Questions Answered: Tense, Balance, and Where to Put the Lovin'


First, Happy Valentines Day to everyone! : ) I hope you all have a fun day full of love, chocolate, or whatever makes you happy.


Now, last week I opened up the comments to any question you guys may have. So I thought today would be a good day to answer those. And if these questions spark any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Alright, first, Jessica asked  "there have recently been a few discussions on tense past/present . Do you have a preference when writing?"

I think this is truly a personal preference question. There is nothing wrong with using either, though I have heard a few agents/editors lament about present tense on occasion. I personally have no desire to write in present tense. My thoughts naturally happen in past tense, so I'd have to fight that to write any other way. However, I have read a number of present tense YA books that I enjoyed.


The warning I will give is that present tense is much harder to pull off than past tense, so if you go that route, know that you'll have to pull it off flawlessly. I've critiqued a number of different people via contests and such that have tried the present tense thing and it just didn't work. And very often, those manuscripts are the ones with the most mistakes in tense switching (slipping into past tense by accident every few paragraphs.) So I would say if you choose to do present tense, make sure you have a good reason why and not just because you want to be "different". Yes, it can feel more immediate and intense in present tense, but be aware of some of the problems you could face as well (some outlined here.)

Kayleen asked: "How do you juggle all the things you have to do in a day? That seems to be a consistent battle at my house."

You're not alone, it's a constant battle for me too. We just moved my kiddo to 5 half days a week of preschool so that I could find more uninterrupted writing time. All I can say is that the only thing that works for me is squeezing in writing time (whether it be computer time or thinking through the story time) wherever I can. The thinking part happens in the shower or while I'm supervising kidlet's bath or when I'm laying in bed before I fall asleep. I make a conscious point to think on the story, work out problems I'm having in a scene, planning the next scene, etc. so that when I do get that time in front of the laptop I'm ready to get actual words on the page.


I also am in the ongoing battle of learning how to say "no" sometimes. I get asked to critique or guest blog or judge a contest pretty regularly and I always want to say yes. I like doing those things. But I'm realizing that sometimes I'm going to have to say no because if I say yes to it all, my writing time goes to that instead of to writing and that's not good.

So I know that's probably not an overly helpful answer, but the truth of the matter is...something will always get pushed to the side. I just try to make sure it's not my husband, my kidlet, or my writing. If laundry isn't always caught up or there are dishes in the sink when I go to bed at night, I'm okay with that. Those things can wait (for a little while at least.) : )

Karla asked "Since you write and read erotic romance, I'd love to hear your opinion/thoughts on this: How early in the book do you think the first erotic scene should fall -- and/or -- how long is too long to make the reader wait for that first blazing hot encounter? "

Okay, so this is a question near and dear to me because I struggled with this exact thing in my book. Many erotic romances you read--especially the ebooks--have a sexy scene or full out love scene VERY early, like first chapter early. The thought I guess is that--this is erotic, let's set that tone immediately. I'm okay with that structure. I've seen it pulled off beautifully many times. However, I don't agree that it HAS to happen that early. My first sexy scene in my book isn't until the end of chapter four and even then it's a flashback scene and no actual sex happens.


I actually got points off when I entered a contest because I didn't have a love scene in that first thirty pages. But lo and behold, the book got me the agent and book deal. Why? Because I apparently did what was right for the story. I couldn't have my couple get together that early. They were past lovers and had some MAJOR issues between them to deal with before they could even be in the same room with one another, much less the same bed. It wouldn't have worked.

So Karla told me not to tell her "it depends on the story" lol, so I'm going to say--do what is right for your characters. If you have enough sexual tension building, readers will hang with you for that love scene and then just think how delicious it will be after all that build up? However, don't forget that key--if you have no sexual tension and you go on and on with narrative in an erotic romance (or any romance) then people are going to be checking the spine thinking--wait, this is a romance, right? Plant the seeds, the sexy thoughts, clue us in to how viscerally the hero and heroine are affected by each other--promise us the hot love scene that way then make sure you deliver what you promise.

Alright, so those are my answers. Thanks for the questions! What do you guys think? Agree/disagree on these issues? And any other questions pop up while reading this?