Where to start writing a book? It’s a tricky question which I’m sure doesn’t have one correct answer whatever the word count you have in mind. I’m equally sure every author has different methods for coming up with plot, characters and the location of their story. So I’ve been pondering on my own methods for writing erotic romances and I’d love to hear other people’s comments, strategies and opinions on what works best for them and what they enjoy reading and of course writing.
The first line is a good place to start. It has to be done, it’s pretty essential. One option is to throw the reader immediately into the story – The sleek, black car pulled alongside the lone girl, with the windows tinted and the stark glow of the headlamps it resembled a panther hunting its prey – or the first line could be a statement - Loneliness is gaping hole just waiting to be filled but like a key in a lock only the right person will fit. Another option is to dive straight in with dialogue – “You cow,” Sarah screamed down the stairs. ”How could you sleep with him when you know what he did to me?”
Opening line for me is one of the first things I dream up for a new novel, but not the absolute first. More often than not I begin with a stand-alone scene popping in and out of my head. Stephanie Meyer famously visualised Bella and her vampire Edward lying in the meadow then worked the story around this scene. The meadow was midway through “Twilight” and I related to her method as it’s something I do a lot. (Unfortunately I haven’t got the multi-million dollar film deals to go with the ideas! Hey-hoo!)
For example in my first novel with Total-E-Bound, Thief, I kept thinking of a girl sneaking away from a guy she'd just had a one night stand with holding his car keys. I liked playing with the idea in my head. Why she was there in the first place? What she was hoping to achieve? Why she had become a thief? It was the start of something that grew into a complex plot, a whole load of wild emotions and even wilder sex. Of course, it needs a happy ending too, not easy when the heroine has pissed the hero off in a major way, again, those branches had to grow and twist so that Kat and John could walk off into the sunset - well sort of!
The seeds for That Filthy Book were scattered randomly rather than neatly sewn. I guess that's because it's a co-author novel. Natalie sent me the first chapter, asked if I could nurture it, persuade the characters to peek from the soil and luckily I could. A bit of attention, understanding and soon Karen and Jacob were thriving and reaching for the sky. This novel has had nothing but praise from reviewers including comments like 'every woman should read this book' so we certainly feel that our seeds grew to be strong and proud.
Harita was a seed that I had to plant on the other side of the world from where I live in the UK. I threw this little acorn all the way to Mumbai - with the wonders of the Internet - and did some research into Hindu weddings. From the information I gleaned and the images I saw grew ideas for an arranged marriage with a Dominant husband just waiting to be given permission to show his desires. I really enjoyed watching this one grow, tending it, encouraging it, and letting the shoots and leaves flourish. The Unwholesome Adventures of Harita turned into an elegant tree with vivid flowers and many layers to its bark.
For Orchestrating Manoeuvres I picked the first line - I flopped back on my mountain of pillows, gasping, writhing and shoving Enrique—my new thick, black Rampant Rocker vibrator—into my pussy higher and harder. – this then leads on to more details about the protagonist’s situation and in turn sets up the story to be a menage a trois sex fest!
When the seeds are in place comes the really good bit - thinking up the sex scenes. I love the first time a ‘crazy for one another couple/threesome’ gets it together after that volcanic build-up of sexual tension. It’s such a release, so explosive and it’s all so new, every sense is overwhelmed and because I often write in first person the reader is really there, really experiencing what it’s like to be having wild, delicious sex with a hot, hard - in these instances, soldier, husband, Dom, and two seriously sexy musicians – Phew!
So that’s how I nurture my story seeds into books. I give them time to germinate, then nurture them until they burst to life in my imagination and then by adding a pinch of real life experience, a dose of inspiration and a location which is a feast for the senses I watch it reach for the sky. Writing a story is a very personal journey, sometimes it overwhelms me in days or weeks, other times it lurks around for months and years.
I'd love to hear from anyone who shares my idiosyncrasies when it comes to writing, thoughts, comments and ideas are always very welcome! I’ll be hanging around to chat although probably in a different time zone!
Lily Harlem x