I joined Mina V. Esguerra's Steamy Romance class (for free!), and we had our first face-to-face class last January 18 in the Buqo office in Cybergate Tower 3. Since I have never attended a creative writing class before (if you want to talk about politics and economics and how the two are related and affect each other, though, I'm your woman), I learned a lot from the class.
Some of the things said in class were a reiteration of the group emails we received prior to the face-to-face discussion. We went over the heat levels, ranging from 0 to 5, which was also very helpful in knowing how to classify our future novels/ebooks, in case we want to sell them and have to set an age bracket. So far I have written heat 0 (unpublished) novellas, and maybe a 1, but nothing as graphic as 2 to 5 yet. I don't think I'll ever write 5, though. Five, if you're not yet aware, is erotica. Interestingly, I also found out that romance/erotica writers don't consider the Fifty Shades trilogy to be erotic because the sex was between the two main characters, and there was no inclusion of a third party into their bed play. That was really surprising to know.
We also discussed the four story tropes, given the general letters of A, B, C, D. For our class' purposes, A people have to write about Love at First Sight. B - The One That Got Away. C - Friends to Lovers. D - Opposites Attract.
Since it was my first time writing anything with this much heat in it, I had a hard time writing the steamy scene. Was I too graphic? Not graphic enough for level 3? Am I getting the actions right? Is this even possible?! Can I just go back to level 1? Am I getting the sounds right? I had to fire up my imagination and push myself beyond the limits of my imagination. And this is so beyond my comfort zone that I am glad I use a pen name.
I already had a planned plot because I forgot that we were going to be assigned story tropes (I got B). Fortunately, the characters I had in mind can be switched from Love at First Sight to The One That Got Away. What I had a really hard time coming up with, was a reason for the two characters to get back together and overcome their reasons for breaking up in the first place. Let me tell you, that was hard, especially since I'm the type who never entertains exes, and I don't believe in getting back together with an ex, because, precisely you broke up for a reason!
Fortunately, I had a friends to whose whole love life I was privy to because we were all good friends in college, and theirs was a classic example of Friends to Lovers, which became The One That Got Away, but has an ongoing happy ending although they're doing a Long Distance Relationship thing. So I consulted with her again why they broke up and how they overcame that roadblock. Talking to her finally convinced me to let go of my prejudices against exes getting back together because there's a real live couple in front of me who made it work!
Before coming to class, Mina told us to think of questions to ask some 'guest' alpha males. My classmates and I had been talking about 'alpha' males all week, and sad to say we can't think of any living Filipino who fits the bill. When God showered the 'alpha' trait, did the Brits bring buckets with them?
But the three guys, Aeus, JB, and Martin, gamely answered our questions, some gently probing about feelings, and some getting into raucous territory straight to libidinous questions - mine included. But, as we kept telling ourselves, it was all part of "research." Seriously, not all men are open to discussing their feelings and exploits in front of a class-full of women (and a guy, sorry, I hope we have an alpha female for you next time?). Besides, we do need the insight of men so we can balance out our novels. Me, specifically, because I want my short story to be as realistic as it can get.
The three guys kept us laughing with their answers, interjections, and anecdotes. They revealed that horror movies was really a move that men employ to get the women clinging to their arms in fright. And JB slyly added, "then you don't bring a jacket so she'll really get cold and hold on to you!" Haha that one set us all off laughing our hearts out! Men and your sometimes-cute underhanded ploys.
I've had several male acquaintances in college, and they were quite liberal in their discussions of their hearts and sex life, but the one thing I never did know is what makes a guy friend turn into a suitor. One answer was unfailingly funny: she wore shorts. That answer made me re-strategize if ever I develop a crush on a male friend. Us girls and our underhanded often-successful ploys.
I'm looking forward to reading what my classmates came up with. Hopefully, we all finish in time by February 15.
The heat is on.