Writing & Editing

The difference between writing horror and writing steamy romance

People have told me they’ve read my books and had nightmares. This fills me with such joy. But I’ve also been told that readers have read something I wrote under my pseudonym and had to go find their husband. This also makes me happy. Some people think it’s odd that the same person who inspires nightmares, can also inspire “happy endings,” but to me, there’s not much difference in the technique behind writing horror and writing erotic romance.

This is my blog, so what I’m saying here isn’t a fact. It’s just my opinion.

With that said, the most important thing I have to do when writing a story is make the reader feel whatever I want them to feel. That breaks down into three things:

2. Ambience. But it’s about more than just trying to create great dialogue. I try to give

In Doomsday, there are a few pretty scary scenes that happen underground. Though that’s kind of a cheat,  isn’t it. So I did a few above ground scary scenes, too. At Triune, on the streets, in the “abandoned” amusement park. The ambience has to be there for the reader to get scared. I remember watching “The Ring” years ago. That was one creepy movie. What made it even creepier was the atmosphere…the ambience. The way the director filmed that movie was perfect! There was an overall feel of darkness about that movie, which made it scarier. 

3. Emotion. Number three is the most important factor for me. I have to express how my characters feel. I can’t just say they’re scared, I have to show the reader how scared they are. In Doomsday, when Remy and Vincent are in the Underground and dead people start to move, tough Remy lets Vincent hold her hand. Why? Because she’s terrified. Dead people should stay dead, as far as she’s concerned. What else does she do? She sweats, she wants to run, she wants to scream. Vincent’s demeanor has changed, too. He’s whispering to her and he’s trying his best to stay calm.

If the reader doesn’t see how scared your character is, they won’t be scared, either.

When it comes to writing steamy romance, all three points are the same, except the goal is titillation instead of fear. Writing erotic romance is more of a challenge for me, though. My erotic romance sub-genre is very spicy, so getting it right is like walking a fine line. When I write Stella Rice, hands down, the most important thing I do is express how much she’s enjoying herself. If I don’t make sure the reader knows how happy Stella is, some of the scenes could make them uncomfortable. And you never want to make the reader uncomfortable. If the reader is uncomfortable, they’re slipping out of your world. You want them to stay in your world.

The dialogue for the male characters has to be spot on, too. I don’t worry if I’m saying something a man wouldn’t actually say. I’m not writing for men. I’m writing sexy fantasy for women. Women don’t want to hear real men talk when they read erotic romance. They want the men to be their perfect fantasy. They want the men to say what they’ve always secretly wanted a man to say to them. So essentially, when it comes to dialogue, what’s most important to me is that I’m saying something a woman would want to hear.

It’s all about fantasy and escaping the real world.

Atmosphere is a biggie, too. In the second Stella Rice book, Stella goes with Jake and Dev to a fetish masquerade ball. Originally, Stella gets upset and they end up leaving early. But two of my friends test read the book and weren’t fans of Stella and the boys leaving the party early. I had built up the scene so much that they wanted her to stay and have a good time. I ended up adding the scene where the three go up that staircase to the private room. And you know what, my friends were right. The scene is so much better with Stella staying at the fancy party and having a good time.

The city of Baltimore also plays a huge role in the Stella Rice books. Club Blue, the bar Stella and her friends hang out at, Jake and Dev’s luxury condo on the harbor, Stella’s condo. (Originally, Stella lived in Mt. Vernon, but when I re-booted the series, I moved her to Harbor East. But both locations feel like Baltimore to me.) When you read these books you know that Stella is a successful business owner, thriving in a big city, and is embarking on the most stimulating & erotic journey of her life! Escapist fiction at its best.

So that’s the world according to me. At least when it comes to writing fiction. 🙂

Happy Reading!

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