I’m working on a new novel. I’m sorry, Adept Cycle fans, it’s not the sequel. Don’t worry, that’s my NaNo project this year. I’ll finish it in November come hell or high water.
But for now, I’m writing a romance.
Yes, that kind of romance.
I tried my hand at writing a couple erotic short stories, and it was entertaining, to say the least. I giggled my way through most of it. But then I started reading in the genre. A lot of it is terrible. But the ones that are good… hot DAMN they’re good. They have great characters, deep conflict, plot twists, a sincere focus on human unpredictability… and of course, hot sex. What’s not to love?
In the last few days, I’ve set down half a novel. Granted, I outlined the hell out of it first. I also spent a lot of time in character development, setting and scene research, and various other pre-writing tasks. And of course it’s going to need my customary first- and second-read-through edits before beta readers get hold of it. Then professional editing and final cleanup. Whew! That’s a lot to do!
I was talking to a friend who reads and reviews in the romance genre. Our discussion was around the amount of time it took me to write one very steamy scene. She asked why it took me seven hours to get through just under 2600 words. I said, “Well, it’s a sex scene, but I don’t want it to read as mechanical. It needs to be sizzling, but it also needs to drive the characterization and move the plot forward.” Her response was, “If you say so!”
That’s when it struck me: As writers, we work really hard so that the reader doesn’t have to.
When you sit down to write, you’re producing something physical from ideas that are entirely intangible. It’s critical to take the time to get every important detail onto the page. It’s imperative that plot lines tie together by the end, and that characters aren’t left dangling. No matter what the genre, there has to be a point to the story. Characters need to grow and change. Problems must get solved. Ideas have to be fully formed, fleshed out, and driven to their right conclusions.
It’s our duty as writers to tinker, edit, and play with our writing. We have to put in the hard work so that our readers aren’t left to fill in the gaps.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a romance to write. Maybe I’ll call it Hard Work.