Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s Alive!

A few weeks back I met with my agent and her interns to discuss my book, Grotesque.  One of those interns told me that the manuscript reminded her of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and suggested I read it for inspiration.

So I did.

Boy, let me tell you, I was way off base about how this book was going to play out.  Turns out the various movies about Frankenstein and his monster may have exaggerated certain details.  As a result, this was what I thought the plot of Frankenstein was:

Wrong-Frankenstein

And here I thought Mel Brooks’ interpretation of the classic tale was super accurate!  (If you haven’t seen Young Frankenstein, you’re missing out).  But no.  As it turns out, the plot of Frankenstein actually goes something like this:

Frankenstein

That being said, what did I think of the book?  Well, it definitely resonated with me.  The subject matter Shelley touches upon is exactly what I want to do with Grotesque.  In a slightly different way.  I mean, my book has just a little bit more action, for starters.  Plus, a happier ending (spoiler alert).  But the themes are all there – loneliness, playing God, desperation for approval and acceptance, the juxtaposition of a humane(ish) monster and monstrous humanity.  It was a really interesting and inspiring read, and I have to thank the intern who recommended it to me.

Shelley also has a way with words.  I particularly enjoyed this sentence:

“I never beheld any thing so utterly destroyed.”

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  I can’t begin to describe the impact those words had on me, especially within the context of the book.  They are perfect in their simplicity, yet they say so much more than you’d expect.  “Utterly destroyed.”  It’s almost foreshadowing, too.  The way so many lives are so utterly destroyed over the course of the book, including those of the creator and the created.

I also underlined a couple vocabulary words I love.  “Indefatigable” and “Purloined.”  Those are great words, aren’t they?  The former means “incapable of being tired out,” and the latter basically means “stole” or “pilfered.”

I’ll wrap up with a line I marked that pretty much sums up everything I want to encapsulate with the character of my Grotesque.  It was spoken by Frankenstein’s monster.

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

Such beautiful words coming from such a horrid creature.  Shelley really could use words as an art form in a way that I can only hope to accidentally achieve from time to time.

Now all that’s left is to take what I have learned from this book and apply it to my newest rewrite of Grotesque.

Wish me luck!

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Title That Indicates I’m Going to be Talking About Romance Novels Again

I’ve been doing some research into romance novels.  This research has stemmed from a renewed attempt to figure out the genre, and how I can produce a work that fits the parameters of same.  In the interest of said research, I read one and a half new romance novels, bringing my total romance novel consumption to about twenty and a half, probably.  Maybe more.  I never stopped to count how many Sherrilyn Kenyon novels I’d read, because I wanted to maintain whatever shred of self respect I had left.

Anyway, at this point I believe I’ve come to some conclusions about a typical romance novel.  “Typical” in this case means “a straight man and a straight woman fall in love despite some obstacle or another.  And there are probably werewolves involved.”  I made notes in my phone.  Before we continue I am issuing a warning that there will be no graphic imagery but there will be sexual content in the writing that follows.  If the idea of this upsets you, stop reading.  I will forgive you!

Okay, here are the notes:

1. Each character must act like they’ve never before seen a member of the opposite sex that they were attracted to.

Match Made in Heaven

2. There must be a constant inner monologue from both characters’ perspectives about how attractive they find each other.  Remember to really beat that into the reader’s head.  I have to wonder what one person is doing while the other is weighing out all the pros and cons of having sex with them.  All I can think of is a scenario that goes something like this:

Offer-of-Sex

3. Women must be saved from their emotions.

4. Men must curse their emotions (in that said emotions lead to relationships, which men either fear or believe they don’t deserve due to their dark and brooding past).

5. (This is exactly how I typed it into my phone last night) A man waiting for consent before doing a sex is super gentlemanly and attractive.  If he both asks for consent and is ridiculously hot, then it is ok to have sex with him within 24 hours of meeting him.  A lasting, loving relationship is sure to ensue.

Note on #5: I have read two novels so far that treat consent like a novel concept.  The first did it horribly wrong, where the male lead – the love interest! – was undeniably assaulting the female lead, but she decided it was okay because, hey, at least he’s hot and deep down inside she really did want this, didn’t she?  I was appalled.  The second got a pass because the female lead had been raised in an emotionally abusive environment with people who constantly belittled her, so she was truly learning that consent was a thing she could expect and ask for.  Still I mean… let’s just get past this, okay?  I think it’d be a great help if romance novels just took consent as a given, and didn’t tout it as some sort of proof of the man’s character.  “He didn’t rape me, so he must be a gentleman!” just doesn’t work.

6. Men are always upset (at least once per book) by the unfortunate combination of their stiff and/or tight jeans and their erections.  It’s super uncomfortable for them, and the reader definitely needs to know that.  It is crucial to the plot.  The sexy, sexy plot.

Manhood

7. No butt stuff.  Butt stuff is neither romantic nor a symbol of twue wuv.  Only oral and vaginal sex are loving forms of sexual expression.  Reading the previous statements may very well have made you uncomfortable, and therein lies the root of the problem.  Sex with a stigma attached to it is not sexy.  Therefore it is not mentioned, hinted at, or overtly used in any way.

8. Every eleven words, at least one character thinks about how much they want to have sex/pictures the love interest naked/is actively having sex with that love interest.

9. A real man knows it’s his duty to bring a woman to orgasm before he has his own climax.  That’s just common courtesy.  Conversely, the woman does not owe the man pleasure.  His orgasm is not brought on by her actions, but is rather his reward for seeing to her needs first.  And because she’s hot.  He gets to orgasm because she is very attractive, as his inner monologue should have pointed out several times already.

So there you have it.  The results of my study.  If you were thinking about writing a steamy romance of your own, now’s your chance.  You have a handy little guide right here.

I’ll be writing soon about my second rewrite of Grotesque!  Ta!

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