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    Scenes that Are Challenging to Write

    michelleMichele Karlsberg: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

    Liz McMullen: One of my biggest challenges as a writer is that I tend to write really tight scenes so when I edit, I need slow down a bit and ratchet up the pressure moment by moment, making my readers as breathless as my characters. I love going in draft after draft, enhancing the imagery and getting to the core emotion of an action sequence. This includes building in corners and plot twists that engage the reader, having them running alongside the protagonists as they plan their next move.

    I’m comfortable writing romance and erotica, but found it a challenge in my debut novel. If I Die Before I Wake is bookparanormal horror, not a romance. At the core, my novel is about friends working together to vanquish a common foe, out of sisterhood, rather than the thrill of conquest. There is a romantic subplot, but I wanted that to remain in the background, and not take over the focus of the book. I had to be very thoughtful regarding what I included. It took some effort, but I was able to strike a balance, with a fleeting, yet meaningful, romantic scene that enhanced the main plot without arresting the forward momentum of the storyline.

    Liz McMullen is a Mount Holyoke College graduate. She is an author, publisher, documentarian and talk show host. Her debut novel, “If I Die Before I Wake,” was a Rainbow Award Finalist. 

    Jeff Mann: Love scenes and sex scenes are pretty easy for me, probably because I have a lot of practice writing them in my historical novels and erotica. For me, action scenes are the hardest. The sentence structures need to be simple, fairly short, and almost staccato, to mimic the speed and intensity of what’s happening. Plus, the verbs need to be vivid and just right. (Not for nothing we English professors call them “action verbs.”)book2

    It’s also important to position the characters clearly in relation to other characters and to the surrounding setting, and to describe their movements in an efficient, uncluttered manner. Then, hopefully, a clear visual comes across to readers, as if they were watching a movie made from words. I’ve struggled with these difficulties in the battle/attack sequences that occasionally occur in my vampire fiction. My fanged protagonist, Derek Maclaine, has an entertaining penchant for overpowering hot young men and kicking homophobic ass!

    Jeff Mann has published four novels, three novellas, two collections of essays, two collections of short fiction, four volumes of poetry, and a book of memoir and poetry. He teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-six years of successful book campaigns.