Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Writing for SPICE: Once upon a happy ending…or not.

by Jina Bacarr

In a previous post, I talked about writing for Harlequin Spice and the kinds of stories that work for that erotic line. Another question I'm often asked is: do Spice novels have to have a happy ending?

The general rule for Spice and Spice Briefs is that the ending must be satisfying. If the H/H don't end up together, the reader wants to feel that she has experienced a complete beginning, middle and end in the story. When she puts the book down, she wants the glow to remain; it doesn't always have to be that the H/H go off together, but that what they had was meaningful and changed them in some way.

Most likely, we've all had romantic experiences that didn't end in a permanent relationship, but the sweet memory stays with us. In my Spice Brief, Tokyo Rendezvous, the H/H are Americans working together in Japan--I based the story on my experiences working for Japanese companies. The Spice in the story occurs when the H/H go to a Love Hotel...

Here is the blurb from Tokyo Rendezvous:

"She found Tokyo intoxicating...but lonely. So when Steve, the object of her super-hot sexual fantasies, offers to introduce her to the Japan tourists never see--the erotic hideaways known as love hotels--she’s willing and eager. Designed to discretely accommodate the wildest fantasies of their patrons, these ports of pleasure offer very specialized accommodations, where she soon discovers levels of sensuality and pleasure like none she’s ever known..."

Remember, it's important to ask questions when you're not sure about the requirements of a specific line that you want to write for. And keep reading. I never stop learning. I'm always researching, editing, fine-tuning. It's like putting on a play--you write the script, hire the actors (your characters), build the sets, select the music, costumes, props and you're on your way.

You're the director.

The magic happens when the curtain goes up, that indefinable moment when your play comes to life...that's what we do when we write. It's the best feeling in the world!!

So let me ask you: how important to you is the HEA in erotic romance?

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February 2010: meet The Blonde Samurai

“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”


Katie Reus said...

HEA is very important to me. It's actually almost always a must, but there are some exceptions. When reading certain UF, I don't mind that the HEA sometimes takes a three book arc to get there. And, I don't mind an HFN in erotic romance if like you said, the author has done her job and has given me a satisfactory ending :) Great post, as always!

Wynter Daniels said...

I enjoy a HEA, but it's not a necessity for me. Tokyo Rendezvous was the first Spice Brief I read and I really enjoyed it!

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Jina!
For me a HEA is important no matter the genre. No, the hero and heroine don't have to end up married with 2.5 kids and a picket fence, but I love knowing they're together, happy and completed. I don't necessarily need to see it, but I love closing the book and imagining their lives together in my head. Am I a hopeless romantic? Yeah. I didn't need to see Cinderella's life in the castle, but it was enough to know she made it there.

Awesome post!!

Jina Bacarr said...

Thankz, everyone, for your nice comments. Here's to Romance and HEAs!