Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heat levels in my writing ...

Heat Warnings. Do you need them? Would running across a particularly steamy scene throw you into fits? Do some descriptions make you squirm? (In a good way or bad way? LOL )

I have to admit there aren't too many things my characters haven't done. That doesn't mean I'm always comfortable with their behavior. Nevertheless, I like my scenes detailed and complete. I grew up with closed door sex in movies and books, and I feel cheated now if an author doesn't write the whole book. I had an editor tell me once that sentences that trailed off with ellipsis were an author just being too lazy to write the sentence. (I was guilty big time and shudder to think it's still one of my favorite punctuation marks.) I am guilty of day dreaming and thinking in ellipsis too. So is that lazy thinking and writing ... or just being unable to complete a thought or scene? I'm working on being specific. Telling the detail, drawing the picture, evoking the emotions.

What do I read? Believe me when I say everything from beginning writing (I am an editor) to literary works. After reading satisfying sexual romances by Nora Roberts and others like Linda Howard, I found I enjoyed steamy romance. When I first read Christine Feehan I was enthralled by the level of emotion the love scenes between her characters could evoke. I liked the mental connection--perhaps because I am one of those annoying women who insists on knowing what my lover is thinking at every moment--it satisfied a need in me. So I immersed myself in all things Christine Feehan. Later, Karen Marie Moning, and Kresley Cole rocked my world. I discovered Lori Foster. She certainly upped the sexual detail and ramped up my engines. Not that I can't go back to a less detailed or descriptive sexual scene, but why would I want to after Lora Leigh? I forayed into the works of Laurell K. Hamilton, JR Ward, Opal Carew and others who write erotic romances. Then I went on to erotic menage romance. Not much can make me blush any more!  My curiosity escalated from there. Now the sexual intensity of my work is a reflection of the books I read. 

I ask you, if an author is describing a particularly awe inspiring action or scene, would we as readers want her to skim over it or suggest, "Well you know what I mean? or you've seen or done that before?" Why write it? Don't describe an elephant if you can just state the large gray animal in the room is an elephant. No? What if the elephant is weary, with tear stains ... is it looking for it's baby, or is it an old adult, rugged and scarred? The description makes the difference. What if the elephant is magical? Or it can make the main character's life different just by the way it moves, or smells, or the sound it makes? Detail is what makes the picture come to life. Painting the picture with words is an author's responsibility to the reader.

I'm also an instant gratification kind of girl. So don't expect my books to be a template of one another. My sex scenes don't occur in the middle. Sometimes I open with a sex scene. "Whew got that out of the way. Now pay attention." LOL Admittedly some language makes me uncomfortable, some scenes make me uncomfortable, but if I care about the characters, I want to go on this journey with them--through the good and the bad, in their pov, with my eyes wide open and with the doors to the bedroom open, too. Yes, some sexual scenes are more titillating than others. Some horror books are scary; some horrifying. But when I read I want to FEEL--every single thing--as if I were in the scene myself! 

Eliza March writes male/male/female menages; male/female/male menages; and traditional male/female romance. On a heat scale of 0-5 hers are in the 3-5 range for description, action, and language. 


  1. Cool post, Eliza. I think that sometimes it is the characters who dictate the heat level, but I generally find that no matter where I start out, plan wise, my characters tend to heat things up far faster & kinkier than I would have imagined! I also put the pedal to the metal, graphically, and use those four letter words that sometimes put a reader on edge. Just had a reader comment on that, but when I use those words, I use them with lovers as good terms, not derogatory ones. And I agree, I had plenty of "cut to the surf", "cut to sunset", and so on. Give me all the good stuff, front and center!

  2. True so true. Those four letter words can be sexy, crude or loving depending who's saying them and how. ;-)

  3. I love that your books may open with sex scenes. I am a writer who writes erotica and I am working to have my first book published. I also don't want to fit in with the norm of writing template books. I have learned to research whatever I write. Although my writing is fiction I still want them to read true.

    1. If you break the rules you may have to be prepared to suffer the consequences. Standard romance readers have expectations when they think they're reading a romance. They get into the rut established by huge romance publishers who out of discovering what works for them have created a template their authors are expected to follow. As a result they've also trained the reader. ;-)