Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Writing Craft

One of my favorite fantasies is not only being published but writing for more than one line. Hey, dreams are free. :) Since the passion lines are my favorite I'd love to write for Presents and Blaze! All writing is hard work and category is, IMHO especially challenging. Absolutely essential to writing for a line is loving it. And even more, understanding the unique requirements of the line you're targeting.

Blaze has such a wide variety of different kinds of stories, paranormal, chick-lit, action adventure, romantic suspense, romantic comedy - seemingly anything goes. So I asked the women who are nailing the tone.

Amazingly, they answered. Wonderful, thoughtful, informative responses. If you've ever wondered what makes a Blaze a Blaze here's some insight on the question. Enjoy!

Now I have a new question for all you talented Blaze babes. Jo Leigh mentioned enjoying writing her romantic suspense titles (which I love reading) and planning another series (yes!) BUT BLAZE ALL THE WAY. That little phrase got me thinking.

What makes a Blaze a Blaze? Yes I've read the writing guidelines. Heck, I've even written a couple. But I still don't feel like I have the tone of the line nailed. There's a huge variety of editorial within the line. That variety is the very thing that I think makes writing for Blaze so challenging.

Is-it-truly-as-anything-goes as it looks from here? (Evanne Lorraine)

Evanne, I'm sure you'll get a lot of different answers, but having made a stab at Superromance, I think that's exactly the thing that makes the two lines so comparable -- Blaze, like Supers, has an enormous range of tones, plots, stories, etc and you can't nail it down to any one thing. I kind of had the opposite thing happen with Supers (which I still haven't given up on), that I had the tone down, but needed to revise the story, which I'm going to try to get to one of these days...

In Blaze, you know you have to have it hot, have it sexy, but even in my own experience, from books like ABOUT LAST NIGHT or my upcoming PICK ME UP, which have love scenes just about every other chapter (or so it seems, LOL), to books like UNTOUCHED, which don't have a love scene until halfway through the book, there's huge variety even for individual authors. Some dark, some light, some funny, some paranormal, some adventure... lots of possibilities.

So, I think you have to read, absorb, and trust your gut -- the variety makes it very difficult, true, but it also means if your story is right, there's a lot of room for new and different in the line (especially at the current moment, when there are so many new things happening....). (Samantha Hunter)

I think that's one of the toughest questions out there --what makes a Blaze a Blaze. Believe me, it wasn't something I knew when we first started the line, and the line has changed since then, too. For me, no matter what the story, and yes, it can be everything from comedy to adventure to suspense, has a couple at the core, and that couple has to explore their budding relationship in a very physical way. That love occurs both physically, emotionally and sometimes spiritually. Some have the physical thing first, but not all. For me, and from comments I've gotten especially on the RS books - each Blaze is essentially about the love story, and everything that happens in the external plot has an impact on that love story. At least, that's the way I explain it to myself when I'm plotting. (Jo Leigh)

I like to think that Blaze takes a reader to a place where she is beautiful and strong, wearing her most expensive lingerie to seduce the man of her dreams.
Because that's what our heroines do, right? Regardless of any other element in the story, the seduction (a mutual seduction, at that--not just a man showing a woman the ropes) is at the forefront. I'm not sure any other line has that kind of sultry tone. And what makes it even cooler is that in the midst of all the sex and heat, the characters are in love and committed to each other (even if they don't know it yet). It's an awesome thing to have both the sweet romance and the hot passion in one relationship. (Melissa James)

And hmm, how to define a Blaze? I always think of it as a romance novel in which the *sensual/sexual* relationship of the hero/heroine drive the emotional relationship toward its inevitable hea resolution. Does that make any sense? Otherwise, there really is no other definition! Anything goes in Blaze, which is so totally cool! (Leslie Kelly)

I think Blaze heroines make the line. There is something signature and strong about a Blaze babe. The heroes can run the gamut from alpha to beta, but the heroines have something solid about them. (Jenna Bayley- Burke)

Evanne, When I first started writing, I had no clue of the differences in the lines, and just wrote what I wrote. I couldn't feel anything different between Temptation and Desire, for example. I got a lot of the same things in both lines. Same with Supers and Specials. I was reading as a reader, finding similarities, loving the books, but as an author? Clueless as to the nuances.

And honestly? Even after I sold I was clueless. I had several proposals rejected by Temptation AFTER I'd sold 3 there for not being the right tone. ::shrug:: Went right over my head. And I still didn't sense the differences until the lines seemed to me to get even more sharply defined - and that's been within the last few years. Again, this is all me, but now I can see some unique trademarks to various lines, while some books I still think could cross.

But for Blaze, and for me, it's all about tone and the attitude of the characters. The characters, no matter their sexual experience, MUST be adventurous and willing and accepting of their sexual natures. They can be put into all sorts of plots, but they are not shy about sex. For me, that's the biggest thing to keep in mind. (Alison Kent)

Leslie, that's a great way of putting it. And Jenna, I think you're right about Blaze heroines. That was the primary reason my partial on the continuity got tossed back for re-do. I hadn't painted the heroine right, and Kathryn mentioned, "Blaze heroine" a number of times in the conversation. In my case, I'd had to take her from grumpy and kind of a bummer to more confident and determined. I tend to think while you can do a zillion things with the story line, if you can get the characterization on the heroine right, that's a big foot in the door. (Lori Borrill)

As far as what makes a Blaze, I think I'd take from a couple of things I've heard here already--first, is that sexual tone/awareness that the characters have built into them (whether they're virgins or seductresses; players or abstainers)--the hero/ine need to be characters who embrace their sexual selves and are willing to explore/discover/have adventures/redefine/expand that sexual side. And secondly, the strong heroines. Of course, that means the heroes have to be strong, too, to match and not be overshadowed by them. But no matter her level of sexual experience/expertise, the heroine has some backbone that makes her strong and self-sufficient. I think Blaze heroines need that inner (and/or outward) strength to make it believable that they are adventurous sexual creatures and aren't being taken advantage of by the hero or by the conflicts in Blaze stories. Even if they aren't aware of that strength (a great story arc is for the heroine to discover her own chutzpah), or they have a softer outward personality--even shyness--that strength is there. (Julie Miller)

Contemporary, independent heroines, who are not afraid to be sexy or go after what they want? They're not your mother's Harlequins, for sure. (Sheila Baker)

Hi there Blaze Babes,

I'm popping back in with a sincere thanks for all the great answers to my question: What makes a Blaze a Blaze?

Sam mentioned the wide variety in the line's editorial, makes it hard to pin down. I agree completely. Blaze has been a forest and trees problem for me I keep finding a different style Blaze when I thought I'd figured it out.

Jolie pointed out it's even more complicated because the line keeps evolving. but reminded me (always a good thing) that Blaze is always love story.

Melissa explained the key is a certain kind of heroine; one in charge of her sexuality, meeting her hero as an equal. Blaze being a combination of passionate and tender romance.

Leslie added that the physical relationship drives the emotional journey. So pithy, so true.

Jenna seconded the essential strong heroine. Gamma babes?

Alison charmed me with an explanation of adventurous characters with a certain attitude as being the defining Blaze aspect.

Julie dropped by to enlighten me further with the clue that the heroine can grow into the emotionally confident ideal rather than having to start there.

Sheila summed it all up - sexy independent women

Thank you all bunches - there's so much collective wisdom here it may take me awhile to process. Please accept my apology if I've mangled your answer by paraphrasing.

Blaze babes are the best.


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