Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3 tips to set the mood for romance


You know how sometimes, you just aren’t in the mood for romance?

Yeah, me neither.

But I’ll admit there have been moments I’m not in the right zone to write love scenes. Since that’s a big part of what I do as a romance author – and since deadlines often force me to get in the mood RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT! – it can be a challenge to produce the desired results under less-than-ideal circumstances.

So what’s a struggling romance author to do?

Provoke your senses
We read it all the time in women’s magazines – the key to stimulating the libido is stimulating the senses. It’s not much different when it comes to prepping for love scenes. Is there a fragrance that tends to put you in the right mindset? I keep an array of candles in my office and try to pick the scent that’s likely to get me in the right mode for a certain scene. Ditto that for scented lotions and perfumes. Music? Check. I make iTunes playlists that tend to trigger certain moods.

Even what I’m wearing can have an impact on my writerly mojo. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve found myself churning out ho-hum dialogue and looked down to realize I’m dressed like a colorblind, homeless yoga instructor. That’s usually enough to send me marching upstairs to don something with a little more sex appeal. That doesn’t mean I sit here writing in stilettos and a sequined bustier, but if you’d wandered into my office yesterday afternoon, you would have found me in a short skirt and cute top. Hey, whatever works.

Learn your triggers
A lot of people believe romance authors work in a perpetual state of sexual arousal. OK, sometimes that’s true. But I’ve discovered there’s not necessarily a direct correlation between my mood and the tone of the scene. Many of my sexiest love scenes have been written when I’m in a more melancholy frame of mind. If there’s a thunderstorm outside, even better.

While I don’t necessarily need to be in a flirty mood to produce a playful love scene, I’ve learned never to attempt one when I’m angry. There’s something decidedly unsexy about two naked people bitching at each other as a form of foreplay.

Find a fluffer
Raise your hand if you know the term “fluffer.” For those of you less familiar with the pornographic arts, a fluffer is a hired member of an adult film crew whose job it is to sexually arouse the male performers prior to filming.

I’ll pause for a moment so you can go scrub your brain with sandpaper (or for those of you intrigued by the idea, so you can go google the phrase “fluffer job opportunities.”)

In all seriousness, there’s a lot to be said for this concept. Is there a scene in your favorite book or movie that leaves you feeling warm and tingly? Take advantage of that when you need it. Is there a person in your life who produces the same result with flirty words or a smoldering look? Put yourself in that person’s proximity when the need arises. Find a source you know consistently leaves you squirming, and keep that source handy for when you need to flip the switch.

With a little imagination, you can extend most of these tips to apply to just about any sort of scene you might need to write. Bottom line, it’s worth knowing what sort of mood you need to have to create the tone you’re aiming for. Once you’ve nailed that down, figure out what it takes to get yourself there.

How do you set the mood for specific types of writing? Please share!

And please let me know what you learn about those fluffer job openings. Hypothetically, of course.


15 comments :

Shakespeare said...

I admit, the "fluffer" job is not one I'd want. I would MUCH rather be fluffed.

I find writing intensifies my erotic state. Even scenes that are not really erotic do this with me, especially ones describing elements of touch. If I'm setting up a scene where *cough* some physical activity takes place, I often reread the events leading up to it. If the scene works in sequence, then the urges are already there, and it's easier for me to write what happens next.

Reading and watching films does the same, and I don't need porn for it to happen. Some films have the PERFECT kiss, or just a look, or just a touch--and I'm there. I used to listen to romance books on tape while I commuted, but I found it, ahem, hard not to sit in the car instead of walking into work.

Wow, I shared more than I'd intended...

Sarah W said...

Oh, mercy, I raised my hand. Darned HBO.

I use music, mostly, to trigger the mood I want . . . being far away from my laptop and/or in important meetings seems to be a major trigger, too --- though more for murders than love scenes.

I'll admit that I've bookmarked some YouTube videos of dramatic and romatic clips that have the flavor of what I hope to create.

And also of Karl Urban, because I like looking at him.

Linda G. said...

Geez Lou-ise! The things you learn around here! Hmm. Think TG will mind if I change his nickname to "Fluffer"?

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm too out of shape to get myself in the mood for all the sword fights I write, so I just get drunk instead.

Patty Blount said...

Fortunately, I have a vivid imagination and find I can easily recall any number of things to set that mood.

So... um... what's the fluffer equivalent for female performers ? Just wondering.

Tawna Fenske said...

Shakespeare, don't worry...oversharing is embraced and accepted on this blog :)

Sarah, and now I'm off to google Karl Urban...!

Linda G, I try to keep at least five or six fluffers on staff around here at all times. Snicker..."staff"

Matthew, hey, whatever rolls your socks up!

Patty, the term "fluffer" actually originated from old time movie sets when someone would be hired specifically to keep the actresses' hair fluffed!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Tawna

Danica Avet said...

I'm raising my hand but I'm going to blame it on that show Six Feet Under. I saw one episode ever and it just so happened to be about a porn star.

Most of the time, the scene starts without me realizing it and next thing I know, I have blood pressure problems *cough* If I'm not in the mood though, I'll take a catnap and let my mind relax. That's when my hero appears and um entertains my brain. Honest. But don't tell the heroine that okay?

dianehenders said...

"Fluffer". See, this is why I read your blog. It's so educational.

"Bottom" line? "Nailed" it down? *snickers*

I'm NEVER "not in the mood" to write the good stuff. Maybe because the hot scenes aren't part of my planning process at all. I just plan the plot and structure. Then I'm writing along and all of a sudden one of my characters says or does something and, woohoo, the sparks are flying.

'Scuse me, I have to go do some writing now.

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I love Erin McCarthy. I have to say that any one of her series about race car drivers can put me in the mood whether it's for writing a steamy scene or 'perfoming' one. (Actually just looking at the covers raises my blood pressure.)

In one of Julia Cameron's books about writing or being an artist she says that it's a luxury for a writer or an artist to be in the mood to create. You have to do it whether you're in the mood or not.

Judy,Judy,Judy. said...

I love Erin McCarthy. I have to say that any one of her series about race car drivers can put me in the mood whether it's for writing a steamy scene or 'perfoming' one. (Actually just looking at the covers raises my blood pressure.)

In one of Julia Cameron's books about writing or being an artist she says that it's a luxury for a writer or an artist to be in the mood to create. You have to do it whether you're in the mood or not.

Jason said...

Yes, I know the term...I'm actually surprised it took so long to show up on your blog. :)

The Sprouting Acorn said...

fluffer… blowing hot air… hahahahahaha
i suppose there's someone out there who thinks they've got the perfect "job." hahahahaha

Patrick Alan said...

I'll send you that poster of me climbing out of my pool dripping wet for you to use as a 'fluffer' for your "writing".

You want the motion sensing audio player option, too, right?

Look at me. Now look at my pool. Now look back at me. Who is all wet?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Well, gosh, thanks for expanding my education. Never know what you're going find out about around here.

urthalun.com said...

We love the word "fluffer" around here so much that we use it inappropiately as often as possible.
Julie
And hey, I have a sort of local question to ask you... will you be in Eugene at any point on your promotional world tour? It would be great to have this information AHEAD OF TIME! Rather than, ya know, minutes after you have left to head back over the mountain.