

Hardness, and erection are a little clinical, and hard-on is a bit naughty. But all three can work in the right story.

"Length," as in "Jack slid his mouth down the whole length of Will, teasing with rum-soaked breath" works nicely.

Endowment should not be overused, but can work a time or two: "he shed the loincloth, revealing a modest and circumcised endowment."

Some men have silly names for theirs. "The Spyglass was already extending and he was interested."

Done right, even just a name can work: "He stroked Adlai through the good cotton of his pants."

Mychael Black said...

Excellent examples! Thanks, Angel! :)

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