Tag Archives: virginia kantra

Calling All Readers!

I love conferences. There is nothing more energizing and inspiring then getting together with other authors and talking books. As a writer you always need to learn, grow, and perfect your skills. At certain point in time, however, you have to step out from behind the desk and start interacting with your end user, your readers.  This year Liberty States Fiction Writers has given me the opportunity to create a forum for authors and readers to come together to hang out, have a little fun, and talk books at our Create Something Magical Conference. The conference will be held on March 17, 2012, so with registration starting very soon, I thought I’d give a sneak peak of what we have in store for the readers and writers that join us for our inaugural reader’s event.

Have you always wanted to attend Lady Jane’s Salon, but never had the opportunity? Well, here’s your chance. We will be starting things off with drinks, dessert and readings.  From there you’ll have the opportunity to hang out with some of you r favorite authors such as Larissa Ione, Katharine Ashe, Virginia Kantra, Jonathan Maberry, Ally Blue, Sarah MacLean and many more. Of course, there will be a book signing so you’ll have the chance to check a few items off of your to buy list. Finally, we’ll end the day with a little dinner and a lot of dancing.

That’s just the tip of the ice berg. We’ll have games and prizes as well as a few other surprises in store. So I hope we’ll see some of you on March 17, 2012 at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel.

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Fight Scenes and Love Scenes – Seven Tips to Writing Action by Virginia Kantra

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Virginia Kantra credits her love for strong heroes and courageous heroines to a childhood spent devouring fairy tales.

The author of more than twenty books, Virginia is an eight-time finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards and the winner of numerous industry honors, including two National Readers’ Choice Awards. After writing her popular “MacNeill Brothers” and “Trouble in Eden” category series, Virginia turned her hand to single title romance. Her new series, Children of the Sea, continues with Forgotten Sea in bookstores now! Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of three kids, Virginia is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling, and the power of love.

Her favorite thing to make for dinner? Reservations.

Fight scenes and love scenes involve two (or more) characters in the grip of strong, basic emotion grappling at close quarters.  These are action scenes, larger than life moments that evoke our readers’ emotions and propel our stories forward.

Understanding the similarities between fight scenes and love scenes can help us identify strategies to make both kinds of action stronger.

1. Action springs from character.

What our characters do reveals who they are.

How your characters act and react in action scenes will depend on their

Level of skill

Experience

Emotions

Because our fictional characters are often larger than life, we can choose to make them exceptionally well-endowed or talented.  We can write kickass heroines or sexually skilled heroes.  But to avoid writing generic fight and love scenes, keep in mind what your characters know, how they learned it, and what they bring to this particular encounter, at this moment, in this mood.

The more aware you are of your characters, the more they can surprise you and the reader.  Think of Indiana Jones pulling his gun to shoot his sword-wielding opponent in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  His action is credible and in character, yet it’s also a wonderful surprise.

2. Players in an action scene should be well matched.

Tension springs from conflict.  In fight scenes, your antagonist should be strong enough to defeat the hero, to put the outcome of the fight in question.

Your lovers should be equally matched.  While the hero and the heroine in a love scene don’t threaten each other physically (well, except for that wonderful scene in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are rolling around shooting at each other), you can increase the tension by making them vulnerable to each other in other ways.  Again, put the outcome of the scene in question.  Will the skilled rake seduce the well-brought-up virgin?  Or will she turn the tables by taking control?

3. Every character in an action scene should have a goal.

Unless your characters are drunk or otherwise judgment impaired, they should have an objective, a desired outcome, going into the scene. Whether that goal is to avoid a confrontation or to start one, to establish intimacy or distance, your characters shouldn’t jump into a fight or into bed without some kind of purpose.  What do they want?  What are they prepared to do to get it?

Remember what I said above about tension springing from conflict.  Your character must have a stake in the outcome of the scene.  Which brings me to my next point.

4. Action scenes should impact the plot.

Fight scenes and love scenes should impact both the characters’ emotional arc and the development of the story.  Scenes should not be stuck into the story because sex titillates or violence sells, but because the action of the scene changes things for the participants.  Maybe the fight clears the air.  Maybe sex changes the balance of power.  Maybe somebody gets hurt.

As with any other scene, fight and sex scenes should advance the plot and either complicate or help resolve the conflict.  The action should be significant and relevant to the rest of the story.

5. What’s going on?  Choreographed action and emotional progression.

How much detail you include in your fight and love scenes will depend in part on your story, your style, and your subgenre.  Lengthy descriptions of scenery will slow your pacing, but a brief depiction of setting will establish both the mood and the “field of battle.”

You don’t need to choreograph every movement. But the action should

Be possible

Be plausible

Flow

Fighting and making love are ultimate physical expressions of intense emotion. Your characters and your readers should be plunged into the scene, not outside watching it.  Use visceral detail: pounding hearts and sweaty palms. Sensory description can add to the immediacy of the action, but focus on how each touch, each scent, each sensory trigger makes your characters feel.  Dialogue can increase either the intimacy or the conflict, but it should be brief and to the point.

6. Actions have consequences. 

Even if the fight is won, even if the sex is great, action scenes often end in unforeseen disaster.  Now the bad guy knows where they are.  Now the hero is injured.  Now the heroine is emotionally vulnerable or pregnant.

Ask yourself, how are things better or worse as a result of this action?

7. Both fight and love scenes should escalate throughout the book to the climax.

Your characters should grow through the course of the story.

The villain should get stronger.

The stakes should get higher.

The tension should mount.

And all that pulse-pounding emotion, all that evocative detail, the pain and the ecstasy, should be that much more.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, here are two brief excerpts from Forgotten Sea, the intro to a fight scene and the intro to a love scene.  These aren’t full scenes.  But as you read, see how the different elements discussed above come into play, the way the characters’ objectives and emotions, the setting, stakes, and visceral details help bring the action to life.

THE FIGHT, p.185

Black birds ringed the parking lot like spectators at a boxing match. Or vultures.

Justin’s heart jack-hammered. The three men from the diner had Lara trapped between a big rig and the Jeep.

At least this time none of her attackers was possessed by a demon.

That he knew of.

A chill chased over his skin. Briefly, he met Lara’s gaze, blazing in her pale face. “Get inside.”

She opened her mouth to argue before she figured out his order was for the benefit of their audience. Pressing her lips together, she took two jerky steps toward him.

Tattoos took the toothpick from his mouth and pitched it to the ground. “I say she stays.”

“Let her go,” Justin said evenly.

The stocky man with the weary eyes met his gaze. “Or what? You’ll call the cops?”

Duck into the diner, leaving her alone? Risk having the cops run a make on their stolen Jeep?

“We don’t want trouble,” Justin said again.

Tattoos laughed.

The man in the red bandanna crossed his arms over his chest. “Then call off your spies.”

 Spies?

 “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Justin said.

“Call ’em off, or your girlfriend’s going back to Heaven ahead of schedule.”

But Lara was easing between the Jeep and the truck, retreating toward the diner, securing herself space and a wall at her back. Smart girl.

Justin started circling with Bandanna Man and the stocky guy, hoping to buy time to let her get away, get inside, trying to keep an eye on Lara and another on his new dance partners, watching their hands, watching their eyes. Hoping nobody had a knife or, Jesus, a gun.

Tattoos realized Lara was slipping away and made a grab for her. The flock of birds burst from the ground, a feathered explosion of black wings and raucous cries.

Lara dropped out of sight behind the Jeep.

Shit.

#

THE LOVE SCENE, p.204

Iestyn’s blood drummed in his ears like a roaring wind, like the crashing sea. Lara should have left him when she had the chance. Instead, she was putting herself in his hands. Literally.

What the hell was she thinking?

“Take me,she’d said.

Heat surged in his veins. A cold sweat trickled down his spine.

For seven years, he’d drifted, a nobody answerable to no one, responsible for no one but himself. Because of Lara, he knew who he was. What he had been. Her choices had gotten them this far.

But they had left her world behind. With every mile, they traveled closer to his.

Where they went from here was up to him. She was his responsibility now. Her safety, her satisfaction, depended on him.

He looked into her misty gray eyes and his vision contracted suddenly as if he were sighting the stars through a sextant, plotting his course by her light. All he could see was Lara.

He was no angel. Maybe he would never be what she needed. But in one area, at least, he could give her what she wanted.

Sex was part of his world. He could take responsibility for sex without any problem at all.

#

What are some of your favorite action scenes from movies or from books?  How much detail do you want in fight scenes?  What about love scenes?

Virginia will be giving away a copy of FORGOTTEN SEA to one lucky commenter!

http://virginiakantra.com

http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaKantraBooks

IMMORTAL SEA, 2011 RITA Award finalist for Best Paranormal Romance

“Shifting Sea” in BURNING UP, 2011 RITA Award finalist for Best Novella

FORGOTTEN SEA, Berkley, June 2011

Liberty States Conference

The 2nd annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical conference was even better than the first.  First of all, there was no monsoon this year.  Secondly, the event was just plain fantastic!

Attendees raved about workshops covering topics from dialogue, voice, editing, pitching, marketing and promotion. With a line-up of terrific speakers including Jonathan Maberry, Virginia Kantra,  and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, that wasn’t a surprise. One of my favorites was the Building Your Brand workshop with Angela James of Carina Press.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough, and nearly two hours went by all too quickly.  Kathy Fawcett and I shot, stabbed, kicked and choked each other in our own Kick Butt Heroes workshop.

One of the most exciting and nerve-wracking parts of a conference is the pitching experience.  Despite a New York train snafu, appointments with agents and editors went smoothly, and more than one writer emerging with that I-just-got-a-request post-pitch glow.

Mary Janice Davidson’s keynote speech was hilarious. She reminded us all that book publishing isn’t as sexy as we’d like to believe.  It’s always wonderful to hear that a New York Times Best had to wait for The Call just like the rest of us.

The day was topped off, like the whipped cream on a sundae, with a book fair that was open to the public. Readers had loads of time to buy books and talk with their favorite authors.

And, did I mention, there was no monsoon this year?

I’d like to thank all the volunteers.  Without you, the event would not have been possible.  Mark your calendars for March 17, 2012, and plan to visit New Jersey (it’s not like Jersey Shore, we promise) when paranormal romance author Larissa Ione gives the keynote speech at the next Create Something Magical conference.