Honey Badger Don’t Care About A Well Written Romance…
But I Do. AND SO DO YOUR READERS.
What genre comes to mind when you think about great writing craft? For me, it’s Literary Fiction and Suspense Thriller. Those are the ones that pop into my head straightaway. Forgive me, but it’s usually not…um...Romance.
Maybe I’m jaded because I open BIG name romance novels and am crushed to see that some (not all) of the writing is rushed. Writing craft, sloppy. Is it something that happens when you have too many deadlines? When you already have a big name you can ride on?
Here is an example of when it might pay off to be a smaller name. She’s not a clichéd Rock Bottom Brewery. She’s more like that little pub on the corner, on the street that you love, with an absolutely comfortable vibe inside that is unique unto itself.
I happened upon Liz Crowe a few weeks ago while trolling through the Savvy Author loop. Bumping from author blog to author blog. Something about her made me stop and look closer.
· Her blog is fun and informative, interesting brewery theme – and wow – she is working HARD!
· She has several different romance series going on – I like it when writers can wear more than one hat.
· And this is the MOST IMPORTANT – I downloaded a Kindle sample of one of her titles.
She has MUCH MORE than flashy hot flesh in her novels and on her covers – she has a fabulous handle on WRITING CRAFT!
If you already read this blog, you know who she is and what she’s all about. But do you know her writing?? Writing craft is my passion. In my Triple Threat Behind Staging A Scene class, I teach writers how to incorporate several different elements into their scenes in order to make them move and grab their readers. Action scenes with flying fists and hurling hammers aren’t the only scenes that have action. When I say I want more ACTION in a scene– I am talking about emotion, pacing, character power, dialogue, character needs, physicality, setting, AND the choreography. I think I might be missing a few in that list… you will just have to take my class to find out. *cheesy grin
When I cracked open my Kindle Ap on my IPad and started reading Liz Crowe’s Blue Cruise , a romance, with ALL of my favorite scene writing elements –oh boy was I excited!
You want proof and analysis don’t you. No problem. I’m going to let you read an excerpt from Blue Cruise (One Night Stand Series) By Liz Crowe.
I’ll be interrupting from time to time for a NakedEditor dissection.
Honey Badger SHOULD care, because this is where the sweet stuff is. ** If you don’t get the Honey Badger reference, I will share a link at the bottom of the blog. You will get a kick out of it. I promise!
A sudden, piercing pain between his eyes made him grunt and lean up, forcing the woman drooling on his shoulder back into her own seat.
“Jesus.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. A flight attendant set a bottle of water on his tray. He gulped it down, but instead of helping, the pain spread, making him squint and grab his temples, trying to quell whatever thrashed around behind his eyes. He groaned and sat back, dreading the thought of a migraine on the last three hours of this flight. Then, as quickly as it gripped him, the headache left. For the first time in his memory he literally saw stars. He took deep breaths until his head cleared when a massive wave of panic replaced the pain.
He yanked his seatbelt off and stood. Running a hand over his stubbled face, he tried to fathom what in the hell was happening. It had to be some sort of anxiety attack, brought on by memory, anger, fear, and longing. Jesus, whatever it was it sucked. Shoving his hands in his trouser pockets, he started pacing the aisle, willing the lump away in his throat. He sat again. Got antsy. Stood and paced some more. Flight attendants gave him worried glances.
NakedEditor Dissection Break:
Okay! We have “liftoff!”
· Cadence shows movement, Active Description, Word choice: A sudden, piercing pain between his eyes made him grunt and lean up, forcing the woman drooling on his shoulder back into her own seat.
· Crisp choreography, Smooth transition into internalization, Vivid visceral: “Jesus.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. A flight attendant set a bottle of water on his tray. He gulped it down, but instead of helping, the pain spread, making him squint and grab his temples, trying to quell whatever thrashed around behind his eyes. He groaned and sat back, dreading the thought of a migraine on the last three hours of this flight. Then, as quickly as it gripped him, the headache left. For the first time in his memory he literally saw stars. He took deep breaths until his head cleared when a massive wave of panic replaced the pain.
· Active description, Self touch visual for reader to see the character, Crisp and Emotive Choreography, Smooth transition into internalization: He yanked his seatbelt off and stood. Running a hand over his stubbled face, he tried to fathom what in the hell was happening. It had to be some sort of anxiety attack, brought on by memory, anger, fear, and longing. Jesus, whatever it was it sucked.
· Good cadence showing rising emotion, Strong Pacing, Vivid Visceral: Shoving his hands in his trouser pockets, he started pacing the aisle, willing the lump away in his throat. He sat again. Got antsy. Stood and paced some more. Flight attendants gave him worried glances.
Ready for more Blue Cruise? Okay!
Nothing helped. If anything, he became short of breath. His heart pounded in his ears and he tried to lecture himself into calmness. Attempted to picture Tarkan’s soft eyes, imagine his hands on his shoulders, rubbing, soothing away Caleb’s Type-A stress. For some reason, for the first time in years, he couldn’t conjure mental images of his lover at all. That tore it. He took four long strides to the flight attendant’s area. He had to be quite a sight, eyes wild, hair standing up where he’d pulled at it for the last hour, but he no longer cared. Something was seriously wrong.
No one acknowledged his presence. That was odd. First class passengers typically wouldn’t tolerate being ignored. Caleb cleared his throat. The group stayed clustered around a small screen in their kitchen area. He muscled past them. Someone in the group quickly flicked off the screen. The attendant who’d been bringing him drinks fixed a smile on her face, but he saw the fear in her eyes.
“What.” His jaw ached from clenching it.
NakedEditor Dissection Break!
· Vivid visceral, Visual and smooth internalization: Nothing helped. If anything, he became short of breath. His heart pounded in his ears and he tried to lecture himself into calmness. Attempted to picture Tarkan’s soft eyes, imagine his hands on his shoulders, rubbing, soothing away Caleb’s Type-A stress. For some reason, for the first time in years, he couldn’t conjure mental images of his lover at all. That tore it.
· Crisp choreography, Active character description, Sharp powerful mood change: He took four long strides to the flight attendant’s area. He had to be quite a sight, eyes wild, hair standing up where he’d pulled at it for the last hour, but he no longer cared. Something was seriously wrong.
· Fast and simple transition, Clear incorporation of secondary characters, Emotive body language for POV character. No one acknowledged his presence. That was odd. First class passengers typically wouldn’t tolerate being ignored. Caleb cleared his throat. The group stayed clustered around a small screen in their kitchen area. He muscled past them. Someone in the group quickly flicked off the screen. The attendant who’d been bringing him drinks fixed a smile on her face, but he saw the fear in her eyes.
“What.” His jaw ached from clenching it.
Okay, okay, I won’t interrupt anymore…if I can help it. This time YOU dissect and tell me what sweet writing you see!
“Nothing sir, can I get you anything else?” The group disbanded, doing their jobs, completely silent. He used all he had not to yell with frustration. Obviously whatever had happened, no one planned to share it with passengers who might panic. His gut rolled again.
“Water,” he croaked. “Can I…?”
Someone shoved a piss-warm glass of water into his hand—again, very unlike the formerly polite and attentive crew. He took a deep breath, tried to catch the eye of the uniformed woman now carefully ignoring him. Giving up, he stumbled back to his seat, his knees suddenly unreliable. What in hell is going on? Whatever it was, he didn’t want to face it, hoped the flight would simply go on and on forever, never setting down and forcing him deal with the utter devastation that must have occurred. Was it an earthquake? Was Istanbul hit by terrorists? He talked himself out of the doomsday scenarios playing in his head, popped an aspirin, and concentrated on getting some sleep. Anything to hold at bay what was about to make him throw up the bourbon, food, and water he’d had that day. He settled for fuzzy daydreams about Tarkan, their smoking hot beginning, turbulent early days, and the moment he gave in to his true heart and admitted how he felt. He sighed, ignoring the niggling sharp pain that had developed behind his eyes again and drifted. Memories crowded his medicated brain, tumbling around and bringing home the very first time he realized he’d found the love of his life in Turkey.
Caleb startled awake, his lover’s soft brown eyes appearing to him the moment the plane touched down in the U.S. As soon as they appeared, they were gone, making his gasp with anxiety. Yanking his leather bag down from the overhead bin, he shouldered his way out, setting his face such that no one questioned his rudeness. One foot in front of the other, one more foot and I’ll be out in the terminal, find a fucking television and see….
He spun around, annoyed. The attendant was there, holding his phone. “You left this.” He yanked it from her hand. Her eyes were full of tears.
He gritted his teeth and continued the endless journey out of the plane, up the jet way and out into the hustle and bustle of LAX. People milled around, eating, drinking, going about their business. Caleb found someone in a uniform.
“Where is the nearest television?” The man frowned at him. He must look and sound like a crazy person, but he didn’t care. The uniform pointed to the massive screen right behind him. He heard it before he saw it, the calm tone of the CNN talking head booming out over the gate area.
“The Turkish capital Ankara has come under terrorist attack. Parliamentary offices were bombed and nearly destroyed. Hundreds are feared dead. It is believed the military was the target of the attack as details are emerging about an entire Turkish military battalion stationed there being completely decimated.”
The screen was awash with devastation. The camera jerked, jiggled, and showed the same image over and over again. A dazed-looking woman, covered in dust and blood wandered in front of the camera as a policeman intercepted her, rushing her away from what used to be the Parliament building. Her wail of utter terror and pain, on an endless loop on the huge screen reflected exactly how Caleb felt.
His vision darkened from the edges inward. Hands guided him into the nearest seat. For the next thirty minutes, he stared at the screen and watched his life end, over and over again.
Are you sitting forward in your seat?
Gripping the laptop?
Heart racing just a little bit?
Are you worried about this character?
Yes you are!
This is what GOOD WRITING CRAFT will do for your fiction. It will bring on the passion.
Want to learn how to do this? HEY YOU WRITERS - Leave a comment and your name will be added to a drawing to WIN a spot in Quick – it starts this week!
Comment below and tell us what grabbed you the most from Crowe’s writing! Or, what part of your fiction you think needs some Action and Passion. Or, just say “Hi!”
WAIT! ---------WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING?
Pop down to the bottom to comment, if you think you will forget, or stay here for a MINI-INTERVIEW with Liz – she answers some interesting questions here!
------How do you approach an action scene? Action scene, meaning: actual action between two or more characters, OR, emotional action, back and forth dialogue between two or more characters. A.B. or C.
A. You have a big conflict in mind and you tackle the piece as a whole, writing it as it comes to you. Explain this process.
B. You have several actions or emotional hits to make and you tackle it Dwight Swain style (Motivation Reaction Units.) cause/effect, stimulus/response. Explain this process.
C. None of the above. Explain your process.
I am a notorious Pantser, and not only that, I’m a “marathoner” once I have head written to the point that I’m nearly insane with the need to get the story out there.
I’m also very linear---I’ve tried to leap over a difficult scene to something already “done” in my head, but I just cannot do it. Scenes, dialogue, and overall plot flow fairly organically for me and if they don’t, I will stop, walk away and come back, usually within the hour, the thing sorted out thanks to a run, walk, or something designed to force my brain to “rest.”
While I typically do know how a story/novel will end, I fill in the middle as I go including the major conflicts.
-------How important do you think it is to connect the characters to the setting and description actively and emotionally? Do you have a list of descriptive elements you want to showcase in the scene before you start writing, or do you go in after you’ve started writing and add it in?
My books/novels are typically set outside the norm. My “Brewing Passion” series is set in the craft beer industry, meaning brewery, attached “tap room” and the environs owners of a brewery will find themselves in like brewing conventions and on distributor sales days. Therefore, I find myself doing world building for readers in a way that will hopefully draw them in, keep them interested with just enough detail without boring them cross eyed. I use the unique settings to create characters in equally unique situations.
I have 2 upcoming novels both set in the same “world” and so must balance the need to explain the setting with the urgency to move the story forward without too much detail.
I have a series that is mostly set in Istanbul, Turkey as well, which required a fair bit of intensive “back story” and setting description to pull the readers into it. The setting of these (Turkish Delights) truly IS a character, to my mind, and my human characters interact with and within it (as either natives, or expats who fall in love with it—and with the natives). My natives sometimes “hate” their country, and want to escape but it pulls them back, ultimately. My expats “love” the place and the people/person in it, but usually must leave.
---------Writing your way through relationship growing scenes often come with a dose of anxiety for most writers. Do you find these scenes easy to write, in comparison to a scene between two people without a love connection? What is your process while writing your characters into a relationship? Body language, types of dialogue?
I’ve been told by readers and reviewers alike that my characters are some of the most “natural” they’ve encountered. I build a lot of secondary stories into my longer narrative, giving my main characters close friends, family members, even co workers that they interact with and find personal interaction some of the easiest writing to do. I’m annoyed by stories with people who only act or react to one or maybe 2 other people. That’s not realistic to me and I like my romance/erotica/chick lit or mainstream fiction as realistic as I can get it.
To dial it back to the basics, I typically take the 2 people involved in my story (if there is a 3rd they come later), plop them into a situation wherein they must deal with each other, be it via a work situation, awkward family setting or otherwise and …. Make them deal. That brings out a lot of their true selves as it were, especially to me. Many (most?) times that “situation” involves intimacy, typically physical. That scene will sometimes end up at the beginning of the story but it’s been known to get moved around to the middle or end, depending on how things shake out in the revision process.
I love characterization—creating fictional people so bloody compelling based on the way they interact with others and come through in their own heads via their Point of View that my readers are salivating to actually meet them in person. I’m told I’m fairly good at that.
----- Is there any part of writing craft that you struggle with? Or a struggle that you have overcome?
My struggle right now to be perfectly honest is a “where do I go next” dilemma. I have had some fairly stellar successes this year, publishing 3 shorts stories and 4 novels, and in 2012 I will publish 7 novels/novellas and sold my first one to one of my targeted publishers Ellora’s Cave (“Lust On Tap” is a brewery based ménage romance novel slated for a late 2012 release).
I have 2 more projects in mind for the year, one brewery based time travel and another hot soccer m/m love story one for each of my bigger publishers.
What I’m thinking right now, is “time to find and agent?”
I want to grasp the brass ring of NY contracts. I’m a voracious reader, I study the market, I think I have some stories that would fly. But how to take the time from the round of writing/editing/promotion necessary to make even the smallest dent in the huge machine of writers out there in order to find an agent?
Somehow I don’t think you will have a problem getting an agent – you are a GOOD writer! I’ll make you a tee-shirt, in case you forget *snicker snicker!
Well, thank you Liz, for letting me SHOW OFF YOUR WRITING, and for answering questions a lot of writers out there are asking themselves.
WRITERS DON’T forget to leave a comment! Your name will be added to a drawing to WIN a spot in
Quick – it starts this week! Buy 2 of MY classes, get 1 FREE! See the Pre-Valentines deal at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100002828888002
LEARN MORE FROM NAKED EDITOR! Join me for my February class at Lawson Writer’s Academy: AND I have a new class starting in April – Madness to Method: No matter where you are in the writing process – this class will crack open your psyche to reveal dynamic character, motivation, and reaction; showing you how to activate emotion you never knew you had. ** What was the Honey Badger all about?
Tiffany Lawson Inman is a freelance fiction editor and writing instructor. Find out where she’s been guest blogging, where she’s going to be next, writing/editing tips, and her EDITING SERVICES at: http://bit.ly/NakedEditorFictionWritingBlog