Adrienne Kama

writing horror vs. erotic romance

People have told me that they've read books I've written and had nightmares. This fills me with such joy. But I've also been told by readers that they've read something I wrote under my pseudonym and had to go find their husband after they finished the book. This also makes me happy. Some people think it's odd that the same person who inspires nightmares can also inspire "happy endings," but to me, there's not much different in the technique behind writing horror and writing erotic romance.

This is my blog, so what I'm saying here isn't a fact. It's just my opinion.

With that said, the biggest thing I have to do when writing a story is make the reader feel whatever emotion I want them to feel. It breaks down into three things:

1. Dialogue. You can tell so much about a character by what they're saying and how they're saying it. Are they typically an eloquent speaker who is suddenly spitting out staccato sentences? Are they swearing suddenly? There are readers who hate seeing cuss words in a book, but when you're writing a book you have to write as true to life as possible. If someone is being chased by a ghost, they're not going to say, "darn it ghost, you leave me alone!" I have a scene in Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost, and the Demon where Zoe and her friend Nora are chased by a ghost (in the original version it was a demon). When they finally get to safety, Nora says something like, "What the fuck was that?" Why, because you swear after being chased by something dead. I don't swear in real life, but under those circumstances I would.

2. But it's about more than trying to create great dialogue. I try to give the scene the right ambience. And I try to describe it enough so the reader can practically feel something creeping up on them as they read. I want the reader to feel like they can smell my world; reach out and touch it. My book should be playing like a movie in their head while they read. In Doomsday, there are a few pretty scary scenes that happen underground. Though that's kind of a cheat. So I did a few above ground scary scenes too. At Triune, on the streets, in the abandoned amusement park. The ambience has to be there for the reader to get scared. I remember watching "The Ring" years ago. That was one creepy movie. What made it even creepier was the atmosphere. There was an overall feel of darkness about that movie, which made it even scarier. 

3. Number three is the most important factor for me. I have to express how my characters feel. I can't just say they're scared, I have to show the reader how scared they are. In Doomsday, when Remy and Vincent are in the Underground and the dead people start to wake up, tough Remy lets Vincent hold her hand. Why? Because she's terrified. Dead people should stay dead, as far as she's concerned. She sweats, she wants to run, she wants to scream. Vincent's demeanor has changed, too. He's whispering to her and he's trying to get them out of there as fast as possible. If the reader doesn't see how scared your character is, they won't be scared either.

When it comes to writing erotic romance, all three points are the same, except the goal is titillation instead of fear. When writing erotic romance, getting the three details right was more of a challenge for me than when I write horror. Most of my erotic romance books are basically BDSM books (without the S&M), so getting it right is like walking a fine line. When I write Stella, hands down the most important thing I do is express how much she's enjoying herself. If I don't make sure the reader knows how happy she is, some of the scenes could make them uncomfortable. And you never want to make the reader uncomfortable.

The dialogue for the male characters has to be spot on, too. I don't worry if I'm saying something a man would actually say. What's most important to me is if I'm saying something I woman would want to hear. It's all fantasy and all about making the female readers happy. 

Atmosphere is a biggie, too. In the second Stella book, Stella goes with Jake and Dev to a fetish masquerade ball. Originally, Stella gets upset and they end up leaving early. But two of my friends test read the book and weren't fans of Stella and the boys leaving the party early. I had built up the scene so much that they wanted her to stay and have a good time. I ended up adding the scene where the three go up that staircase to the private room. And you know what, my friends were right. The scene is so much better with Stella having a good time.

So that's the world according to me. At least when it comes to writing fiction. :-)

Happy Reading!




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