Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Not to Write a Novel- and especially those juicy sex scenes

I think I've read about a hundred books about how to write a novel, so it was with great anticipation that I picked up the book How Not to Write a Novel 200-Classic Mistakes and how to avoid them- a misstep-by-misstep guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

Finally I've been able to read a book that takes into account the hundreds of mistakes a writer makes when trying to get their book onto the page. It is a collection of terrible, awkward, and unreadable excerpts that will teach you what to avoid if you want your novel published.

I urge EVERYONE, especially those that are sending me manuscripts thinly disguised as crime fiction/thrillers but that are actually erotic thrillers to read this book and pay special attention to the section called: Special Effects and Novelty Acts in the section called Sex Scenes- The Hays Code- Where the author looks away.

As the book describes " Desire is a funny thing. It can take on many wondrous forms. The porn form, complete with standard epithets and obligatory adjectives, has its uses. But it has a distinctive tone, which does not mesh well with most love scenes. "

Years ago I spoke on CJSR about love scenes in Harlequin romance novels. My high school English teacher had written a harlequin under a pseudonym and was kind enough to give me all the guidelines that were required to write a romance. It consisted of stating what profession you could use for your heroine, what locales to avoid and more importantly- what page sex had to appear on and how graphic it could be. If you are planning on writing one, this book will certainly help you refine the scene you want to write.

Gone are the days of simple sex scenes. Now everyone has to dress it up since sex is portrayed so much everyday. But in the quest to make sex scenes interesting, too many writers are resorting to the most ridiculous descriptions that are not only laughable, but offensive in their lack of skill.

As the authors state in their book: " Giving a reader a sex scene that is only half right is like giving her half a kitten. It is not half as cute as a whole kitten; it is a bloody, godawful mess. A half-right sex scene is not half as hot; it actually moves into negative numbers, draining any heat from surrounding material.
Doing it wrong can mean the death of your novel- trust me I speak the truth!

Please visit the website: to learn more about this latest blog and the book!

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