Heat with Heart Day 1, Finding that missing emotion

For those of us who love erotic romance, we’ve probably run into this at one point or another.

That erotic romance that had so much promise.  It had a blurb that caught your attention, maybe even a kick butt cover and the first few pages were wonderful.

Then you get into the story, or at least you read further into the story, and you can’t get into it.  It’s mechanical.  It’s boring.  It’s predictable.  Insert Tab A into Slot B/C/D (or two tab As into two different slots… whatever!)  but there’s little emotion.  What could have been a beautiful love scene was little more than sex and it didn’t do anything to advance the plot, didn’t do anything to bring the hero and the heroine closer together. 

What’s missing?


How do you get that emotion into the story?  I can’t necessarily say it’s easy.  If it was easy, everybody could do it and then we wouldn’t be reading books that had the heat but lacked the heart.

There are ways however to get that emotion into the story.

I asked some fellow writers the following…

What are some techniques for getting across the emotion in your books?

Jaci Burton says

think of the impact of the relationship between the characters in every scene–how they feel, how what happens to them changes them, both externally and internally

Angela Knight says 

Dialogue is a big one.  I try to think of myself as an actor playing that character.  What would I say, given the character’s motivation?

Toni Blake says

I just make sure that, no matter what’s happening in the book, the character’s emotions are on the page. Whether it’s a sex scene or otherwise. If I read back over something I’ve written and it’s not very apparent how the characters are feeling, I know I need to add that in.

So what does all these mean?

The reader needs to know what your characters are thinking and feeling. How do you accomplish this? Well, I think Sunny is the one who summed it up the best…at least for this part.

She said

Intimacy, getting inside the character’s head is the key thing for me.

You get into the person’s head. Ways to do that are (choke, it hurts to say this because I’m not a plotter by nature) plotting and doing some sort of preliminary characterization. Write the character’s backstory, or at least think it through. What happens to us in our lives helps to shape us, how we react, how we think, how we feel. The same goes to our characters. A woman from an abusive relationship isn’t going to trust easily when she meets the man of her dreams. No matter how wonderful he is. We can’t expect her to. It makes sense when we see this woman resistant to Mr. Sexy and Wonderful and why she isn’t going to let him sweep her off her feet. But if we don’t know what’s behind her resistance, she may end up looking like a stupid twit that we don’t really want to see with Mr. S & W.

Since PBW is making me work, I’m going to pass it on.  If you’re interested, come back and give me the names of two characters, the hero and the heroine and some backstory on them.  This can be from a WIP or you can just pull them out of the air.  Who knows… you pull them out of the air, you just might end up with another story to tell.

**Updated to add… the backstory thing has me intrigued.  And this isn’t just going to be a one day workshop.  I think I’m going to do a short series on it, exploring it a little each week until I’m done.  I’ve got plenty of author responses and this will keep me busy blogging for a little while at least.  ;o)