It’s Entertainment Not Lectures

© Can Stock Photo / 4774344sean

One of my Facebook friends recently posted about Hollywood, saying, in part, All I’m asking is that you give me good characters, not tokens, and good stories, not lectures.

Such is the sorry state of the entertainment industry today. It’s no longer about entertaining. It’s about using entertainment to push a political agenda, and it’s not going over well with the general public. I think this is why TV ratings overall are down, and why there were fewer butts in seats at movie theaters long before Covid came along. I’ve never been much of a sports fan myself, but lately I’ve been reading plenty of news articles about how television ratings for professional sports have dropped dramatically now that the various sports leagues have made it about politics instead of playing the game. People seek out entertainment because they want to take a break from politics and just be entertained, and when you use entrainment to lecture people they’ll simply walk away.

My contemporary romance novels are written solely to entertain my readers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I wanted to lecture anyone I would write whatever nonfiction genre would be the most appropriate for the point I wanted to make. However, I made the choice to write contemporary romance. It’s my favorite genre, and like my readers, I simply want to be entertained.

Fiction revolves around conflict, and how the characters react to and resolve the conflict. That’s the essence of a plot line, regardless of the genre. I stick to the outcomes readers want and expect. Good overcomes evil. The antagonist suffers the consequences of his or her actions. However, I don’t lecture my readers. I’m a storyteller. My job is to entertain my readers with my stories. I’m neither a teacher or a preacher, nor do I want to be, and I leave the politics to the politicians.

Marina Martindale

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So Why Write Romance

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People sometimes ask me why I write contemporary romance as opposed to other genres, such as mystery or science fiction. To which I say, why not?

I write (sensual) contemporary romance because we all have hopes and dreams and a desire to be happy. That happiness, however, may elude us because of the poor choices we sometimes make. Most of us have experienced at least one romance that went sour, so it’s a genre many readers can relate to. Perhaps this may explain why romance is so popular.

Along with conflict driven storylines, I create characters who are realistic and believable. My protagonists aren’t heroes. They make bad decisions and they have to deal with the consequences of those bad decisions. Sometimes an antagonist will learn from his or her mistake and try to do better. Most, however, remain defiant. Either way, they too have to live with the consequences of their actions, and a few even pay the ultimate price for their sins.

The one thing you won’t find in my stories is gushy, gooey schmaltz. For those who like that kind of melodrama, it’s out there, but that kind of storytelling isn’t my style. My inspiration comes from my own life experiences, and the stories others have told me. Readers tell me they feel the connection, and they like how believable my stories are. This is the highest compliment a reader can give an author. 

This is why I write romance. It’s the one genre where I can dig deeper into the relationships we have with others and try to better understand the human experience.

Marina Martindale

 
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Writing Relationship Fiction

Photo of an open book with stars coming out of it.
© Can Stock Photo/kudryashka

This may sound arrogant, or perhaps hokey, but I sometimes get weary of hearing myself say, “I write contemporary romance novels,” whenever I’m asked about what I do. People think I’m writing cheap, schmaltzy novels. Or they think I’m writing erotica. Neither is the case, as there is so much more to what I write.

I write stories about human relationships. Love isn’t limited to a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after. Love is about all kinds of human relationships. The love of a parent to a child. The love between siblings. Even the platonic love between close friends. The romance between and man and a woman is only a part of my stories.

For example

One of my contemporary romance novels, The Journey includes a heartwarming subplot about the relationship between brothers Jeremy and Larry Palmer, as Larry puts his own life on hold to help his ailing brother through a life altering crisis. That’s true love. 

In The Deception, another contemporary romance novel, a father literally takes a bullet meant for his child. That too is true love. 

The Betrayal, another contemporary romance novel, includes a story of a long estranged aunt who finally lets go of the rivalry she carried for her deceased sister and reaches out to her niece, accepting her like another daughter. That too is love.

The reason why I write contemporary romance, as opposed to science fiction or mystery or horror, is because I’ve always been fascinated by the complexity and dynamics of human relationships. Not only between lovers, but between close friends and family members as well. Of course those relationships can be part of the storyline in those other genres. However, the romance genre is the only one where the primary focus is on human relationships.


Marina Martindale

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Stuck in a Literary Sexual Rut

An open book with two pages folded together in the shape of a heart.
Photo by Fotolia.

 

Oh the problems one encounters when writing contemporary romance. As I explained in my earlier blog post, Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romancethere is a distinct difference between sensual romance and erotica. In sensual romance, the “romance” scenes are written to enhance the plot as the characters consummate their relationship. The emphasis is on what they’re feeling.

That said, as I’m working on my third novel, The Journey, I found myself in a bit of a rut when writing those scenes. Let’s face it. There are only two kinds of equipment out there, and that equipment only works in certain ways. I was starting to worry that my writing might be become too redundant.
So, I decided to do a little research and downloaded a copy of an anthology called Little Birds, by Anais Nin.

Ms. Nin is perhaps the literary madam of erotic literature. I thought I might learn something new about writing from her. What I found, at least in my opinion, were stories that were a little cold. The characters were one-dimensional and lacked passion. Afterwards, I looked at my own writing. I think there’s something to be said for writing about what the characters are feeling, emotionally as well as physically. As for the redundancy; I suppose it is what it is. Even Ms. Nin’s stories were a bit redundant. Yet decades later, readers still enjoy them. I guess there are some things in life that people will never get tired of. Like chocolate cake.


Marina Martindale

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Sweet Sensual or Erotic Romance?

 
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The romance genre, including contemporary romance, has three distinct sub-genres. They are:

  • Sweet Romance
  • Sensual Romance
  • Erotic Romance or Erotica

Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG.

Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes. They are used to enhance the plot, but unlike erotica, in sensual romance there is no harsh language. The descriptions are not overtly graphic. The emphasis is on the character’s emotions as they consummate their relationship, but unlike erotica, the plot line doesn’t revolve around the sex scenes. Most of the action takes place outside of the bedroom. 

Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic. It may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. The story really isn’t about two people falling in love. It’s about the characters having sex and plenty of it.

Why I write sensual romance

I write sensual romance because it’s the sub-genre I enjoy reading, and it’s what today’s readers expect. My lead characters make love, but only after they’re emotionally invested in the relationship. Once their relationship is consummated, I typically don’t write another sex scene because it would be redundant. The only exception would be if the characters have been separated for an extended period of time and are reestablishing their relationship.

From time to time, however, a lead character becomes involved with the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Typically, it will happen early in the story, before the two lead characters have begun their relationship. On those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently.

For example, in my upcoming novel The Deception, Carrie, the female lead, has just ended a long-term relationship. She then meets Scott, a man who isn’t who he appears to be. Scott knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable so he takes advantage of her. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier, but even then, the scenes aren’t overly graphic. I’m more interested in what the characters are feeling in the moment. 

If you’re looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I’m afraid you won’t find it in my contemporary romance novels. However, if you’re looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I hope you’ll give one of my books a read.

Marina Martindale

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