A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of books.
A logline is usually a sentence you see in big print on the back of a book or the one sentence you hear at the beginning of a movie trailer.
Example: On the back of my book, It Happens in Threes, you see the sentence, "Once burned, twice learned, did she dare trust again?" That is a logline. It makes you wonder how was she burned, and who or what was she afraid of trusting.
Example: On the back of "Identity: Unknown" by Suzanne Brockmann, the logline is
"What he remembered
His clothing size
What he didn't remember
So your first question is why didn't he remember anything beyond his clothes size.
These are both hooks that as a reader you see first and foremost and go, "Hm. That sounds interesting." Now you want to know more.
Now that we know this, let's talk about how to actually write this.
A typical and effective way to create a hook is to use the "When" formula. Stop waving your hands in the air and I'll tell you, oops! show you what the "When" formula is.
"Bridges of Madison County": When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.
"The Corrections": When family patriarch, Alfred Lambert, enters his final decline, his wife and three adult children must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
The "When" formula is “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age (maybe), professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own way.
I don't recommend this for every hook, but it is a good starting point to get the basic high points written down in one concise sentence. From there, you can modify it and make it even stronger and stand out more. Remember, you're trying to take a 350 page book and tell a reader, agent, or editor what happens in 1 sentence.
Your assignment: Write two hook sentences that use the "When" formula. Tomorrow, we'll talk about other ways to write the hook.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of books.
The prompt was: Her phone rang. . .
My short free write:
Her phone rang and Jane's heart stopped. It rang again and her heart jumped into action, her palms sweating. When the cell phone played the death march a third time, she swallowed the knot of fear that threatened to choke her, and pressed the talk button.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This should be an interesting one.
Prompt: Her cell phone rang. . .
Feel free to share whatever you come up with, whether a single sentence or a paragraph, or more. But treat it like all the others we've done. Be sure to grab your readers attention in that first sentence.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I decided that we all need to read more. Actually, I usually read two books a week. I also decided that we need to get us authors more exposure.
In honor of those two big decisions made by me (LOL!), I have created a Book-A-Week Challenge. Look to the left column on my blog and scroll down past the kitty pictures. I started the list.
What exactly is that? Well, every week we should read a book. Okay, yeah, that was kind of self-explanatory. But, besides reading the book, we should post comments/mini-reviews of the book we read.
My thought is that I will post ahead of time the book that I will read for the next week. You can choose to read the same book or read another. Either way, on Sunday, I will post my review of the book I read and ask you to add your comments for the book you read.
What will we get out of this? Simple. We can expose each other to books that we may never have heard of or read if someone else hadn't recommended it.
Added benefit is the fact that some of the books we read may not be on the NY Times Best Seller list. In fact, what I would like to do is suggest to authors like me who are just starting out that you submit on a post your book titles for the TO BE READ PILE. I'm game to read.
Here is my one caveat: I personally like to read mystery, suspense, romance, and the occasional true crime. I will read another genre if someone says "OMG! You have to read this." Well, I will if you beg and plead. :-)
Remember, it's all about being hooked, so hook us to want to read your book.
My first Book-A-Week Challenge post will be next Sunday, May 10. I'm starting with Sweet Forever by Ceri Hebert http://www.cerihebert.com/.
What is a hook?
It is not the thing dangling at the end of a fishing line, but pretty darn close. A hook is a concise, tagline for your book. It hooks your reader’s interest, and reels them in.
It refers to the first line, paragraph, or page of a story, or sometimes all three. It is the first impression a reader has of the story and the first impression an editor or agent has of a submission. For both, it may mean the difference between buying this story and buying something else.
Why do you need them?
The hook is the part of the story that draws the reader in. It says, "This is the one you want to read." Since the first person to read your completed story will be an editor or agent who has millions of books, proposals, and contracts to read, if he/she doesn’t like the very beginning they will not be reading any further. Neither would any other reader who has a few minutes to grab a book and go.
Where can you see a hook?
The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read a few examples.
Your exercise, should you choose to accept it, is to post 5 examples of hooks from books that you have READ, not written. Why am I suggesting that? Because. . . what made you buy the book? Show us what made you buy 5 books. It can be the first sentence, the first paragraph, or the beginning of the jacket blurb. You choose.
1. Roger Seagraves walked out of the U.S. Capitol after an interesting meeting that, surprisingly, had had little to do with politics. That evening he sat alone in the living room of his modest suburban home after arriving at an important decision. He had to kill someone, and that someone was a very significant target. Instead of a daunting proposition, Seagraves saw it as a worthy challenge. ~first paragraph from The Collectors by David Baldacci
2. She was dead the minute she answered the ’link. ~ first sentence from Promises in Death by JD Robb
3. When Lizzie Rush uncovers evidence that thrill-seeking billionaire Norman Estabrook may be at the center of an international criminal network, she finds herself playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse. ~first sentence of jacket blurb from The Mist by Carla Neggers
4. Ellen Gleeson was unlocking her front door when something in the mail caught her attention. It was a white card with photos of missing children, and one of the little boys looked oddly like her son. ~first two sentences from Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
5. THERE ARE SOME men who enter a woman’s life and screwit up forever. ~first sentence from One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Don't forget to share your examples! See you tomorrow.
I think we'll spend the next couple of days discussing hooks for your books.
Let’s say you have to go on a business trip or you’re going to visit your family and you need a good book to bury your face in while your brothers and sisters argue over who gets the house when your parents are dead. By the way, your parents are sitting right there, alive and well.
Okay, yes, this has happened to me, although I only have sisters.
Now that you know this situation is inevitable, you need to get a good book to read. With so many books available, how will you choose the book you want to take with you?
Standing at the newspaper stand in the airport, you have five minutes to get a book. Staring at the wall of books, shuffling your feet back and forth, you pull one out. What do you look at to decide if that is the book you want to take on that 3-hour flight to tune out the screaming kids all going to Disney?
Come on, we have all been on that plane ride.
Some people judge a book by its cover, some will read the blurb on the back, and yet others will read the first page. Remember you only have five minutes to make a decision because they have just announced that your flight is boarding.
Whether the reader is a man or woman off the street, an editor, or an agent, five minutes is the rule of thumb to capture a reader and get them to want to read more and buy your book.
This is what you, the writer, need to keep in mind when you are writing the very first page of your book. No matter what you write, you have only five minutes to hook your reader. Therefore, your hook needs to be on that first page, in the first paragraph, even better the first sentence of your story.
Here is your first exercise for Book Hooks.
Exercise: Post a first sentence of a book you have written or one from your WIP, or even just do a free write. Feel free to post several examples.
A warning whisper in the back of her mind didn’t stop Ruby from pushing open her fiancé’s bedroom door. - from It Happens in Threes
Tiny hairs danced on the back of Charley’s neck. - from Connect the Dots
When she discovered her date wore pink women's underwear with frills, Jane did not stick around to find out what else he may or may not have. - from my Pink Undie story free write
She had turned the place upside down, inside out, and could not find it. - free write
Have fun and look forward to seeing what you write!
Monday, April 27, 2009
I just got home and saw this in my email. My book trailer for It Happens In Threes is up for a covey. Take a look, vote, and leave a comment if you wish.
Jeannie Ruesch did the work on the video. Checkout her site at www.willdesignforchocolate.com
Looking for something light and entertaining to read? Checkout http://www.thelistbook.blogspot.com/
I had the pleasure of finding Carmen Shirkey and getting a signed copy of her book. Below is my review posted on Amazon.
The List" is a fun read and a must read for anyone who has ever dated. You will laugh and cry and say to yourself, "Been there." What woman, young or old, hasn't made a list of quality traits wanted in Mr. Right? Whether you've written it down or kept it in your head, you can relate to the heroine, Candace and her search for the perfect guy.
It is practically summer and the weather is wonderful. Take "The List" to the beach or your back deck, even dinner at your favorite watering hole and lose yourself in the trials and tribulations Candace has to go through to get to her version of Mr. Perfect.
Everyone can relate to this book.
Last night I had the weirdest dream. For the record, I am not a teenager. I know you could not tell by my photo. :-) HA!
Anyway, I dreamt about going to the senior prom. How weird is that? I don't remember all the details just that it was about the build up to the dance. I even picked out a dress which the guy in my dream said was perfect. Like a guy on prom night would say otherwise?
But of course, I can't remember who the guy was. Actually, I remember the dress better than the guy. Some slinky, silk thing that hooked over one shoulder and left the other exposed. I think that's because I like my shoulders and consider them one of my better features. Yeah, yeah, who cares what Freud would say to that.
So here's the thing. Dreams are very important to me, especially in my writing. Many times I will get a clear vision of a scene and yes, it will end up in a book or it is the beginning of a book as in the case of my current WIP. But, what was the senior prom with an unnamed guy supposed to mean? How am I supposed to use that in a book? No, it will not fit in my WIP nor my next story that is already drifting in and out of my head like a nagging man. :-)
What dreams have you used in your writing? Do you write them down as soon as you wakeup or do you let the images percolate?
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and all your smells were of the pleasant, fragrant, and flowery kind. I spent most of my time outdoors clearing away tree limbs from the winter ice storm. There were tons of them. I got to plant very few flowers, but I did find this annual called Sweet Alyssum. You should have seen me walking around Home Depot. I went through the aisles with my nose in the air sniffing as if a dog on the scent. All I knew is that I had to find this sweet smell, the kind that makes you want to take deep breaths and never let them out because the aroma is so intoxicating. I planted it at the edge of my deck so everytime I sit outside I can get a big whiff. Ahh!
On to the homework. On Friday I put out a prompt: The smell of
Here is my brief response. I'm going to add this to the Starbucks burning one last week.
The smell of the burning building was toxic, stinging her lungs and the little hairs in her nostrils, and it would not go away. Even after the fire engines arrived and put out the flames, the odor of coffee, gasoline, and burnt human flesh permeated her nose. A firefighter gave her a hanky and she held it to her face, covering her mouth and nose, but it did not prevent the acrid, pungent stench from creeping in and making her gag. It hung in the air like a curtain of death.
Posted by Denise at 9:15 AM
Friday, April 24, 2009
Supposedly it is going to be 80 degrees this weekend so yours truly will be trying to unburden her yard of broken limbs from the winter ice storms and plant more flowers. I love the smell of spring and the flowers blooming.
In honor of the gorgeous weekend ahead, I thought I would post a new writing prompt.
Prompt: The smell of . . .
Have fun! Enjoy your weekend and I look forward to seeing what smell you write about.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The prompt was: On her way to work. . .
On her way to work at the most ungodly hour, Jane felt like a walking zombie.
“Coffee, all I need is hot, strong coffee,” she muttered sliding into her car, keying the ignition and taking off.
Thank goodness for Starbucks. They had pre-dawn hours. She pulled up to the drive-thru squawk box and was greeted by an overly chipper salesperson.
“Good morning! Welcome to Starbucks! May I take your order?”
Geez, did the girl mainline caffeine? Jane rubbed at her temples. “I’ll have a Venti Raspberry Mocha with an extra shot of espresso.”
“Would you like whole or skim milk?”
“Skim, please.” She liked the foam.
“Would you like whipped cream?”
Her voice so sticky sweet, Jane envisioned the girl’s irritating smile plastered on her face. “Ugh.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.”
Jane rolled her eyes. “Yes, whipped cream.”
“Would you like a granola parfait or anything from our bakery case?”
“No, thank you.” But she’d love to tell the cheerful woman what she could do with all those pastries.
“A silencer,” she grumbled.
“Nothing. Thank you.”
“That will be five dollars even. Please pull forward.”
Jane glanced at the clock on her dashboard. The green illuminated lights read 5:17. “Too freaking early,” she mumbled putting the car into drive and easing forward.
At the window, the chirpy cashier slid the glass pane back. “Good morning! That’ll be five dollars, please.”
The blinding grin the girl offered her as she held out her hand for payment made Jane gnash her teeth. Did she not understand that people were not supposed to be peppy in the wee hours before the sun came up and before she had her caffeine? For a brief second, she had a fantasy of punching the smiling woman’s lights out, but she had her coffee.
After rummaging through her bag, she located her loose cash and handed it over to the bubbly blonde. Jane snatched the paper cup from the salesperson as soon as money exchanged hands.
“Thanks,” she said bringing the cup straight to her lips and taking a gulp of the hot, extra-caffeinated drink before setting it between her legs.
“Have a nice day!”
Jane glared at the girl beaming at her. She only had one sip. She still had to finish the cup before the day would even come close to nice. Shifting the car into drive, she gave the vehicle a little gas, and slowly accelerated to the stop sign ahead where she braked.
As she peered left then right, she lifted the cup to her lips again and took another drink. Her gaze went to the rearview mirror when she took another sip. The cashier leaned against the window. Smiling.
Jane rolled her eyes heavenward. “All morning people should die,” she murmured.
Holding onto her coffee in one hand, she steered with the other, let up off the brake, and rolled forward. Once again, she looked left then right and glanced up at her rearview mirror. The blonde was out of sight.
She accelerated and a loud explosion ripped through the air. She slammed on her brake and the car lurched forward. Her coffee cup went flying, hitting the windshield. The lid popped off and hot liquid spilled everywhere. “Shit!”
A metal crashing thud smashed into her car. She gaped at the drive-thru speaker planted in the hood of her BMW. Jane twisted in her seat to see what had happened, but the damn seatbelt would not cooperate. Shoving the gear into park, she punched the release, and freed herself from the clutches of her car. As soon as she did, she spun in her seat.
The sight that greeted her was a macabre of black and gray, orange and red. Smoke billowed up from a large ball of flames.
“Holy. . .”
Sightlessly, Jane reached for the door handle, pulled, and fell out of the car backwards onto the pavement. Fire spit at her but she dodged it as she ran toward the shop in hopes of finding the cashier. She had to be alive. “Please, let her be alive.”
When her foot struck the sidewalk in front of what used to be Starbucks another blast rocked the ground and sent her to her knees. Glass shattered, littered the pavement, and smacked at her backside like hail in a storm.
Clasping her hands over her head, Jane risked a look. Nothing. There was nothing left but burning embers and a melting green sign.
Sirens wailed in the distance, and tears stung her eyes as she rose to her feet. She stepped back, keeping a safe distance, at least what she thought was a safe distance from the inferno and stared in horror at the skeletal remains of the building.
“Be careful what you wish for,” she murmured dragging a hand through her hair. “Ouch!”
First, let me tell you that I am not normally a big whiner. What I mean to say is that I don't whine very often. But when I do whine, og yeah, I whine big time.
So why am I whining today?
Because of my new job and the horrible, disgusting, and very painful drive to and from south Boston. Last night it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to get home in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I left my house at 7 AM and arrived at work at 8 AM. As soon as I walked in I found out that I had an 8 AM meeting, for which I was now late. The rest of the day was spent in various meetings, including one that ran until 5 PM. (I was supposed to leave at 4.) When I left an hour late, I sat in that brake light - to - brake light traffic. I wanted to pull my hair out!! Not to mention the crazy drivers that don't know how to use signals and just cut you off, but hey, we expect that.
By the time I arrived home, oo you think I wanted to do anything?
I gave my kitties who missed me desperately some treats and played with them for a few. I feel so neglectful being gone 12 hours a day. Then I ate some cereal because yes, I was too gosh darn tired to go back out or cook anything.
After that, I tried getting my new laptop up on the internet but, of course, it was not cooperative. Dang 64-bit operating system! So, I never got that accomplished.
Writing?! What writing? HA! How do other writers do it? Seriously. After working or commuting and working 10 to 12 hours a day where do writers find time to actually work on their manuscript?
Now wonder my first two books took years to complete.
Whew! Okay, I'm glad I got that out there. Thanks!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In case you all hadn't figured it out yet, I started my job in South Boston this week. I apologize for not keeping up with the blog and all. I'm hoping that once I get used to it that I will be back to more posts.
I will try to come up with an online learn and share like our love scene posts the other week.
In the meantime, in honor of my new and long daily commute, here is a writing prompt.
On her way to work. . .
Good luck and share! Don't forget to make them want to read more.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The prompt was: Digging a hole for her pansies. . .
Digging a hole for her pansies, Kara poked her mini-shovel into the dirt and swore when it struck another rock. This is what she got for living in and trying to grown a garden in the Granite State. She blew out a frustrated breath that lifted her bangs away from her face and swiped the sleeve of her shirt across her forehead.
“Okay, Mr. Rock, it’s you or me and I vote me.”
Up on her knees, she once again dipped her little metal shovel into the hole and tried to wedge its tip to the side of the stubborn stone. “Come on,” she said, the muscles in her arms straining while she held her breath.
When the shovel slipped from her hand and went sailing across the dirt, landing near her old apple tree, she plopped down on her butt, and pulled out her bottle of water. After taking a sip, she resealed the lid then leaned over the hole and eyed the source of her irritation.
“Nope.” She shook her head. “I will not move my hole. I will defeat you,” she vowed, and got to her feet.
This called for use of the big dog, her wide-mouthed, dull-length shovel. When she returned from the garage, she addressed the hole and its unwanted resident.
“Last chance,” she called out.
Kara shrugged, moved her head side-to-side, and cracked her knuckles. From the opposite side of the hole, she stuck the tip into the dirt, wedged it between the rock, then pulled it back, and stepped on the flat part of the blade so it went deeper. When she thought she had it positioned where she wanted it, she lowered her center of gravity, grasped the wooden handle, and heaved.
The damn thing fought back, but she was stubborn and persistent. “Come on you pain in the butt. My flowers want a home and you are it. Now get the he – ll ou –t!”
Suddenly, the offending stone, gave way, her shovel slipped, she fell back, and the rock went airborne. When it dropped right between her legs, Kara eyed the miniature meteor.
“Hm.” It didn’t look like a rock. With a gloved hand, she picked it up.
It wasn’t a rock. It was some kind of chest. It was small, but was definitely a small chest. Its ornate scrollwork and the gold latch made her think it was a woman’s jewelry chest, one she would set on her dresser for decoration.
She tried to lift the latch but the thing was just as stubborn as it had been to leave its dirt home. Reaching into her back pocket, she pulled out a pair of snippers, placed the gold flap in-between the snipper’s mouth and twisted her wrist. The metal gave way.
Heart hammering, Kara licked her lips. She dropped the tool, held the base of the chest in one hand, wrapped her fingers around the lid, and lifted.
When she peered inside, her eyes grew wide, and her mouth dropped open. At the sight of the blood-red stone the size of her big toe cushioned in blue velvet, her hammering heart skidded to a halt.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
There is nothing like a long day in the yard, digging and planting, and adding color to get the creative mind flowing.
While I was out there in the beautiful New England sun getting filthy dirty, I came up with a new writing prompt.
Digging a hole for her pansies. . .
Have fun and let me know what you come up with.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Yup, that post title says it all. You know it's going to be a bad day when you drop and break your laptop before 7 AM.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's what yours truly did this morning. And do you know what I did?
I cried like a baby. I have had this laptop for almost three years. It is my baby and my lifeline to writing. I carry it wherever I go and now it has died a tragic and heart wrenching death. I cannot believe after all this time that I made the mistake of setting it on a chair and it fell and crashed to a hard floor below causing instant and permanent death.
In honor of my little Sony Vaio's passing, I am wearing black. Please feel free to do the same. While you're at it, backup your PCs.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
HA! Didn't you just love my blog post title?
Anyway, Stephanie Giancola, a writer for www.examiner.com, posted the interview she did with me. Check it out here. http://www.examiner.com/x-2533-Romance-Novel-Examiner~y2009m4d14-Romance-author-QA--newly-published-Denise-Robbins
I was going to think of a new topic to start a discussion, but this morning I am pressed for time so I will do that for Wednesday.
In the meantime, I have this for a writing prompt: "Dear Diary,"
Have fun with that one!
The prompt was: "Come here often?"
Okay, I surprised myself on this one and kind of went to town. See what ya think.
"Come here often?"
Jane pulled her attention away from the book she had been reading and looked up to see her new neighbor standing next to her chair, not even an inch of space was between her elbow and the fly of his well-fitted jeans. She immediately jerked the joint to her side and squinted at him.
“Jake.” He offered a stretched out hand. “I’m your new neighbor, Jake.”
Jane eyed the large hand with skepticism. She knew who he was. She would have to be an idiot to not know. His face was plastered all over every news channel and newspaper within 500 miles of Osseo, Minnesota. He was Jake Tyler, business magnate and most eligible bachelor.
When she didn’t take his hand, he pulled out a chair and sat in it next to her. His knee brushed against her thigh, a sizzle of heat shot straight to her face, and she felt herself flush. Sheesh! Did she have to get all hot and bothered just because the most gorgeous man she had ever laid eyes on sat next to her and accidentally touched her?
“You’re Jane Grant, right?” He smiled a wide grin that had his lips twitching up at the corners.
She lifted a brow. How did he know her name? She wasn’t a multi-millionaire, celebrity, or the most eligible bachelorette. So what did he want with her?
“What are you reading?” He reached in front of her and laid his hand on her book.
That was when she finally spoke. “Don’t,” she told him between gritted teeth. She snatched the book off the table, and shoved it into her lap.
“So she does have a voice.” Jake sat back, crossed his arms over his broad chest, and grinned at her. “A very sexy voice,” he told her, leaning in and whispering against her ear.
OMG! Shivers of ecstasy just ran down her spine and went to all spots erogenous. Clutching her book, Jane jumped up from her chair sending it tumbling back and crashing against the wooden floor. “Uh, I’ve got to go.” Her voice quavered. “Nice to meet you.”
She snatched up her purse, spun on her heels, and face-planted straight into Jake’s very hard, very nice chest and warm, strong arms. When she glanced up to see gorgeous blue eyes laughing at her, she shut hers and wished to be invisible.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Don't ask me why, but I saw this line some place and thought it was so cliche the it would be a hoot to post it out here as a writing prompt and see what we come up with.
Prompt: "Come here often?"
Have fun with it! Be creative, unique, and don't forget to grab your reader as if this were the hook of your story.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I know many people did not actually post to the blog but have been doing the exercises along the way. I hope you found these "lessons in love" educational and entertaining. Maybe in the future, the non-posters will feel more comfortable with sharing. Remember, we learn from each others examples.
Yesterday at NHRWA it was so neat to have everyone given the same set of scene structure and them all come up with a totally different outcome. The guide was a carriage with leather seats and windows, mid-afternoon in london in the fall, with dark-haired, beardless Brock as the hero, and Amelia as the heroine.
I have received great feedback on the writing prompts as well so I will keep those going. Besides, they really do make me get into the creative mindset. And if you have a prompt you want to submit feel free to do so.
I have enjoyed this immensely! Are there other topics that would be beneficial for us to do more of these types of interactive exercises?
Feel free to send me your thoughts and ideas.
First, let me just tell you all that we had a blast at the NHRWA meeting yesterday. 90 minutes of discussing love scene writing with lists, and excerpts, not to mention "fun" chocolate lollipops for indpiration.
Ultimately, the goal of thid discussion topic was not just to know how to mechanically write a love scene, but to have fun doing it, be comfortable in writing them by knowing that the scenes are not you but your characters, and then to feel comfortable enough to read them aloud. Reading them aloud truly does make finding the errors along the way much easier. Not to mention that you can tell if someone gets bored or is totally enthralled.
Beyond that, my theory is, if you can read a love scene in front of a group of people, you should be able to give a pitch or introduce yourself and your work to an editor or agent and not get the heebie-jeebies.
I also shared with the group a link to a terrific site I just found while doing this research for alternative phrases. http://home.epix.net/~jlferri/sexrom.html
Day 6 Recap: What do we call "it?"
The first it was the Penis. We came up with quite a few names for this yesterday. Let's see if I can remember them.
manroot (this one cracks me up)
The second one was Penetration.
buried himself inside her
thrust (this word could be used for many things)
drove into her
merged their bodies
She reached for his sweater, tugged it over his head without a thought. Then she remembered his injured arm, tugged it to her lips and soothed it with a kiss. When Sam looked up, she saw Max watching her, desire heated his whiskey eyes turning them flaming amber. Standing, she moved so Max’s knees were pressed against the bed. With swift movements, she undid his buckle, unzipped his jeans, and unleashed his arousal.
Wrapping her fingers around him, Max moaned as she stroked him, felt the silky strength. Then she pushed him back so he landed on the soft bed, rid him of the clothing that was around his ankles, and straddled him.
With her forehead pressed against his, Sam whispered a question. “What do you intend to do with that weapon?”
Max laughed, and before he stopped, he shifted. In the blink of an eye, Sam was on her back, Max on his knees positioned between her thighs. He was so handsome, and strong, and overwhelming, she thought, as his lips met hers. As she opened her mouth to deepen the kiss, Max entered her with one smooth thrust.
“Ohhh,” she murmured.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Day 6 - Part 2: Use ALL five of the senses. Touch - Taste - Smell - See - Hear
“Don’t you use all the senses when you’re making love?”
Use all the character’s senses. Show sound, sight, smell, and touch, as well as the hero and heroine’s physical reactions to make their coming together emotionally dimensional. Using all the senses will pull the reader into what the characters are feeling. Remember, the reader wants to experience it too.
Don’t forget the scenery. Are your characters sharing their first kiss in the moonlight at the ocean or the childhood bedroom of the heroine where the bed is dressed in a pink canopy and covered with stuffed animals? What do they hear, see, and smell in the background?
"Why go through all this trouble?"
1. Because you want to show the reader what is happening, allow them to get a visual through your words. We want to see, be drawn into what the characters are feeling, how her skin feels, if his chest hair tickles his nose.
2. Lovemaking is sensual, not just physical. Are the Boston Red Sox playing in the background or do they have Barry White playing in the background? At the sound of the bat cracking against a baseball does the hero drive in for his own "homer?"
Exercise: Show a love scene from BOTH sides using all senses from the hero POV and all senses from the heroine's POV.
This should be loads of fun. Be creative in the place if you want. Sometimes a different place, other than a bed, can make it easier when it comes to incorporating more senses.
Friday, April 10, 2009
WARNING - This exercise may push your comfort zone.
Love scene writing Day 6. Let's talk about "it."
Before you begin, let me apologize if this gets tricky for some folks, but this is fiction not real-life. This is not you on a stage showing the world. It is your characters. No inhibitions in fiction.
Some of our examples have shown "it", but now we want to really discuss "it."
It? What it? The "it" I am referring to is two different things. The first one you have to have in order to achieve the second.
Are you confused yet, or just saying, "Tell us what it is!"
The first it is the penis. GASP! She said it. Actually, no, I wrote it. And guess what? You will too in your book. Hey! We're writers. We do it and write about it. That's my slogan.
Part 1: What do you call "it?" Here's a tip. Ask your spouse or boyfriend. I will bet you dollars to donuts they have a pet name.
Exercise: List 5 examples of what you could call it in your manuscript.
Now that we have taken care of the hard part (oops! no pun intended), let's talk about what we do with it.
Part 2: What do you call the "act" of doing it? Example: He buried himself inside her.
Exercise: List 5 terms for the act of penetration you might use.
The final act (OMG! I am cracking myself up!) is to write a snippet that shows hero and heroine doing it and how you refer to it without using the words that begin with P.
Day 5 Recap: The focus of this lesson was to talk about the "Big O." To talk about it from both his and her perspective.
Exercise 1: List 5 examples of the heroine "getting hers". (You may not use any of the 3 commonly used terms I mentioned above.)
· convulsed around him
· ripples of ecstasy flooded through her
· she cried out with unabashed abandon
· screamed in ecstasy
· wave after wave of rapture
Exercise 2: List 5 examples of the hero "getting his". (You may not use any of the 3 commonly used terms I mentioned above.)
· shuddered and convulsed
· cry of satisfaction
· soared over the edge
· plunged over the crest
· exploded within her
Exercise 3: Write an excerpt, just a small one, that shows the hero and/or heroine reaching that pinnacle. Same rule applies.
When her thighs quivered against his hips and her eyes glazed, Lucas drove into her, buried himself deep within her heat. She came in a cry of ecstasy, her gaze never leaving his, as he pulled back and slammed into her again. The rhythm of her pulsating muscles clamped around him and sucked him in. She milked him wave after wave until he shuddered and convulsed and then she pumped her hips and rode him again until he collapsed on top of her.
Day 5 - Part 2 Recap: Love scenes are never just rustling sheets and heavy breathing. They include two people revealing more about themselves through their thoughts, action, and even dialogue.
The assignment for part 2 was to give an example of a love scene with dialogue.
Here is mine: This is actually after it has started.
Jake sat up, grabbed Charley’s bare shoulders, and flipped their positions. Breathing rapidly, he spoke. “You’re going to end it too soon,” he whispered in a husky voice.
Charley giggled. “I want it fast.”
His eyes went wide. “Not that fast, Shugar.”
Shugar? “Mmm.” She liked the sound of that. Wow! The tug of her nipple between his teeth sent shivers and heat through her. When he suckled one breast and squeezed the other, she arched up wanting more, raked her fingers into his short chestnut hair, and moaned.
Grabbing his head, she tugged him to her face so she could kiss him, thoroughly. As their tongues danced, Charley wrapped her legs around Jake in a plea for more. She wanted him. Now!
Jake chuckled then purred in her ear. “What’s your favorite lollipop?”
She blinked in surprise, trying to figure out if Jake just asked what she thought. “Lollipop?” She rasped out the word because his hand had just slid into her shorts and her mind swirled.
“Mm. My favorite is a Tootsie Pop.”
He was sliding down her body, taking her shorts with him. When he spoke again, his breath was hot against the tiny patch of hair between her legs. “Know why?”
Charley didn’t know, didn’t care. She just did not want him to stop stroking her.
“Go ahead, Charley, ask me why.”
“Wh – why?” She managed to ask on a breath of air as he sent one finger inside her. She thought she had been wet before.
“Because I like to see how many licks it takes to get to the . . .”She covered her eyes with her hands as Jake’s tongue slid inside her then found her button, and oh – my – freaking –.
And yes, I will leave you hanging there. :-)
Needed a boost to get me going when I get back from a 1 PM appointment. So here it is.
Prompt: The postcard said, "Greetings from . . ."
Hehe! I like this one.
Share what you come up with.
Had to put this out here because of an interesting thing that happened to me. So let's do a quick blog about book covers.
Do you judge a book by its cover? Do you judge how good it is by the cover? Do you judge what genre type of book it is by its cover?
The reason I ask this, is because of an invitation I was extended and then was later rescinded all based on the cover of my book. First, for those of you who are asking yourselves, "What does the cover look like?" Check out the left column of my blog or go to www.deniserobbins.com and voila, there it is.
Now that you have seen it. What do you think? Is it offensive? Does it make you think it is a "smut" book? Is it any worse than what you see on television or in-person at the beach?
Personally, I love it. It leaves everything to the imagination and lets you know that the story has swimming and diving and sharks in it. At no time do you see the woman's face because I don't want you to know what she looks like. I want you to use your imagination. Honestly, the only thing I want you to know is that she likes pink. . .see her fins. :-)
Now that I have asked my questions, let me tell you what happened. Yesterday afternoon I was asked if I wanted to be on a community TV show and talk about my book. WAHOO! Yeah!
So I emailed the woman who contacted me the information she requested, one of which she wanted to see the book cover. Well, about 15 minutes later I received the following message back.
I am so sorry Denise, but I am not going to be able to have you as the guest. My viewers will have a heart attack. I could get away with it if the cover was not so sexual because the story sounds fabulous. I have a lot of viewers that are of the older generation and they let me know what they like and dislike. Please do not feel bad but perhaps when you next book comes out let me check out the cover and that might work. We always show the book on the air as you are talking about it.
Notice that her take was that my cover was "sexual." For the record, I am a pretty easy going person and thought her email was hysterical. It was the first negative comment I have received about the cover. Most people think it is eye-catching and gorgeous. Me included! Yes, the book is a romantic-suspense, therefore it does contain love scenes, but so do books by Jonathan Kellerman, David Baldacci, Janet Evanovich, etc.
Here's a question. Do you think if David Baldacci had that same cover on his book that anyone would have thought it was "sexual?"
So, do you judge a book by its cover? Should you?
Share your thoughts.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Day 5: The big O
In a love scene, the pinnacle is reaching the almighty climax. It's the same thing with your manuscript overall, right?
But what do you call the Big O? How do you describe it? Is it described differently for the hero than it is for the heroine?
The 3 most commonly used terms are climax, release, explode. There, I said them so you don't have to.
Your assignments should you choose to accept them are as follows.
Exercise 1: List 5 examples her the heroine "getting hers". (You may not use any of the 3 commonly used terms I mentioned above.)
Exercise 2: List 5 examples her the hero "getting his". (You may not use any of the 3 commonly used terms I mentioned above.)
Exercise 3: Write an excerpt, just a small one, that shows the hero and/or heroine reaching that pinnacle. Same rule applies.
Because of the emails and posts I have received, I decided to add a second part to today's discussion. Apparently, this topic is not actually discussed openly very often. Really? You would think it would be a huge topic, especially for romance writers like me.
Okay, so I have toyed with the next topic and have actually written two other posts, but thought I would still ease you into this whole love scene thing. However, be aware that after today the next few exercises may "push your comfort zone." You have been forewarned. :-)
Day 5 - Part 2: Let's talk about talk, dialogue.
Huh? Talk during a love scene? "No way. Isn't it all rustling sheets and heavy breathing?"
What about laughing? "You want my characters to laugh while making love?"
Just don't let your heroine laugh at the wrong time in the scene. That could cause shrinkage. ew!
Be honest. Haven't you laughed while in the act? Or talked about something with your partner while you are flowing with the motion in the waterbed?
Dialogue in sex can be useful. Use it to reveal information about your characters. Too much talking can get your characters in trouble with each other. It creates conflict between the characters or clues the reader in on the conflict between them. Talking during sex may reveal the characters attitudes toward sex and sexuality. Heck, tell a joke to lighten the mood.
Exercise: Write a love scene that uses dialogue while in the act.
Have fun! Can't wait to see what you write. I'll write the recap later today.
Day 4 Recap: Let's talk about "where" your characters make love.
So your assignment was two-fold.
Part 1 - Identify 5 places your characters could make love (none of them having a bed).
You've seen several responses. All GREAT! It's so much fun thinking outside the box or in this case the bed. Now, here is my contribution.
Airplane bathroom (Mile-high club)
Against the wall
An underground tunnel
Part 2 - Give an example of a scene with your characters making love anyplace but in a bed.
Don't ya just hate only getting excerpts?? It's such a teaser. :-)
This is just after the hero and heroine had dinner and cleaned up. Guess where they are??
“Jake.” She whispered his name and it was all he could do not to shove her against the counter, strip her naked, and slam into her. Charley needed comfort and if this were the only way she would take it from him then he would give it. For now, physical comfort was enough.
She reached up and grabbed him at the back of the neck, pulled his face to hers, and she kissed him. His finger was wet and she tightened around him. He felt himself get even harder. She turned in his arms, pushed at the hem of his shirt, and the next thing he knew her tongue flicked out at his nipple. His eyes widened and his stomach tightened at the new and quivering sensation.
When she moved to his other nipple, her hands went to his zipper. Okay! He undid his own pants, letting them drop to the floor still wrapped around his ankles, and in the next instant, he had Charley stripped and sitting on the counter. He feasted on her breasts, capturing one nipple in between his lips, his tongue teasing it to an excited little nub. His fingers tweaked the other nipple caused it to rise and beg for his mouth.
Her head flung back and hit the cupboard.
“Oops.” Not good. He needed more of her. Wrapping her legs around his waist, he pulled her from the counter, and spun around forgetting that his pants were still around his ankles. Not wanting to fight to get them off, he splayed Charley across the table.
Sliding his arms up under her back so she didn’t bruise, Jake slammed into her. Charley fisted around him, and she ignited. She moaned and writhed, tightened her wrapped legs around him. She pulled him in and under her spell. His head swam as he felt her climax build. The muscles in her legs started to quiver. He thrust into her hard then withdrew slow, feeling the tug of her as he retreated, then she opened and welcomed as he thrust again. It was like coming home.
Continuing the love scene discussion - Day 4: Let's talk about where your characters make love.
Do you plan where your characters are going to make love? Does it need to be a bed? With bed being the most comfortable location, why have sex in other place?
The answer is that, in fiction as well as in real life, it's usually not a premeditated decision. "Because it's there," is a typical reply.
Truthfully, that's probably pretty accurate. Let's say your characters are so overwhelmed with desire they have to pull over on the side of the road, or maybe the hero is so thrilled and overwhelmed by emotion that the heroine is alive he has to take her then and there, wherever "there" may be.
Come on, admit it. You have probably had sex in at least one or more places and there was no bed in sight. I mean seriously, who has not at least thought of "doing it" in a a glass-enclosed elevator? Well, okay, maybe that's just me. :-)
Wait! Don't you remember playing "truth or dare" when you were in college on a drunken night with your guy and girl friends and of couse, one of the questions was "Where was the strangest place you did the deed?" Be honest. I am so remembering what some of the answers were.
But that gets me to the next exercise. This is a 2 part exercise.
#1: List 5 places where your characters could make love. (None of them include a bedroom or a bed)
#2: Show an example of your hero and heroine making love some place besides a bed.
Good luck and I can't wait to see your list!
Here is an image of the front side of the T-shirt from my new friends at http://www.youdontsaynotogirls.com/.
Kim and Deb are working on my T-shirts that you all voted on "You don't say no to girls . . .who do it and write about it"
Day 3 Recap:
So your goal was to write a scene where the hero and heroine kiss WITHOUT using the word "kiss" in the paragraph. Even if you did not share it could you do it?
What words did you use to describe the mouth, lips, tongue?
Here are some examples that you may have come up with:
- captured her lips with his
- took her mouth with hungry urgency
- tasted her sweetness
- sipped from her lips
- tongue darting inside her mouth
- entangled with hers
- his tongue found hers
- reclaimed her mouth
- sweet invasion
Here is my rough example from my WIP:
“Uh, Gilly.”“Hm,” she answered, flicking her tongue against the flat brown disc of his nipple. The quiver that rippled through him sent shivers over her body. With her free arm, she reached her hand up and entwined her fingers in his silky black hair, and tugged his head down. When his face was within an inch of hers, she leaned up and met his mouth with hers. The gentle, warm nature of their embrace was intoxicating. Lucas parted his lips and her tongue darted out, teased, and explored the taste of him. When his tongue tangled with hers a hungry urgency to claim him invaded her senses. When he pulled back and peered down at her, she was breathless and his chest was heaving.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Can you tell I did very little writing on my WIP today?
The prompt was: She looked through the telescope. . .
Here is my quip to finish it:
She looked through the telescope on her back deck and saw. . .she blinked to clear the fuzz from her eyes. It didn’t help. She saw pirates? Jane flipped the telescope around, wiped the lens with her shirt and then peered through it a second time. On the bow of some big ship stood a man in tall black boots and one of those puffy poet shirts, his hair whipping back behind him.
Jane stepped back and squeezed her fist against her chest. Okay, she was losing her mind. That was the only explanation. This was 2009. There was no such thing as pirates. Once she stopped hyperventilating, she pressed one eye to the telescope again and this time her heart jumped out of her chest and did a jig before it leapt back in and raced out of control. He winked at her! The pirate, his dark hair waving, turned his head, and looked straight in her direction. Then one lavender eye winked at her! Now he was grinning.
Could he see her? No way. She was the one with the telescope, not him. But, but. . .knees weak, vision blurred, her world went black.
Day 3: Let's talk about Kissing!
What is used to kiss? Yes, I'm talking about parts of the body.
Lips, mouth, tongue. Heck! A really great kiss ususally involves hands and body contact.
Remember that movie "Bull Durham" with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon? Remember his line about kissing?
". . . and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days."
I don't know about you all but that made my toes curl.
Show a kiss. Use the lips, mouth, tongue, etc. Make toes curl!
But here is the kicker. You cannot just say he kissed her or she kissed him. Uh-uh! Use another word besides "kiss".
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
Recap day 2: Sexual tension is more important than sex itself. “The buildup makes the actual act that much sweeter.”
Your assignment: What leads those characters to sexual tension?
Yes, you guessed it! The characters conflict leads them to sexual tension.
The hero and heroine are physically drawn to each other, but the fact that they are enemies, or in competition keep them apart. The stronger the conflict, the higher the sexual tension and when the love scene finally does happen, it is more meaningful and exciting. Whatever you use as a conflict to build sexual tension, make sure it is part of the plot.
In my case, the logline for my book It Happens in Threes says it all. "Once burned, twice learned, did she dare trust again?"
The hero had walked out on the heroine before, would he do it again? There is more than the heroine's trust issue, but you get the idea.
Tina-Sue from Author Promoting Authors blog just posted information about It Happens in Threes. Stop by and leave a comment. http://authorspromotingauthors.blogspot.com/2009/04/it-happens-in-threes-denise-robbins.html
I needed a little boost so I thought I would toss out a writing prompt for you as well.
Here it is: She looked through the telescope . . .
See what you come up with and share your hooky sentence or paragraph.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
First, let's start with yesterday's post. The 3 elements of a love scene are. . .
Place, action, and emotion. The most important element being emotion just like Ceri mentioned in her comment.
What your characters do and where they do it, is not as important as why they do it and how it changes them and their relationship afterward. For a love scene to be satisfying it must change the relationship between the hero and heroine. It can bring them together, pull them apart, make them question the other person's motives, even their own motives. Those emotions help propel the story forward.
Here is an example from my book, It Happens in Threes. This is the beginning of the first love scene between the hero and heroine.
“Hmmm. . .my favorite idea is. . .” His sentence trailed off as his mouth crushed down on hers. The kiss sent heat streaking through her, overwhelming in its intensity.
She knew she should protest – needed to – couldn’t – really didn’t want to.
This was a mistake of gigantic proportions. They were friends, not lovers.
Can you see how the heroine was feeling?
Next tidbit: Sexual tension is more important than the act itself. Remember anticipation makes the physical act that much sweeter.
So the question here is. . .What leads to that sexual tension between your hero and heroine?
Give some examples you've used in your own writing.
Monday, April 6, 2009
In honor of the fact that I am going to be presenting a discussion on "Writing Love Scenes" Saturday, April 11 at NHRWA, I thought I would post some prep work to lead up to writing that sizzling hot scene.
First, let me start by saying love scenes or romances do exist outside of the romance genre. Let's make that clear for everyone. Pick up a book by Jonathan Kellerman, David Baldacci, John Sanford, Janet Evanovich, and you will find romances or love scenes in their books.
That said, let's get to the basics. What are the basic elements of a love scene?
No, the answer is not, "insert Tab A into slot B."
Hint: There are 3 basic elements.
Next question. Of those 3 elements, which one is the most important? Why?
Post your thoughts and we'll chat about them.
Okay, so I have this very cool robot technology in my next story, but I have to decide what it is going to look like in its "non-morphed" stages. Yes, it is a morphing robot.
This robot will move on land, climb buildings, go airborne, and is submersible. Its "non-morphed" stage is on land. The requirement is for it to be no bigger than a softball and has to morph into something 1 cm.
So, what would a robot look like if you could hold it in the palm of your hand? I'm hoping to come up with an idea that at first glance you would not notice it was mechanical.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Ahh! The weekend is over. Did you get to enjoy some of the spring weather? Or did you stay indoors and write all weekend? HA!
Saturday I fought with my love scene off and on. Then the whole chapter ended up longer than anticipated. But, my editor will like that. And dad, minus the red marks, liked the chapter so that's cool.
I spent several hours Sunday doing outdoor clean up. I trimmed a bunch of stuff, moved leaves that I didn't get to in the fall, and saw tulips, pansies, and primrose all coming back up. Hoping for fruit on my trees this year.
After all that fresh air, I came inside and wrote. I actually managed to write about four pages in the next chapter and am hoping to get it finished today so I can take it and the love scene to critique tomorrow.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Remember the prompt from the other day:
The day started off pretty much like any other until. . .
The day started off pretty much like any other until the unthinkable made it a day Jane would never forget. The office called and their computer systems had been hacked. All her customers were in a state of panic that someone stole their secure information. In a rush to get to work, she didn’t see the truck that piled into her car and left it totaled and her stranded in the middle of the intersection. To top that all off, there was a strange man standing at her door with flowers and a box of chocolates claiming she had a date with him. Her mother, no doubt, had a hand in the sweaty man with the bad comb over and the ugliest suit she had ever seen.
What did you come up with? Did you hook the reader? Sometimes these little writing prompts are so much fun!!
Friday, April 3, 2009
Okay, so after meeting the women that own www.youdontsaynotogirls.com, I decided I wanted a T-shirt made to reflect romance writing without it saying romance writing.
Now what we have to do, with your help, is narrow the list to 2 at the most 3 sayings. So here are your choices. Please vote and let me know what you think.
The front of the shirt will say "You don't say no to girls"
On the back it will say any of these, unless you have a better suggestion:
. . .who create happy endings
. . .who provide a great climax
. . .who tell tales
. . .who keep you up all night
. . .capture you cover to cover
. . .with novel ideas
. . .who can make you blush
. . .who do it and write about it
Let me know which if any you like or make another suggestion. Remember, it is about romance writing.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Yesterday's writing prompt was so fun, I thought I would give another one.
Prompt: The day started off pretty much like any other . . .
Don't forget to share what you come up with. Remember to make it a hook!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I thought I would share how my 3-day event went last weekend.
First day I only sold one book but it was to a woman who came looking for me in particular. That was neat! Lesson learned . . .it is all in the presentation. People were confused by my chocolate and book display. I kept getting "Is this a diet book?" HA!
The ladies that own www.youdontsaynotogirls.com in the booth next to me gave me a good display suggestion. The next day after plastering pictures of myself next to the display and wearing one of the other vendors T-shirts, I sold 15 or so. And believe it or not, I got people eyeballing the photo, then me, and back again. Then, and I am dead serious here, they would say "Is that you?" or "You look much younger in person than in the photo." Okay, the young part was cool! :-)
Sunday, I think I sold about 10. Not bad, considering my feet were killing me!! Had one woman, a retired English teacher, when she realized I was a NH author flip out with excitement. She stood in the middle of the aisle and yelled to everyone that they should buy my book because I was a local author - who cares what kind of book. Excited is just too weak a word for her enthusiasm.
Another woman, bought two books from me on Saturday (one for her and one for her sister). Then on Sunday she sent her daughter to buy a third book for her neighbor's birthday.
My favorite part was watching the guys try to pretend they weren't oggling the cover art. I even had two guys literally standing in the middle of the aisle between booths staring as if their eyes were going to bug out of their sockets and drooling. I stepped out and asked, "Do you read?" My thought was "hey, if you like the cover, you'll love what's inside." They were too embarrassed at being caught oggling. TOO FUNNY!
All in all, I had a blast.
PS - I sold a ton of chocolate lollipops.
Okay - so here's my shot at yesterday's writing prompt.
Prompt: When she discovered. . .
Answer: When she discovered her date wore pink women's underwear with frills, Jane did not stick around to find out what else he may or may not have. She bugged out. Running for the door in high heels, she never even glanced back at the deep voice that yelled for her to wait. In spite of running short of breath, she never even considered stopping until the deep voice yelled, "Stop, police."
She paused at the door and looked over her shoulder. Sure enough, the big man in pink lace panties stood there holding what appeared to be a police badge. She gulped and started to laugh. Then he moved, coming toward her.
"No flippin' way." Jane turned and bolted out the door and down the cement steps. Let him chase after her in public in those barely-there undies.