A Clash of Titans: Love vs. Honor in the Romance Novel

Red rose besiegedAlmost as soon as we can understand stories, we are taught to recognize the conflicts that drive them. Heroes are pitted against villains; natural settings are pitted against the encroachment of humankind; the temptation to do the profitable thing is pitted against the drive to do the right thing.

Many genres are shaped by the conflicts that appear most frequently within them. The American Realist movement, for example, is well-known for its focus on the conflicts between humankind and the unfeeling vastness of nature. Meanwhile, Modernist literature can be loosely defined by its obsession with the conflict between the act of linguistic representation and the object being represented.

Those of us who aspire to greatness in the romance and erotica genres, however, are typically more interested in the age-old conflict between the characters’ feelings of love and the characters’ senses of honor. Although this conflict may seem like a very basic battle that has already been discussed thoroughly in Romeo and Juliet, it is in reality a complex and powerful theme that can be used to fuel a wide variety of plots.

‘Honor’ means different things to different people, and it certainly means different things to different narratives. In historical settings, ‘honor’ often refers to a heroine’s ties to her birth family and the duties that come with them. In modern settings, the part of honor can be played by a host of social requirements, from a lawyer’s obligation to stay distant from her client to a billionaire’s sense that he shouldn’t be too friendly with his housekeeper.

Whatever form honor takes, it is always love’s job to turn it on its head for the sake of desire. Love is a loose cannon; love mucks up the line of succession and interferes with professional obligations and generally relieves our heroes of their dignity at every turn. Although it can be sweet and gentle and monogamous, it doesn’t have to be. In terms of narrative structure, the CEO who yearns to be disciplined by his secretary is just as much in love as the Laird’s daughter pining for her pirate captain. The important thing about love in a romance narrative is not that it swoons or broods or writes poems in a particular way, but rather that it picks a fight with honor and wins.

A Gothic Novel’s Home is its Creepy Castle

Gualdo CattaneoHuman beings have never stopped being impressed by castles. From the days when they stood tall against Viking raiders to this modern age of ruins and tourist attractions, these magnificent buildings have been the scene of some of our most marvelous fantasies.

One genre of literature that owes a particular debt to those ancient builders is the Gothic novel. Although this genre is rightly considered to be intertwined with the rest of the Romantic movement, it deserves some special attention because of the unique mark it left on the literary world. This is the genre that gave us the dark, brooding antihero, the dark secret locked in a forbidden room, and (perhaps most importantly) the narrative of the captive heroine trying desperately to escape the confines of the terrifying castle.

Like the soaring outdoor settings found in other Romantic fiction, the setting of the Gothic castle transforms the novel’s characters through the power of the sublime. However, where Byron’s peaks and Shelley’s frozen wastes transform through an almost divine experience, the looming castles of Radcliffe and Reeve transform their occupants by exposing them to horror. Ghostly or Satanic figures, carnal temptation, sensational violence, and maddening isolation all drive the narrative’s heroine to her escape with her lover – or, as in Matthew Lewis’ famously scandalous novel The Monk – to her untimely and gruesome death. Many Gothic novels resonate with the theme of punishment for sexual self-expression. Sometimes, the character is allowed to escape and find redemption outside the castle walls. However, characters are just as often left to perish in agony, sometimes by Satan himself.

The Gothic castle still stands in contemporary fiction, from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth to the sad story of Sansa Stark in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Modern writers speak to an audience much more difficult to scandalize than the readers of The Monk and The Castle of Otranto; they therefore have much more leeway when it comes to what misadventures their characters will face and what lessons the characters will learn. From the coldly traditional confines of an ancient fortress to the tentacular temptation of the Lovecraftian milieu, writers of modern Gothic novels have a wide array of unnerving elements they can use to terrify and transform  their characters.

Tips on writing erotica from Misty Wells

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If people wanted the ‘p’ stuff, this is where they’d go.

Here are some tips on writing erotica from Misty Wells. Enjoy!

The Basics

Yes, the purpose of your story is primarily to arouse, but people also read erotica to escape into a fantasy world. To create an effective one, you’ll need a little more than a few dirty words and some naughty situations. Along with your graphic, steamy scenes, a solid plot and well developed characters will get you a long way.

Spellcheck Is Your Friend

Erotica may have a different purpose to other genres, but the basic rules of writing still apply. Check your spelling. Be careful with your grammar. Once you’re done with your first draft, edit, edit, edit, and ALWAYS have someone proofread your work for anything you may have missed. Sloppy writing is unappealing and unsexy. Ask people for feedback, and listen to it; there is always room for improvement.

Don’t Be Bashful

Though erotica isn’t p^^n, it still needs to be naughty and very rude – there really is no room for shyness! Don’t be afraid to use words you would never usually use, or write about things that you’ve never experienced. You might feel a little awkward, giggly or self-conscious at first, but you’ll stop blushing soon enough. You could even explore some of your own fantasies…

Research

As with all writing, it’s important to do your research. If you have no personal experience of a certain act you want to write about, the internet will be more than happy to help (remember rule 34.) You might even find yourself looking up some run-of-the-mill stuff, like what one of your character’s jobs involves, for example. Boring, yes, but if you want a good story it’s still essential.

Take Your Work Seriously!

Yes, writing dirty stories can be awkward at times. Sprinkling a bit of humour into your work is fine, but don’t write it in inappropriately, don’t make a scene comic to ease any awkwardness you might feel whilst writing it, and please, please don’t try to make jokes with the reader. They want smut, not one-liners.

Don’t Try To Emulate the Ups and Downs of Real Sex

Foot cramp, false starts, not really being in the mood… just don’t go there. I’ll trust you to know why.

Watch Your Dialogue

Dirty talk from your characters is good. Great, even. But make it dirty. Don’t use terms like ‘penis’ or ‘vagina.’ Make good use of the harder words – your readers want a naughty experience. Curse, be rude, lose your inhibitions and your characters will too. Romantic dialogue is fine, but make sure there’s a sexy edge to it – you don’t want more cheese than a mouse’s treat cupboard.

Avoid Clichés

As with all writing, keep it exciting. Mix it up and let your imagination run away with you. Don’t use unimaginative similes or metaphors. If the last five books you read all have a scene containing the same act, don’t use it in your story. If you want to write something in but haven’t seen anything similar in anything else you’ve read, then brilliant! All the more reason to use it.

Lastly – Read Other Erotica

Not only will this feed you ideas for your own work, it’ll also give you a better idea of the styles and techniques generally used in erotic writing. In any genre, the best writers are the most avid readers; erotica is no exception.

At His Pleasure – An Erotic Historical Romance

At His Pleasure by Melissa Harding

 Principal category Erotica
 Word count (approximate pages) 31,100 (70)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $2.99

 

Special deal on Melissa’s raunchy medieval romp!

Compendium of the first 3 books in the popular ‘Ruling of Bess’ series:

His Word Is Law

Bess is a creature of the forest – free-spirited and happy with her life. One day, as is the custom, she is bride-captured by the local lord of the manor, the handsome and powerful Raoul. Bess must be taught civilised ways and that means the acceptance of her husband’s absolute rule and the consequences of disobedience.

Her Shaming

Bess’ disobedience has gone too far and Raoul must be seen to properly punish her or risk unrest among his subjects. Much more severe measures are called for than normal – no mere spanking will do. Raoul has grown to admire his new wife’s spirit, though, and doesn’t want to hurt her. What will win through?

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Eyes Like A Hawk

Seeing it as a way of escaping her confines for a few hours, Bess takes an interest in falconry. Unfortunately, getting carried away with the occasion, she then goes against the strict instructions of her husband, lord and master. As a result, Raoul is forced to take her to task in the most severe of manners.

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Obey Thy Master

Obey Thy Master by Melissa Harding

 Principal category Erotica
 Word count (approximate pages) 31,000 (87)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $2.99

The complete O+Bay Club series (3 books for the price of 2)

Measure of Control

The prequel to the O-Bay Club. Set in the 50’s, Lily is a bored housewife who is trying hard to get the attention of her somewhat remote husband Lawrence. Eventually he resorts to spanking her and, when she takes refuge with her best friend Charlotte, the two husbands join forces. Then, along with some workmates, the men set up a club to ensure punishments are both fair and moderated. The O-Bay Club is born.

The O-Bay Club

Michael is invited to join a male-run club whose sole function is the correct training and disciplining of the membership’s female partners. Betty soon learns the consequences of pushing Michael too far – punishment by committee and in public, too!

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Curbing Her Compulsion

Beverley’s a fashion-conscious lady so, when the landlord of the pub she works at asks her to ‘smarten up a bit’ for the new posher clientele, she sees it as an opportunity to refresh her wardrobe. Unfortunately the credit card bill is too much for her husband and he decides to take her along to the next meeting of the dreaded O-Bay Club for some much needed disciplining.

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Eyes Like A Hawk

Eyes Like A Hawk

 Principal category Erotica
 Word count (approximate pages) 10,700 (31)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

Bess gets her wings clipped!

Winter is setting in and Bess is finding life in the castle more trying than usual. Raoul, her husband and Lord of the Castle, is having a new peregrine falcon trained up for his use but although she clearly takes an interest in a creature which she sees as a kindred spirit, he has forbidden her to go to the mews on her own. She does, of course, and unusually for Raoul, he gives her a choice regarding the punishment for her disobedience.

As fate has a habit of doing where Bess is concerned, her choice leads on to a further and far graver misdemeanour which not only brings her into danger, but incurs Raoul’s wrath, all the greater for his having feared for her life.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

 

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Curbing Her Compulsion

Principal category Erotica
Word count (approximate pages) 10,800 (36)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

The story of the O-Bay club concludes

Beverley is very interested in clothes and fashion, so when the landlord at the pub where she works asks her to dress in a more sophisticated manner to accord with the pub’s new look, she is hurt and overreacts, splashing out on expensive designer clothes.

In the past, Beverley has paid for her ‘clothes habit’ out of her wages, but when her husband Raymond catches her in a lie about what she’s been doing, he not only puts a stop to it but also takes her to the O-Bay Club. This Club, which he has just joined, affords him a place to give his wife a public spanking away from home.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

Unable to pay for her extravagant purchases, Beverly tries to steal cash from Raymond’s wall safe but he catches her in the act and once again takes her to the O-Bay Club. This time the punishment is administered by another man, who does not have the same emotional attachment and can therefore give her a particularly hard time.

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Taste For Danger

Taste for danger

Principal category Erotica
Word count (approximate pages) 10,700 (30)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

Third book in the Disciplining of Mia series

Mia has got what she wants: a relationship with Rafe, the man she loves, in which his dominant personality and her submissive one can be fully exercised. She delights in the fact that they look like an ‘ordinary’ couple and other people are not aware of their secret, namely, that every part of her belongs to him.

After a boring night in the theatre, he tries out a new device on her as she lies helplessly tied and blindfolded: he drips candle wax all over her oiled body. While he is showering her afterwards, it transpires that Luna, their employee, is due to come and ‘play’ – only that neither is aware of having invited her.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

Luna’s presence immediately changes the dynamic between the couple, causing Mia to behave badly and incur a spanking with hand and belt from Rafe. They proceed directly from there into a threesome, which exhausts and satisfies them, but which terminates in Luna making an unexpected and unwelcome declaration of love to Mia.

Rafe drags out of Mia what it is that is bothering her, and Mia is surprised that Rafe doesn’t defend the other woman. It seems they would both prefer to be always just the two of them, and to celebrate, Rafe proposes the purchase of a new toy with which to complete Mia’s punishment for her bad behavior.

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Taste of Possession

Taste of Possession

Principal category Erotica
Word count (approximate pages) 10,300 (26)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

Mia gets taught a lesson

Mia expected her newly discovered dominant/submissive relationship with Rafe to continue without interruption, but when Rafe goes away, she illogically blames Luna, their employee, for bringing their natures out into the open in the first place. Luna responds by subjecting Mia to her own brand of domination, which includes a hard spanking.

Luna has had a handle on Rafe’s disappearance and he now suddenly returns. Mia reassures him that she desperately desires what he has to offer, and he provides a lesson in impulse control, using a tool she has never seen before – a vibrating wand.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

Taste of Possession was written by Misty Wells and is the second book in the Disciplining Mia series.

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First Taste

First Taste

Principal category Erotica
Word count (approximate pages) 10,300 (27)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

Let the disciplining of Mia begin!

Mia runs a company that represents musicians and artists from her home along with her long-time friend, Rafe. She’s also bisexual and is finding their single employee, the beautiful and seductive Luna, extremely exasperating. Working late one evening, Luna decides to prove a point by demonstrating Mia’s natural submissiveness to her.

Later Mia finds out that Luna has been encouraging Rafe to explore his dominant side – a characteristic which he demonstrates most unequivocally when he takes a belt to Mia.

Luna is rewarded for her efforts by becoming a member of the threesome.

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First Taste was written by Misty Wells and is the first book in the Disciplining Mia series.

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