May – Infusing The Romance Novel With Emotional And Sexual Tension
It’s shaping up to be a very busy spring and summer. I’m teaching a great lineup of classes for for the Outreach International Romance Writing Chapter of RWA (OIRWA). The spring/summer schedule will kick off with Infusing The Romance With Emotional And Sexual Tension in May.
In this class we’ll take apart emotional and sexual tension to examine how these important components work and are built in romance novels.
Because the plot of the romance novel is comprised of the ebb and flow of both sexual and emotional tension it is crucial to incorporate both kinds of tension into the romance novel.
In this workshop, we will cover the basics of both kinds of tension and how character, conflict, and plot work together to provide the perfect atmosphere in which to build emotional and sexual tension.
We will examine several common plot devices that fuel emotional and sexual tension and examine why they work.
I will provide an overview of sexuality in romance novels including sweet, sensual, erotic and beyond vanilla erotic. I will provide information on how to combine the elements of traditional category romance with the eroticism of erotica to hit upon what has proven to be a popular hybrid between the worlds of romance and erotica…and almost a sub-genre within the genre of erotic romance.
I’ll cover how to spice up a manuscript for the erotic market. You can find more information about this workshop and register for the class at OIRWA.
June – Developing A Vocabulary For Writing Love Scenes
Once we’ve covered the basics of how emotional and sexual tension works in the romance novel we’ll delve deeper in June with Developing A Vocabulary For Writing Love Scenes.
In Writing Emotional and Sexual Tension (which precedes this workshop in May) we cover the basic plot/conflict/character connections that fuel sexual and emotional tension in romance novels. If the plot, conflict, character do not work together to create the place for tension to grow no lesson on vocabulary will make sexual tension flourish…or love scene work.
But, assuming the plot, conflict, and character pieces are in place—then there is a need for a strong vocabulary for writing love scenes. And that’s where we will focus in this workshop…which could be seen as part two of Writing Emotional and Sexual Tension.
In this workshop we’ll cover:
• Anatomy—what to call those male and female parts
• Genre and how genre considerations impact love scene development and love scene vocabulary
• Creating specific sensual experiences–specific reactions
• Verbs and their role in love scenes–how to use verbs to soften or sharpen a love scene
• The language of fantasy—how it differs from the language of reality—how to incorporate both
• Hard words–soft words–sensual words which should you use?
• How to unite the languages of love and lust so that the balance between the two remains correct for your chosen genre
• Sexual experience is part mental, part physical, part emotional…how do you convey each part of the experience?
• Developing a vocabulary for each part of the experience—mental—emotional—physical—spiritual
Though it will be helpful to have taken the Writing Emotional & Sexual Tension Workshop prior to this workshop it is not a requirement. The two workshops do work well together, but work well independently as well. You can find out more about this workshop or register at OIRWA.
July – Intensifying Emotion
Characters that don’t really experience the peak emotional experiences in their fictional lives are death to stories because these characters cannot deliver the vicarious emotional experience the reader sought when they picked up the book, story, or manuscript in the first place.
During this four-week workshop we will dig deep into our characters’ emotional lives to examine the nuanced and abstract nature of emotional experience so that we can better understand how emotional experience is different from physical and mental experience. Understanding how emotional experience works and how it differs from other types of experience will allow us to better capture the complex and often abstract nature of emotional experiences within our stories.
We’ll dig into character base emotional states and will examine how a character’s base emotional state impacts his or her emotional experiences on both the micro and macro scale and how this state also influences the larger emotional changes which take place over the course of a story as a character’s base emotional state gradually changes through the process of falling in love.
We will look at emotional empathy and examine the many roles that empathy plays in our character’s emotional experiences and how we can better use empathy to get readers to vest emotionally in our characters and in their emotional experiences.
We’ll cover character dissociative disorder, which happens when the character moves away from their center during peak emotional moments, sometimes to the point that they become disengaged from their bodies altogether and describe their experiences from an omniscient or almost omniscient perspective. (This is also known by the common name shallow point of view.)
We’ll cover some generally poor advice which has made authors self-conscious about which words they use when they are conveying emotional experiences. We’ll cover things like when we should name an emotion and when we should and should not use the word felt.
We’ll provide an intervention for those troublesome characters that have been taught to be seen and not heard and whose early training comes through as characters who do not give voice to their feelings at all. Instead they take the tact of nearly pantomiming their feelings. Their hearts pound fast when they are scared. Their eyes glaze over when they are bored. They stomp their feet and kick things when they are angry, but you will almost never hear a sentence that has to do with a feeling inside of them enter their narrative.
While it is good to show emotion through action, and while sometimes the action is enough to convey an emotional reaction it shouldn’t be the only tool the character has for conveying his or her emotional experiences. Emotions are too nuanced to convey clearly through charades.
This class is a good primer on big picture aspects of writing emotion, why writing emotion is different than writing thoughts, or physical action, and why you need different tools to write emotion well. You can learn more about this class or register for it at OIRWA.
August – Developing An Emotional Vocabulary
Intensifying Emotion is a great precursor for Developing An Emotional Vocabulary which delves deep into the associations that people make with emotion to help provide class participants with a rich, varied, descriptive vocabulary with which to create the emotional worlds of their characters.
In Intensifying Emotion, we discovered that describing an emotion and describing an emotional experience are not always the same thing. Emotional experiences are different from other experiences in several key ways, which explains why we need to use different tools and techniques when describing emotional experiences. In this workshop we’ll focus on expanding our vocabularies in order to describe the emotional experiences our characters have in ways that are unique and specific to each character’s specific background, past experiences, field of reference and other important character aspects. After this class, authors will never again need to feel that their descriptions of emotional experiences are dull, uninspired, and the same book to book. We’ll learn how to use words to increase the emotional intensity of our characters’ experiences and our readers’ levels of engagement with our characters.
In Intensifying Emotion, we learned that it wasn’t horrible to use an emotion’s name…but that we needed to go further…to describe the emotional experience more deeply so that we were conveying not just that the character felt sad…but what the experience of feeling sad felt like inside the character. This is where a broad, diverse, multi-sensory vocabulary comes in.
Emotions have nuance, they have resonance, they can be compared to other experiences and to other things using similes and metaphors. In this workshop we’ll work to develop a vocabulary for describing THE EXPERIENCE of an emotion by delving into the complex network of abstract connections that all of us make when it comes to our emotional experiences.
We’ll develop a vocabulary for describing emotional experience using: