Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oh sure, it looks easy until you try it...

Just a quick reminder - Blogging 4 Books is live for April and you have until midnight your time tomorrow to post an entry and try to win a book. There aren't a lot of entries so far, so it might be a good time to try. Check it out! Speaking of books, last night I was reading and came upon a scene that made me think. That wouldn't be so strange, I suppose, if I'd been reading Serious LIT-ra-churrrrr, but no. I was reading a romantic suspense novel. And the scene that made me think was a sex scene. Yep, seriously. Ok, to be clear, it wasn't so much the scene itself, it was my reaction to it, and then my reaction to my reaction that got my brain going. In this scene, as things are heating up and heading toward the main characters Doing the HubbaBubba, the man does a sort of little sexy stripper-dance move in front of the woman. I'm sure it was supposed to be spontaneous and playful, but my reaction was more like a curling lip and a sound sort of like "gaaaahhhhh". A few years ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about getting sneery over the stripper dance move, but now? Well, here's the thing. In 2004, I did the whole NaNoWriMo "write a 50k novel in 30 days" challenge, which is pretty much the only time I've tried to write fiction since I was about 9 years old. I got sucked into the idea at the last minute and I had no actual idea for a story. NaNoWriMo's slogan is "No Plot, No Problem", but really, I kind of thought that WAS a problem. If you write a mystery, you pretty much need to know who did what to whom, and why, and who is going to figure it out and how. If you write SciFi/Fantasy, you not only have to figure out who your characters are and what they're doing, you also have that whole world-building thing to do, which seems pretty overwhelming to me without a 30-day deadline, never mind with one. General fiction? Too broad, I wouldn't have known where to start. But romance? Well, the way I see it, with romance you have a plot outline built in. Two people meet, they want each other, obstacles prevent them having each other, they overcome the obstacles, they live happily ever after. Or in the case of romantic tragedy, they die. Either way, it's a place to start. So start I did, and somewhat to my surprise, I had a helluva good time writing that story....mostly. I liked my main characters, but I especially had fun with the secondary characters. Writing about the obnoxious neighbor (and her little dog too!), the spacy mother, the surfer dude teen, the sarcastic cat (yes, we know the cat is sarcastic because part of the story is told from the first person POV of the cat) - all those things were a blast. Writing the sex scenes between the main characters? Not so much! That surprised me. I mean, I like sex. I think it's an excellent idea. I like reading about sex when other people write it, provided they don't fall into the whole '80's romance purple prose trap, where everything involved is throbbing and weeping and pulsating like a bad alien on Star Trek. Eeeuuuwww. But I quickly found out that when I tried to write about it, the result was immediate Brain Freeze. All I could picture was that people might possibly read it who knew me and then I'd think "how will they know which parts come from my own sex life and which parts are made up?" and then I'd freak. Brain. Freeze. I managed to write one part of one scene where my mc's were headed toward HubbaBubbaLand, but they got interrupted, thank gawd, because writing just that much nearly made my head explode. In another part of the book, where they DID go to HBL, I simply refused to write it. I got them started, then typed "Add Sex Scene Later" and then next thing you know they're waking up with the heroine's undies on the lamp shade. I never did go back and add the sex scene. All of which brings me back to the book I was reading. Years ago, I could have sneered at the sexy stripper-dance part without a second thought, sure that one (meaning, of course, ME!) could do better. But that has been ruined for me now, since I've TRIED to do better and failed miserably. So now, I start to sneer and then think "Oh yeah, ya big poser, like you could do better! NOT!" Damn. Truth is a bitch. If I ever decide to try my hand at the whole "writing a romance novel" thing again, I think I need to find a collaborator - one who actually likes writing sex scenes. Then I could write the parts I think are fun - like the smartass cat - and then turn it over to my writing partner and say "Ok, in chapter six I've gotten them all hot for each other over dinner, now you get 'em to hump like bunnies without using the words "rod", "cleft", or "dewy". 'k? 'k! Oh yeah, and no self-consciously sexy stripper dances unless copious amounts of alcohol are involved. And I don't mean for the characters." Aaahhh....sounds like a plan. And even if I never write another word of fiction, at least the experience gave me a greater appreciation for those who do. It only looks easy until you try it! Let's close with a doodle, shall we? I'm not sure why I like it, but I do. "Ambiguous DebDoodle"

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