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The Slow Burn

Filed in Writing Life by on May 29, 2014 0 Comments • views: 2323

I’m taking a lot of risks with my Cora’s Choice series. Chief among them is my decision to write a story that starts out quietly but has the heat continually cranked up on it. In romance serials, it’s extremely dangerous to have no sex in the first installment. The potential relationship between the main characters is what keeps readers reading, and sex is often part of that. My ability to write sex scenes tends to be mentioned among my top skills, too, so by not having actual sex in the first installment, I’m essentially leaving out one of the things that sets me apart as a writer completely out of the story!

How stupid am I to do that, right?

But Cora’s Choice is a different kind of series, one with a slow burn that keeps getting increased, step after step. It’s a gradual descent into a kind of madness, and the tension and stakes rise with each installment—as does the sex. In fact, though reviewers began to swoon in book two, the hot stuff doesn’t even show up until book 4 of 6. How’s that for delayed gratification?

The story demands this, even as the story demands that Dorian be so desperately remote that the reader is actually frightened for the future of the relationship. The payoff is better if the story is allowed to work as it ought to work.

It also guarantees that readers who liked one book won’t be disappointed by the next (as long as they don’t get hung up on some single detail!). Whatever they liked in the previous book, it will be in the next, only…more. But it might be harder to get readers in the series in the first place.

In the same way, Cora’s own changes are gradual. Throughout all of Cora’s Choice, she sees herself primarily as reacting to her circumstances, rather than shaping them. That’s also a huge no-no—you’re main character “should” always be the driving force of the action through her own decisions. Cora’s decisions are triggers, absolutely, and she makes a critical choice in the end, but she sees herself as trapped–until the very end.

And that’s her epiphany.

And it also sets up the next arc, which is the story of her struggle to find a role for herself as an agent of change rather than an accessory in a world in which she is completely outgunned.

About the Author ()

V. M. Black is the creator of Aethereal Bonds, the sensual urban fantasy world that takes vampires, weres, and faes to a place they've never been.

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