I guess because I’ve been writing m/m romantic fiction for some time now, I get asked by writers new to the genre how I got started, and where I get my ideas from. This article isn’t advice to fledging writers by any means—just maybe some helpful hints I have accrued over the years.
I started writing in this genre about five years ago. Until then I’d been writing gay romantic fiction without the erotic edge. Yes, my men kissed, caressed and fell in love, but the love making was, in a word, discreet. When I wrote My Vampire and I, I opened the bedroom door and let the guys go for the gold, and after reading the words of one reviewer – “What a delightful surprise from J.P. Bowie” I figured I’d found my niche.
Elisa Rolle, our favorite Italian reviewer, also pointed out that although the story was about creatures of the night, there was a lot of humor in it, and very little angst, something I strive for in all my stories. Even in my darker tales, I have to inject some humor. Readers have to first love, or at least really like, the characters. They must want to cheer for them as the heroes’ mutual attraction grows and their lips meet for that first kiss. The readers must feel fundamentally involved in the men’s lives and want them to succeed. If that doesn’t happen then the writer has failed in some way to convey the hopes and fears of the protagonists, and to make the reader care for them.
Writing m/m erotic romance isn’t just a case of stringing sex scenes together. Quite often, too much sex in a story can get a bit boring after a while. Here’s where the character building comes in. The men should be real flesh and blood characters, not just buffed and gorgeous with big dicks. On the other hand, all that combined with intelligence, compassion, a sense of worth—and please, a sense of humor—will earn you points from most readers!
Then there’s the plot. Even in a short story there should be more than just boy meets boy, boy beds boy, and they live happily ever after. Yes, HEA’s are pretty much called for by most m/m publishers, but getting there should involve some conversation, perhaps some conflict (rather than angst), indecision, maybe even betrayal, something to hold the readers’ interest other than the fact the lads are buffed and gorgeous with big you-know-whats. I like mystery and adventure stories so a lot of my books contain those elements; even my paranormal stories tend to lean toward a mystery to be solved or action sequences. Anything to get the readers’ attention, and not have them skipping pages.
If you’re a new author, or yet to be published, gird your loins for those first reviews. Every author has had a rotten egg thrown at him or her at one time or another. Once your work is out there it’s fair game for everyone who thinks he/she can do better. Some are good and constructive critiques, others are simply destructive. But hey, it goes with the territory, and I, who have had my fair share of rotten eggs, try to learn from even the worst review.
Writing m/m erotic romance is above all else, fun. You get to invent these great characters, have them fall in love, have mind-blowing sex, chase villains on horseback or in cars or planes, have mind-blowing sex, face down bigotry, put the world to rights, have mind-blowing…Well, you get the idea. All you wannabe m/m writers out there – go for it, and have fun!