I’m cross-posting over at the Castles and Guns blog today–comment here or there!
A month ago, I would have sworn that writing a synopsis was the most painful exercise a writer could go through. I don’t mind writing blurbs or overviews–they can be sharp and provocative and teasing. The synopsis has to boil 98,000 words into a few pages, hitting all the major plot points, wrapping up the ending–and somehow STILL be sharp and provocative. Just kill me now.
For the past week, I longed to write a synopsis. Would have welcomed a synopsis. Because I found something worse–my ultimate writing nightmare. The love scene.
I have a voice, and it is not the voice of a poet. I don’t write flowers and sunshine. When I entered my first book in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest and made it to the quarterfinals in 2009, I got a Publishers Weekly review. The reviewer called my writing “clean and sturdy prose,” a euphemism for straightforward and non-lyrical. I write in short, choppy sentences. I describe things in straightforward ways. I go light on simile and metaphor. I abhor adjectives. Blame it on the journalistic training, or a low bullshit tolerance.
Which brings us to love scenes. As a reader, I like a good love scene. But really, you have Tab A, Slot B, and a few secondary portals, and they can all fit together in only so many ways. I know that what makes love scenes work is the emotion behind them, but the author still has to WRITE them.
So first there’s the issue of what to call the tabs and slots without resorting to Heaving-Bosom-and-Throbbing-Manhood Syndrome. I prefer straightforward names, but I’m not writing erotica–paranormal romance is a different animal, and some of those words probably won’t fly. My list of what qualifies as Purple Prose is extremely long. I’m running out of words.
There’s also the Ridiculous Synonym Syndrome. “Groan” is a good word, as is “moan.” A little breathlessness is cool. But how many groans and moans can one have in a ten-page scene without being absurd? And, I’m sorry, but my characters cannot mewl or bellow. There’s just no dignity in sounding like a helpless kitten or a raging bull. I’m running out of words.
Just kill me now.