August 26, 2015

A Quick Hit Analysis

Earlier this year, I won a copy of Larry Brooks’ STORY ENGINEERING and I subscribe to his blog, Storyfix.

In an online forum of which I’m a member, Larry’s name comes up quite a bit because he’s the book coach for the moderator. Recently, the moderator, Jennifer Blanchard Williams, decided to publicly post her 6-week process for story planning and development. Her first step is to get an analysis of her concept and premise.

A service offered by Larry Brooks:

Level 1 – The Quick Hit Concept Analysis… $49

Concept and Premise are to blame for at least half of the rejections that occur among newer writers.  The core story itself, even with stellar execution, may not strong enough at it’s core to move an agent or editor to take it on.

It’s one of the most common of many ways to weaken a story.  You can’t write your way out of this, correction is required at the highest level of conceptual intention.  In many cases writers don’t even understand what a concept is, or  how it differs from premise.  This is a story-killer, one you can now avoid.

This service examines your concept in context to five key criteria for a compelling story, and suggests a direction for revision if necessary.

Hands down, this is the most dramatic price-to-value service in the history of story coaching.  Price reduced from its prior format, with enhanced value through a myopic focus on the inherent power of your concept.

Turnaround is 3 to 5 days (unless notified otherwise).  If you’d like a 24-hour rush on this, email me to request for billing at the $74 rate for that service, or us the drop down menu option shown on the Home page (left column under Story Coaching.

When she shared the results of her questionnaire with the group, I became intrigued.

I had just finished struggling through Camp NaNoWriMo and had officially put aside the 27, 997 word random (truly) scenes that I had written for my first romance novel.

This series that I want to write sounds cool enough–to me–but I thought “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to get the opinion of a professional book coach.”

I took a few days to think on it, checked out the latest case study that he worked on, looked over Jennifer’s case study again, and thought “What the hell? I’m gonna go for it.”

I paid the $49 fee, filled out the questionnaire and sent it off last Wednesday.

And then promptly got anxious, wondering if he’d ever done an analysis for erotic fiction, wondering if he’d think it was cheesy, wondering if I provided too much information, not enough information…

I got the results today.

Larry’s responses are in bold and my explanations are in italics:

The title and genre of your story:

Remy (Book 1, Men of Acropolis Club: The Nemesis Group)

Erotic Romance

Great genre, one of my favorites (several of my own novels have bumped up against this, though remaining in a more “mainstream” category; that said, three book clubs still categorize my first novel in their “erotica” sections).

The title, though, leaves something untapped. It’s just a name. Nobody buys a novel just because of a one word name (unless that name is Jesus, or Shakespeare, or something along those lines). I would recommend you consider working up a more compelling, strategic title, something that makes a promise (like – just an example – “The Taking of Remy” or “Remy’s Secret Desire” or something that ignites a fuse. A single name… nothin’.

Backstory: This series was inspired by three things: 1) Back in 2012, I found out my home state of Arizona (where I live, as well… not crazy about it here, to be honest) was ranked 3rd in the nation for human trafficking activity (not surprised; the state may be ranked #1 in stupidity, as well). I’m not sure how accurate that number is now, but it was enough to shock me into writing about it in some way, 2) Attending my first Chippendales performance in Feb 2014. My first ever, and one year later I’m still feeling a little scandalized. Heehee, and 3) Operation Underground Railroad, a real nonprofit organization that actually runs missions in foreign countries to rescue kidnapped children from traffickers.

 

What is the CONCEPT of your story?

Based in Phoenix, AZ, the overarching concept for the series is male exotic dancers who work undercover for an organization that rescues kidnapped children from human traffickers.

Wow, that’s surprisingly fascinating. Giving a “shallow” profession like dancing in a g-string a highly respectable and heroic mission like this… it’s genius, really. You’ll have readers eating out of your hand, on both sides of the g-string.

 

Restate your concept using a “WHAT IF…?” proposition:

What if a former EOD Specialist looking to get rid of her virginity falls in love with a male exotic dancer who works undercover for an organization that rescues kidnapped children from human traffickers?

You’ll need to walk the line between a love story and a human trafficking story (with only one of them being the “core” dramatic story). That said… bravo, this is incredibly strategic in a dramatic sense, while being juicy in a vicarious way, as well.

Had to look up “EOD,” still not sure… all that I could find as Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Don’t assume your reader (even in a pitch) will know what that means… I’m a pretty intuitive dude, and I really couldn’t tell you. [For the record, Larry is correct in what EOD stands for. Shao’s job in the army was defusing bombs. That acronym will be explained in the story. I swear]

 

What is the PREMISE of your story?

Shaolin Li, a former EOD Specialist adjusting to civilian life two years after being medically discharged (sounds like the one I found, right?), decides to “pop her cherry” and propositions Remy DuFrene, a male exotic dancer she meets during a girls’ night out. As their arrangement heats up, Shao gets caught up in Remy’s latest mission to rescue ten girls taken from an orphanage in China. Especially after she finds out one of the girls is someone she knows and the trafficker is conducting his business out of the hotel where she works.

Unless Remy is working as a dancer in China, this doesn’t make enough sense. He would need to be in proximity to the children he’s out to rescue, as well as the perps… I assume, then he’s IN China. Which then calls into question why she is in China.

If neither are in China, then I think you have a little gap in logic on this issue.

Then… having her “know” be one of the girls he’s actually going after… and the trafficker is conducting business out of the hotel where she works (in China)…

… that is WAY too unlikely, and thus, not credible. You risk much when you use coincidence to set up your story, proximity wise.

This is a story-killer, I’m afraid. Unless you can explain it as something other than coincidence –because there are literally thousands of hotels in China, what are the odds that a) she’d pick the one a human trafficker is working out of, and b) that the stripper she meets, out of literally thousands working in China, happens to be investigated that same trafficker…

… like I said, this is a story killer. You need to fix this, or you’re dead in the water.

If you can, then it’s a good setup… provided it IS NOT relying on coincidence. [What I explained to Larry in my return email is that, as I mentioned in the concept question, this series will take place in Phoenix. But what I failed to explain is that the girls were taken from China and brought to the States.]

 

What are you asking the reader to root for and care about in this story?

Shao sees herself as a warrior, a protector, and just one of the guys since she’s been surrounded by men most of her life. Due to this mentality, she believes she doesn’t have what it takes to maintain a lasting male-female relationship; hence the need to lose her virginity, no strings attached. I want the readers to root for Remy as he proves her wrong, to root for Shao as she learns to accept her worth as a woman and discover what she wants to do with the rest of her life, and to root for both of them as they work to free the girls from traffickers.

Well, yes. We will root for them.

But… you’ve totally skipped the CORE STORY that provides the vehicle for the romance, and that is the human trafficking caper you need to develop in this story. The reader needs to care about and root for THAT outcome… but you didn’t even mention it in your answer, which means you don’t yet recognize how important it is as a story catalyst.

 

What do you believe will distinguish your story in a crowded marketplace, setting it apart from and above the competition to attract the attention of agents, editors and readers?

I believe my story is unique for two reasons:

  • Male exotic dancers working undercover. It sounds cheesy, I know, but the few romance books I’ve read where the hero is an exotic dancer, he’s dancing for a reason and usually it’s to pay/save up for something (which is indeed empathetic). Or he’s a former dancer that owns the club. Or the hero is going undercover as an exotic dancer. I think dancers working undercover is a new twist.

I agree, this is a fresh twist.

 

  • Human trafficking. This is a tough subject and one that’s not really touched on in the romance genre. I think that with this series, I can soften a harsh topic by focusing on the romantic relationship of the main characters (that’s risky, you can’t open up a can of worms like human trafficking, and then treat it lightly; if you go there at all, you need to go all-in, thrust them BOTH into the center of a really dark story, one with high stakes and really nasty villains working against them; your notion to “focus on the romance” is going to sink you… you need to do just the opposite, give them a really intense thriller to live though… nothing brings lovers together more than their lives depending on each other in the face of real threat). Best-selling romance author Lori Foster did this really well with her “Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor” series. It also brings awareness to an activity that is not just international, not just involve female victims, and not just include sex slavery.

 

Overall, a nice concept. But I’ve flagged a couple of issues you need to think about, and perhaps rethink entirely. I’m really glad you opted in for this analysis, because the issues I’ve focused on here can sink your entire story. Now you know… no coincidences… and don’t underplay the human trafficking issue, if you have it in the story, then have it be the spine of the story.

Hope this helps. Rooting for you. Thanks for the look-see.

My Thoughts:

I’ll think about changing the name. I don’t agree with his comment–and maybe others who read romance as well will, too–that people don’t buy a novel based off a one word name. I have. Yes, it’s just a name, but it wasn’t the name that made me buy it. It was the sex on a stick hot guy on the cover and the blurb on the back. LOL HOWEVER, I’ve read series’ where the title is a play off of a character’s name. As I mentioned above, Lori Foster’s “Men Who Walk The Edge of Honor” (WHEN YOU DARE, A PERFECT STORM, etc.) and Alison Kent’s Smithson Group series’ comes to mind (THE MCKENZIE ARTIFACT, THE SAMMS AGENDA, etc.). So I may look into that.

I do need to better develop the human trafficking side of the story and I’ll work on that. But I don’t agree with his comment where “you can’t open up a can of worms like human trafficking, and then treat it lightly.” I don’t plan to treat it lightly, but I can inject lightness. As I mentioned, Lori Foster managed to do it very well with her series. Granted, she’s been writing for many, many years and I’m no Lori Foster, but none of the books were heavy, intense and dark. Mine aren’t going to be like that, either. I’m not going for heavy, intense and dark. I’m not writing a thriller. I’m writing erotic romance.

This dude had me on pins and needles. LOL I’ve never been so anxious for story feedback in my life, but I’m so glad I did it. Thank you Jennifer for the referral (Larry thanks you, too) and thank you Larry for the feedback. It was invaluable.

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

 

 

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August 26, 2015

Wet Panty Wednesday #33

This month’s theme: Native American Men

NA4

August 25, 2015

Writing Tip Tuesday #22: Dr. John Yeoman

writing_tips

 

Recently, I decided I was going to serialize Remy – TNG Book #1. I’ll be writing in installments and needing to find a way to keep readers coming back. And luckily, Dr. John Yeoman’s post on 10 Ways to Keep Your Readers Hooked provided some ideas.

#1. Break at a point of tension

  • Delay the resolution of a scene.
  • Setting the scene hanger on a separate line
  • A pregnant pause.
  • End your scene or chapter with some mysterious object
  • An odd event
  • A note of uncertainty

#2. Ask a rhetorical question

#3. Link the passages with a forecast

  • A linking word or phrase
  • A fateful event
  • A happy prediction
  • an intriguing incident

#4. Drop in a deceptively casual remark

#5. Introduce a threatening character

#6. Give a summary

#7. ‘Zoom out’ of the scene

#8. Close on a climax, unresolved, then switch the story line

  • Or insert a flashback

#9. Use progressively shorter sentences to heighten the pace, then cut

  • Try to follow a fast scene with a slow one.
  • end a chapter on a brisk or intriguing note

#10. Show the passage of time

 

What about you? What are you doing to keep your readers hooked? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

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August 24, 2015

Wet Panty Society – A Little Trivia About: Jesse Metcalfe

WPS4

He entered rehab for alcohol abuse on March 19, 2007 and was featured along with former Nash Bridges (1996) star, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, in the 3 Doors Down music video for “Let Me Go”. [February 2005]. Now I’m gonna have to find that video. Lucky bitch.

And I love it when a guy wears these kinds of hats.

jesse9

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

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August 20, 2015

Erotic Romance vs Erotica vs Porn

Last week, a post by Jami Gold about subjectivity and reader shaming lit a tiny defensive fire in me. Reader shaming is something that happens a lot in the romance genre, so I wrote a post about it.

Which got me to thinking about the difference between erotic romance, erotica and porn.

There IS a difference and it would be nice if people would just stop thinking that the romance genre in general was nothing but porn.

Because it’s not.

I like reading erotic romance. Those are the kind of books I want to write.

I was telling a long-time family friend that I stopped writing YA to write adult romance.

“Oh, like that 50 Shades of Grey?” he asked.

As if all romance–in all its many many forms–is like 50 Shades of Grey. <eye roll inserted here>

Thanks to the hype surrounding the movie, the public now thinks this way. To be fair, I’m not talking shit about the book or the movie. BDSM and all that stuff isn’t my thing, so I’ll never read the books or see the movie. Honestly, I think it’s pretty groundbreaking that this type of book was turned into a movie. It says a lot and paves the way for other romance authors to make it to the big screen.

But along the way, I think the author missed the opportunity to educate the public about what genre of romance 50 Shades falls into.

Last year, kind of in preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo, I read Alison Kent’s

ISBN-13: 9781440650758 Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc. Publication date: 9/5/2006 Series: COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE Series Sold by: DK Format: eBook Pages: 336 File size: 2 MB

ISBN-13: 9781440650758
Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
Publication date: 9/5/2006
Series: COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE Series
Sold by: DK
Format: eBook
Pages: 336
File size: 2 MB

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance. In the back was an Author Roundtable of questions and 6 authors responded to the question: How Do You Define Erotic Romance? Erotica? Pornography?

In my opinion, I think Jordan Summers’ definition was the best because it sounded so textbook perfect:

Erotic romance is a romance that develops into a deeper emotional connection through the characters’ physical relationship. Sex comes before the emotional development as opposed to traditional romances, which has the sexual relationship developing after the emotional connection. A happily-ever-after ending is expected in an erotic romance.

Erotica stories [like 50 Shades] are based around sexual discovery and are specifically written to evoke particular emotions like fear, love, anger, frustration, etc. They do not need to have a relationship or a happily-ever-after in them for the story to be complete, but a change of some kind must occur.

Pornography is a series of written or visual events meant for no other purpose than to titillate. In-depth plots and emotional connections are not necessary ingredients for these stories, nor do they require a happily-ever-after ending or a change of any kind to take place.

So, there you have it. I couldn’t have said it any better myself (which is why I didn’t).

All adult romance is NOT porn.

Consider yourself educated.

Any questions? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

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August 19, 2015

Wet Panty Wednesday #32

This month’s theme: Native American Men

NA3

August 18, 2015

Writing Tip Tuesday #21: Bonnie Randall

writing_tips

 

Just a little reminder from Bonnie Randall that as writers, we need to be A Writer, A Character and A Reader: A Different Sort of Trilogy:

  1. Be The Writer – embrace the way you perceive the world as prose and write everything. Write constantly. Write whenever and whatever strikes you.
  2. Be The Character – Force yourself to exist within the skin of your character and consider life through his/her lens.
  3. Be the Reader – read your own material, read others’ work, read for pleasure but read as an analyst, too, read outside your genre, read biographies, read the news.

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August 17, 2015

Wet Panty Society – A Little Trivia About: Jesse Metcalfe

wet-panty-society

Wow, look at me. Ms. Forgetful McForgetfulton. Totally depriving the female masses of their weekly man candy Mondays. I know you look forward to this, to seeing something totally droolworthy in your inbox. I’m more prepared than this. Honest. So, because you missed out on last week and this will be going out later than usual, today you’ll get two pics. You’re welcome.

~ His father is of English, Irish, French, and Italian descent. His mother is of Italian and Portuguese ancestry. Whew! I’m definitely seeing the Italian.

~ He plays the guitar and likes to sing.

jesse3

 

jesse2

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

August 14, 2015

Book Blogger Hop #7

book blogger hop

 

Welcome to the new Book Blogger Hop brought to you by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer!

If you want schedule next week’s post, click here to find the next prompt question. To submit a question, fill out this form.

What to do:

1. Post on your blog answering this question:

This week’s question is submitted by Elizabeth!

Are you ever without a book?

2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list  (enter your Blog Name and the direct link to your post answering this week’s question. Failure to do so will result in removal of your link).

3. Visit other blogs in the list and comment on their posts. Try to spend some time on the blogs reading other posts and possibly become a new follower. The purpose of the hop is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

[NOTE: Please check out my Follow Policy before making any rash decisions on following my blog. Please and thank you.]

 

HELL NAW!!

Back in ancient times when I was reading paperbacks–LOL– I would carry at least two.

Now that I have my Nookie, I like to have at least 6 in my Library ready to read.

What about you, you diehard bookworm? Are you ever without a book?  This inquiring mind wants to know.

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

 

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August 14, 2015

Follow Friday #93

FF_2013Button-300x300

 

Question this week from Parajunkee and Allison Can Read.

How does this work? You follow a blog, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you! With that being said, be sure to check out my Follow Policy before you make any rash decisions.

This week’s question: If you could have an endless supply of food what would it be?

Wow.

This…is a tough one.

Okay, so endless supply of food…..

Pancakes

Marie Callender’s Cream Cheese Pie

Fried chicken

Fruit (Cantaloupe, peaches, plums, strawberries, grapes)

Cereal (Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms)

Rice

Corn

The question was “food.” Not one particular thing. Wanna bet other people who answered this only mentioned one thing?

What about you? What would you have? This inquiring mind wants to know.

Peace, lurve, and wet panties,

Evolet

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