Monday, March 4, 2024

I don't seek to write tropes, but I end up writing them anyway

 

Some tropes and storytelling elements resonate strongly with many readers, so I often see them used to market books. When I’m writing a story, though, I don't consciously think about tropes, and I don't aim to include or exclude any of them.

The stories I write explore some themes and conventions often, though. The romantic trope I use most often is "Friends to Lovers." I find I can write more convincingly about a couple who has an existing dynamic and I enjoy writing about how friendships can change.

I don’t hate any tropes, but there are some that my writing hasn't touched on so far. In science fiction and fantasy, I haven't written a "Chosen One" storyline. In the real world, I find the background of extraordinary people is often already compelling story. No predetermination is necessary.

I also haven’t written a story in which two characters in a romantic relationship are "Fated Mates." I prefer to write stories about the reasons why two people may continuously choose to be each other’s partners and how they build a lasting relationship.

Both of these tropes I haven't written rely on fate or predetermination, which I don’t know how to write about in an interesting way. I won’t rule out writing stories with these elements in the future, though! My writing, like the rest of my life, has changed over the years, and I believe it will continue to do so.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Trope-tastic - Love 'Em and Loathe 'Em


 This week at the SFF Seven. we're asking each other which tropes you love to write and which do you loathe?

The tropes I love are pretty easy to identify for anyone who's read more than one of my books. My favorites are:

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Marriage of Convenience/Political Marriage/Marriage of State
  • Forced Proximity
  • He Falls First 
  • Learning to Use magic/special abilities/wrestling own power

 

As for the tropes I loathe? Loathe is a strong word. I'm not sure I loathe any tropes. Ones I'm less fond of are:

  • Second chance (I just don't believe that whatever broke them up the first time won't break them up again)
  • Bully Romance (no no no - toxicity and abuse isn't romantic to me)
  • Fated Mates (hard to make this one work)
  • Faux Medieval Fantasy Worlds (Enough already - and besides medieval times were never like that)
  • Chosen One (yawn)

 

The ones I truly dislike are the damaging ones, like: 

  • Woman in the Refrigerator (women are people, not plot devices)
  • Clumsy Heroine (it's not endearing to me)
  • Racist Cliches (enough said)
  • Bury Your Gays (see Woman in the Refrigerator)
  • Having Kids as the Solution to Happiness (Spoiler: having kids is *hard* - they don't solve your problems or give your life the meaning it lacked)

Friday, March 1, 2024

When Conventions are Worth It

 I haven’t been to a book convention in – a long time. A looooong time. However. I do have a history with cons of all kinds, and so, while I might not be especially qualified to talk about whether book cons are worth it, I do have thoughts.

IMO, a con is worth it if:

You enjoy the premise of the con as a fan. You won’t be making the money you spent on attending the convention. Make sure you’re parting with your hard-earned dollars for a good reason – that being that you are engaging in an experience that brings you joy (outside of selling books).

You’re nominated for an award. Even then, I’m on the fence about this one these days. So many awards are problematic enough to include a cringe factor to them. This one must be a personal call. Am I relieved and grateful that the award nominations I once had were before the industry had its eyes unwillingly opened to the mounting issues? Heck yes.

You’re looking for an agent or you’re shopping a manuscript AND you can get pitch appointments. Pitch appointments, especially with editors for houses you’re targeting, are an amazing source of submission invites. I favor smaller, more local events where there aren’t 10k of my nearest and dearest vying for the same appointments. Getting in front of editors and agents is absolutely worth the time and trouble. Get a chance to put ‘Requested Material’ on a submission just once and see if you don’t agree.

You’re into meeting other authors, book lovers, and assorted weirdos. The breadth and depth of humanity is usually represented at a conference. If you enjoy striking up conversations with strangers about shared interests – cons are for you.

You’re using the con as a mini writer’s retreat, to recharge batteries, or to remember who you are outside of the roles and expectations of the rest of your life. Sometimes, a con is just a good excuse to get away so you don’t have to threaten the very next person who won’t leave you alone for five minutes while you pee, for the love of pete.

Cons are not worth it if:

You expect a return on investment. This is not why we con. At least, not why 98% con.

You’re expecting a miracle – like an agent begging to rep you or an editor begging to buy your book on the spot, you will be disappointed. If you’re signing and expecting to see lines out the door, you probably will see that. For someone else. At least initially.

You’re immunocompromised or live with someone who is. Fact of our lives, now, I’m afraid. Anyplace a large group of people are gathered indoors is a super spreader event. It might be Covid. It might be flu. It might be RSV. It might be measles. It might be TB. It might be the common cold. I hate it with every fiber of my being but every con now requires a fully informed, individual risk assessment.

Will I go to a con again? Yes. Comicon is still my happy place and I'd really like to get to one of the big SFWA cons at some point. Darn day job, tho. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Want to Book Con?

a set of double wooden doors with the upper half in frosted fleur decorated glass

Book Conventions: love them or leave them?


When you read a book you love what’s one of the first things you want to do? Talk about it with someone else who loves it too! And that’s how book conventions came to be.


At least in my mind. 


But as an author conventions become more than being a fan, they also become work. If you’re new to the book/author convention world maybe you’re wondering which ones are worth the money. Or maybe you’re wondering which ones will give your shiny new book the most exposure. Or maybe you want to meet other writers who might end up becoming writing buddies, or critique partners, or mentors. 


All of those reasons and more are why attending one might be right for you. But every con is different and you’ll need to research to find out which ones match with your goals. And no matter what goal you’ve got, attending a con will cost you $$. So, let’s take a look at what’s out there!


This list is by no means comprehensive. There are cons of all sizes that cater to all genres. The easiest ones to quickly look up are the ones connected to professional writing groups and associations. SFWA holds the Nebulas. Worldcon has the Hugos. If you’re looking for a fantasy specific con check out FantasyCons.com. They list these smaller conventions by date and show the location.  


If you’re looking for general fiction ones, check out the list The Write Life put together. Select by genre or location, they’re all on the same page. Or maybe you’re looking for something local to do a signing at or rub elbows with authors within driving distance of you. In that case, check out Writer’s Digest’s list of book fairs and festivals


There are also plenty of writing conventions aimed at teaching you how to put together a novel, how to format, how to pitch, how to self-publish, etc. Watch out for those. Some have useful information, but sometimes it’s packaged at a steep price or the information could’ve been gleaned by reading some free online resources. Some offer pitch appointments with agents if you're on the traditional publishing pathway, which can be the highlight of attending this type.


Attending a book/author convention can be energizing! Meeting people in the same writing stage as you can be uplifting. And making connections with industry professionals can be beneficial. Weigh your pros and cons after doing your research. Hopefully you’ll find one that’s easy to get to that you’ll enjoy!


Do you have any cons on your wishlist or ones you’ve been to that you’d recommend?

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Cons: Better for Fans than Authors

This Week's Topic: Conventions (Cons): They're Morphing, But Do They Provide What Authors and/or Readers Want and Need?

Four years after the lockdowns of Covid, Cons are in full swing...though they might look a little different from their pre-Covid formats. Some are embracing virtual formats, either in their entirety or as special breakout sessions for those who can't attend in person. Some are scaling back their size to control costs, while others are expanding to lure more diverse audiences. 

Not being a Con girl, I don't have first-hand experience of the post-Covid landscape. The Cons I attended were all before the Great Plague. 'Bout the only advice I can give as an author is that unless you're a Big Name with a large fan base in the area where you're signing, don't expect to make a profit by attending in person. In fact, you're most likely to have a notable net loss when you factor in costs for transportation, lodging, staging, product, etc. Now, that loss may be deductible depending on your tax situation. If you're attending as a virtual panelist (from the comfort of your office), then your out-of-pocket costs are obviously less but don't dismiss the opportunity costs. Also, remember that "exposure" is not payment, particularly if you've been invited by a for-profit host. If you have to pay-to-play, don't go, then be realistic in your expectations and honest with your budget. Donating your time to a non-profit Con as a marketing tactic won't measurably move your sales and revenue, but it might fill a personal desire to contribute to your community (check with your tax professional to know if any costs are tax deductible).

If you're attending a Con as an author, do so because you love meeting new people or because you're really going as a fan of other attending artists. Heck, some authors attend because, for them, it's a vacation with their besties. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Exciting New Book Deal - NEVER THE ROSES


Sharing the OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL super exciting news today on NEVER THE ROSES, the book I sold to Tor. I'm explaining the Publisher's Marketplace lingo, how foreign sales work, and why creatives can't be thick-skinned.

I burble about this on my podcast, First Cup of Coffee.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

How do you stop overthinking your writing?


Everyone does it. Your thoughts circle in an endless loop – anxiety and doubt overtake your ability to move forward. Unfortunately, it's common. I don’t know how to eliminate it, but I can share ways I’ve found helpful to move past it.

1. Find your process. Whether you’re just starting or have written dozens of books, find a process that works for you and use it. This may look a little different for each writer, but I’m talking about how you go from idea to done. I rely on the process I’ve built to help get out of the overthinking cycle. Overthinking hits hardest for me in the first draft and self-edits–before anyone else sees the story. I remind myself to trust the process. That my critique partners and editors will help me flesh out the areas that don’t quite make sense yet. We have dev editors, alpha and beta readers, and writing critique partners for a reason. We’ve selected them because we trust them to give us honest feedback. Especially if you’re struggling with overthinking an early draft, trust that you’ll work through the details, but you must get the story out first.

 

If you’re just starting and you don’t have people like this, whether they are fellow writers you can critique swap with or paid partners like dev editors or beta readers, I highly recommend finding them. Not everyone uses every type of partner. Find the ones that work for you.

 

2. Have a plan. This is not a stand between plotters and pantsers. How you get your words on paper is your own business. I find overthinking to be circuitous, a cycle of worry that isn’t really productive. One way I move forward is by revisiting my plan for publication. If you’re familiar with sales, this is like internal objection handling. Your brain might create reasons to get stuck in a cycle, and you get to sell it on why you want to move forward. It could look like this: 

 

Brain: this addition to the world-building would be great, but it needs to be in the beginning. 
Plan: Okay, Brain, I will write it down and address it in self-edits. Let's pretend that it has been there from the beginning for now. 

 

I’ll admit this is less helpful when your brain loops on self-doubt, but that is also an area of overthinking that writers must confront. Not every story is for every reader, and I have to be okay with that to create something and put it out in the world. In those cases, I anchor myself around why I’m doing this. I love writing, and I love sharing my stories. I want to find readers who enjoy my brand of storytelling.

 

3. Trust yourself. Cliche? Sure. But still fundamentally a way to unstick yourself from the overthinking cycle. I can’t prescribe what will work for you, but you’ll find the things that do. For me, pushing through a draft helps. I make changes as I go and clean up for consistency in self-edits. Each writer has to find their own ways to deal with overthinking because it is a common struggle, and I don’t think it goes away the more you write.


I hope it helps to know you’re not the only one overthinking your writing. Find the people and the process that works for you. Many think of writing as solitary, but storytelling inherently needs others. Find the people who will support you but give you constructive feedback.


Jillian Witt reads more romantic fantasy than is strictly necessary and writes books she would love to read. Her stories unleash powerful women into fantasy worlds, usually turn enemies into lovers, and always offer an escape from reality.
When not reading or writing, she’s enjoying all four seasons in Michigan with her partner and their dog, Loki.

TT and instagram @mythandmagicbookclub 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Overthinking Toolkit


When you look up overthinking in the dictionary, that's my picture beside the definition. Bet you didn't know that. I have a kind of love/hate relationship with overthinking. On the one hand, overthinking is the artistic drive to make a piece match a vision. I'll give that some respect. On the other hand, though, it's paralysis and there's a ton of slow going everyplace in between the two poles. 

I can't tell anyone how to stop overthinking. It's one of my biggest hurdles. I have amassed a toolbox around it, though, and you're welcome to rummage through for useful tidbits. 

1. Binaural beats - 40k in particular which has some bit of science behind showing it helps with focus, attention, and flow. The theory is that varied frequencies going in each ear regulate brainwaves in a particular way and invoke a state of some kind. These require stereo headphones and low volume - just at the edge of awareness. You can find pure pulse tones or you can find the beats integrated into music. Experiment. Your brain may, like mine, find the pure tones too dis-regulating but the musical ones to be just fine. 

2. Enforced speed - Twice a month, a group of writers gets together in a writing game. For two hours we run timed writing sprints against monsters. Each monster is worth a specific word count value. Everyone in the group pools their words against the critter. Each session is timed - if time runs out before we hit word count, the monster wins. If we hit word count before the clock runs out, the writers win. This practice is valuable for me because it forces me to just keep going - no don't go back to correct the typo. Leave the sentence fragment alone. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. I can't say I come away with usable scenes for a book from this exercise but what I do get are snippets of usable stuff. Writing that fast ends up being a lot of stream of consciousness for me. If I can keep my stream of consciousness focused on the story I'm working on, then all of the noodling and overthinking gets channeled out of my head and onto that virtual page. From it, I can glean conversations, conflicts, and opportunities for the actual story. It's a good reminder that it's okay to feel my way through a story and to worry about fixing things later. 

3. Default mode - apparently, our brains have a default mode wherein some much needed sorting and rearranging gets done. This happens when we slip into daydreaming or staring off into space. It happens when we engage in repetitive physical tasks like vacuuming a room or sweeping or washing dishes or ironing. It is a brainwave shift, absolutely, but it isn't something we *do*. It's something that happens. Default mode sort of sneaks up on us. In default mode, it's as if someone is in our heads unplugging this bit over here, untangling the cord and then plugging it in over there but with lots and lots of stuff. Kind of a mental defragmentation process. If I'm really up against an overthinking wall, convinced there's only one right way through a story and I haven't found it yet, I'll get up, walk outside and spend 10 to 20 minutes pulling weeds in the garden. Or I'll sweep up cat litter, or do dishes, whatever simple, repetitive physical task that takes very little thought. A walk around the block would serve as well. Just take note that screens / social media are never ever the answer.

4. Get back in the body - overthinking tends to pull the nervous system into a fight, flight, fawn, or freeze state. Maybe overthinking is an evolutionary trait of some kind that helped our ancestors survive because it often feels like not getting a story exactly right is an existential threat. Yoga nidra is useful, in that case, as it's designed to sooth the nervous system out of fight or flight and reset your brain as well. 

I hope you find something useful in this set of tools. I'm still a work in progress on the overthinking front. Believe me when I say I'm combing the other posts for more tips, tricks, and tools. What a relief it would be to one day just write a story and not hit that wall that makes me look back and wonder if I did all those words, threads, and characters right. Especially since, for me, that wall is never at The End.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Don't Get Stuck in the Weeds

Don't get stuck in the weeds like Ullr.
A black and white Siberian husky stands sideways in snow-covered marshes beneath a bright blue sky.

Signs you may be overthinking your writing:

  • You write, then delete. You write, then delete.
  • You can’t stop researching details.
  • You’re still staring at a blank page determined to find the perfect start.
  • You make no progress.


You may think overthinking isn’t an issue for you. But be honest with yourself, how many times have you written a sentence only to delete and rewrite it over and over? Hello first sentences! 


The trick is being able to acknowledge what your brain is doing. If you’re not aware of how it’s operating how can you change it? And also…how do you change your brain?


For me, overthinking is the drive for perfection. It’s the inability to leave a sentence alone because it’s not conveying the exact emotion or action I’m looking for. Have you ever heard of there’s more than one way to skin a cat? Same applies here, there’s more than one way to describe a specific emotion/action/what-have-you and there is never one perfect way.


Once I realize I’m stuck, because yes, overthinking can be a type of writer’s block, I like to reset my brain. A short breathing session or yoga session, because yoga literally means to unite the body and mind. This helps me get back to alpha brain waves which is where creative thinking happens.


Think of brain waves this way, beta is when you’re actively speaking or exercising. Beta is worked up. Take a step down to alpha and you’re relaxed. You’re walking in a garden without having to concentrate or your sitting in meditation. Another step down is theta. Autopilot. That’s why you can have those ah-ha moments while you’re taking a shower or driving your car. You’re in autopilot which frees your mind up to wander and find solutions. 


Next time you find yourself overthinking, maybe give resetting your brainwaves a try! 


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Overthinking and the Blinding Flash of Brilliance

 This Week's Topic: How Do I Stop Overthinking My Writing?

{cuts open skull}

{takes out brain}
{leaves it on desk}
No? Maybe not?
Okay, fine. 

I laughed when I saw this topic because overthinking things is so me. I can spend a whole day in a thought spiral for what amounts to less than a page worth of story. D'oh! What a colossal waste of precious time, right? 

So, how do I stop doing it? Yes, I appreciate that the question is "stop doing" versus "never do."  In accordance with the universal first step, one must recognize there is a problem. For me, that usually comes when a pee break forces me to step away from the computer. I have a habit of mentally checking my progress toward my daily goal during those moments of, erm, seated relief. (Yeah, I'm the girl who starts her day with "what do I have to get done today, what do I want to get done today, and what can I absolutely not do today.") That's usually when I realize I've spent the last two hours reworking the same damn page. When I return to my WiP, I don't let myself look at the mess I've created. I move on. 

Sometime around 2AM, the solution will come to me. 

The second way I realize I'm overthinking the problem is when I MAKE THINGS WORSE. Usually, I'm overthinking a scene or a moment when I'm trying to clarify and/or simplify the information imparted. Somehow in the throes of it, I make things more complex. Again, once I realize what a disastrophy I'm writing, I move on. I force myself to turn the page (or page-down the page?).  The Blinding Flash of Brilliance (BFB™️) will come once my subconscious has had time to noodle on it.

Overthinking a point of your story is bound to happen. The key to working through it is to realize when you've succumbed. Once you know you're caught in the thought spiral, you can break free. Give your subconscious time to figure it out, then you can go back and fix things. You know that process called Editing? Yep. It's where BFBs shine. 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Overthinking Your Writing? Be Like Jackson


Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: How do you stop overthinking your writing? The accompanying photo is of Jackson, who makes a practice of overthinking absolutely nothing. I'm tempted to say "Be like Jackson" and end the blog post here. 

But, seriously, the key to not overthinking your writing is ... stop overthinking.

I know that's not helpful, but it is an important skill to acquire. Conversely, it's important to purge yourself of the idea that thinking is necessary for writing. As an intuitive writer, I do everything I can to maximize intuition and minimize conscious thought. The more I think, the slower I write. I know this about myself, but there's a pervasive idea out there that writing comes from thinking. 

This gem was going around Twitter/X the last couple of days:

We won't dive into how much of a dipshit this guy is, including a misguided impression that writers are somehow not into opportunities that allow us to pay the bills. What's key here is that he believes you have to have an outline before writing, that you have to THINK it out. Spoiler: you do not. I am living proof of it and a total advocate for being that opportunist. Let the story come to you.

Something to keep in mind is that overthinking is a form of perfectionism, which can be paralyzing. Therefore, any techniques for killing perfectionist tendencies will help here. Basically let go of expectations and the need to make the story perfect as you're writing.

Relax. Let it flow.

Be like Jackson.

 

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Believability—and sexiness—is all about emotion

 



As a fantasy romance writer (now called romantasy, I guess?) today's topic is near and dear to my heart. While love scenes aren't necessary for a fantasy romance novel, they are common, and I tend to write on the steamier side. Let's just say I've got some experience with writing love scenes--I was actually editing one this week, adding a little more emotional depth and a few key details. I love the way that sex peels back the layers of a character and digs into the dynamics of a relationship. There is nothing more vulnerable than desire, and acting on that desire reveals a lot about a character, both to the reader and to themselves.

So how do I keep them believable? There is a level of general staging to make sure that clothing doesn't suddenly change or disappear, and to ensure the action more or less makes sense. That level has to be handled gracefully to keep the reader in the scene, though how detailed or steamy is more driven by the tone of the story than believability. Beyond the basic mechanics, I tend to focus on the emotions rather than what body parts may or may not be involved.

A kiss can be incredibly powerful and passionate, if the POV character is swept away by it. Some sensory details can heighten the immersiveness of the scene--again especially ones that the POV character has a deep reaction to, or little details that reveal how the other character is feeling.

These days, I am also conscious of consent and modeling good sex practices (including safe sex when technologically appropriate) so I try to incorporate enthusiastic consent into my love scenes. Which honestly isn’t hard because—let’s be real— “yes” and “more” are two of the sexiest words ever, and the kind of characters I’m drawn to write love to hear them.

At the end of the day, believability flows from character, and their motives and emotions. If you have nailed those as an author, then the acts themselves are merely a matter of taste.

Jaycee Jarvis is an award winning fantasy romance author, who combines heartfelt romance with immersive magical worlds. When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her spouse, three children and a menagerie of pets.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Journey to Believable Scenes

Love scenes in novels aren't made believable within the confines of that single scene. Usually. Certainly writers can do plenty within the scene to kill the mood or break a reader's willing suspension of disbelief. In my opinion (and subsequently, in my craft practice) love scenes are made believable by virtue of the journey that led up to the sex scene. If a story goes straight for the sexy times right from the outset, then the journey has to be implied within the context of the scene.

It's no secret I like smart heroines. It may, therefore, be no surprise that in order for me to believe my heroines would hop in the sack with someone, I need to believe that decision would make sense from within that heroine's point of view. This is why I need a journey to a love scene. That journey is a series of small vignettes that put pins on a map taking my characters from strangers, even opponents, to trust. No. Not to lovers. To trust. Lovers comes after trust has been established in my books. No trust, no nooky. Of course there are heroines who would hop in bed with someone they don't trust. If that's going to happen, however, I, as a reader, need to understand her motivation for it. Is this a trauma response? People pleasing at enormous cost to herself? A rebellious move? A revenge screw? I can buy a lot but I need to comprehend why someone is willing to put themselves into the most vulnerable of positions with an unknown quantity. I suspect, in this post Me, Too era, when few of us are privileged enough to get to ignore just how dangerous simply existing can be for female presenting people, most of us need to get inside someone's head when they're going to engage in (perhaps fatally) risky behavior.

BUT. This isn't a murder mystery so we're not hiding corpses yet. We're still trying to get folks between the sheets.

The path from Hello to the bedroom (or wherever) is sign posted by the scenes where the first sparks of attraction fly, and in the scenes of discovery - these are the ones where characters are learning about one another and are finding the good and admirable - and in the scenes where the learning about one another starts paying off because they aren't just talking at one another anymore. They're communicating. Mostly. Coming to understanding. If I'm doing my job, somewhere in those scenes, my characters aren't just melting one another's hearts - they're melting the reader's as well. IF that happens, the love scene will likely be believable.

Barring my attempts to do something anatomically impossible, but that's another day's rant.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Believable Intimacy

 This Week's Topic: How Do I Make My Love Scenes Believable?

Man, it's tough being the one to follow Jeffe, who won Romancelandia's most prestigious award for best romance with Pages of the Mind. Her backlist includes holy-hot-stuff fantasy and contemporary erotica. I write "how to 'splode your enemy's head" kind of books; thus, I kinda wanna cheat and just post a "what she said" link

But, I'm pulling up my ruffled big-girl panties and giving you, dear readers, my $0.04 worth of opinion.

I could be a little shit and say, "I don't write explicit sex scenes," but that would be a lie. I've written 'em, I just haven't tortured the public with them. However, I do write (and have published) scenes of intimacy. They may not be ass-baring, but they are soul-baring. And, yeah, as Jeffe said, the key to believability is to ground the actions, emotions, and personal evolution in the character's character. 

In healthy relationships, vulnerabilities are exposed, acknowledged, and treated with care by the partner.  In healthy relationships, desires are shared both verbally and physically. In healthy relationships, there's give and take, both in dominance and submission--even during vanilla sex. There's a respect between (or among) partners that--in a medium of show vs tell--is absolutely shown.

By contrast, in unhealthy relationships, the opposite is shown. Deliberate disrepect. Intentional hiding  of or trampling over needs. Engagement as a tool of punishment (not kink). Humilation and degradation (again, not as kink). Whether or not anything is being penetrated, the cruel intention spurring the actions is plain. 

In the course of a story, the scene of intimacy is used to either advance character development or to demonstrate character self-sabotage. Sure, if you're aiming to write a believable sex scene involving humans, you'll want to avoid portraying the man as an endless fountain of jizz banging on his mate for hours. Chafe is real, and dudes do have to take a break to rest and reload, ya know. 😇


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Writing Believable Scenes


 We had big fun at Beastly Books yesterday celebrating FaRoFeb! The delightful Vela Roth came up from El Paso, and A.K. Mulford and A.J. Lancaster joined us online from down under. The panel was also broadcast on Instagram Live and you can find a recording of it on the FaRoFeb Instagram account.

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "How do you make your love scenes believable?"

By "love," I assume the asker means sex - though how to make the confessional of heartfelt love feel earned and not pasted on or saccharine is an interesting question. But, in truth, the answer to both, or even really ALL scenes - love, sex, fight, daily conversation - believable is to ground them in character.

This is true whether you are a plot-driven or character-driven writer. Stories are about the emotions of the people in them - what they want, what they can't have, what drives them to chase what they want anyway. So, a fight scene is never just about the choreography and who wins or loses. It's about what that win or loss MEANS to the characters, what impact their injuries might have on them beyond the physical.

Likewise, a sex scene is never just about tabs and slots fitting together. It's about emotional intimacy, what the sexual interlude means to the characters. It has nothing to do with whether or not multiple orgasms are believable or making first-time encounters awkward or including realistic body noises and accidental passing of fluids and gases. Those things might factor in if they relate to the characters' emotional lives, but by themselves, they don't change anything, one way or the other.

Because believability comes from emotional truth, regardless of everything else.