Saturday, August 19, 2006

Alison Kent: CIG - WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE, chapter 19

Erotic romance author, Alison Kent, has a non-fiction guide to WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE coming out in just a couple of weeks. When Alison was putting the book together, she held a thought-provoking roundtable discussion about the genre, which I took part in. I am now pleased to have the opportunity to review one of the chapters in advance of its publication.

Chapter 19. Intimacy: The Character/Reader Connection

First up, I have to say the style of the book is really appealing. Snappy chapters, broken into manageable subdivisions, with highlighted flash points drawing attention to important points. The chapter utilised my personal favourite teaching method -- learning by example. Alison uses bite-size chunks of fiction to illustrate her points, enabling the reader to see the lesson in action immediately, which helps it fall easily into place. She also includes a practical exercise, and a summary. All of this worked for me. I may be able to read vast tomes of solid fiction, but when it comes to instructions or non-fiction I want it quick and accessible. I want a book I can read easily, and then go and back dip into whenever the mood grabs me. That is exactly how this book works.

In terms of content, the chapter had my attention right away. Good characterisation is, for me, the single most important thing that hooks me into a story and keeps me reading. No matter what the genre, if the characterisation is strong and appealing, I’m led through the story with the characters, by identifying with them, living their adventures and emotions. In this chapter, Alison sets out the craft elements you can employ to strengthen your characterisation and make it really work for the reader, drawing your reader into the story by making that vital, deep connection between reader and character. Although there were specific sections dealing with intimate situations, I think the majority of the chapter would be useful to writers of any genre.

I have no doubt the book will find a wide audience and hope it gets promoted as a good general guide, as well as a guide for erotic romance writers. As a British writer, I think it will do particularly well in the UK. There isn’t a whole lot for ER writers over here. That is slowly changing. Harlequin M&B author, Julie Cohen, runs highly popular and successful workshops on writing sexy scenes in your romance novels, through the Romantic Novelists' Association. On the erotic side, Mitzi Szereto runs regular erotic writing workshops. There are a few guides on writing erotica, but I haven't seen anything else quite like this. My feeling is this book will sell well over here. I’ve got my order in.

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