Epiphany! There! I said it!

With a cup of hot, beautiful coffee in my hand to fuel my creative juices, I’m sitting at my computer staring at a blank page that I’ve been staring at for the last twenty minutes, and I think I have an epif…epef…efafe? Oh, well, never mind. An understanding of something called fear. You want to know what my epip…oh, forget it.

If you want to know the meaning of fear, you ain’t felt fear the way you’ll feel fear when you realize that the sweat under the armpits, racing pulse, dry mouth, and the urge to get up and go to the bathroom is the result of a blank screen, a blank mind, and—must I go on?

Not only that, any characters you might have created at this point are just sitting there staring at you, waiting for you to make them do something. For some reason you suddenly feel the need to switch over from your word document to spend about five or ten minutes playing that dependable old game, Solitaire. Just to relax, you tell yourself. Just to work the kinks out. Just to—oops, that dust on the ceiling suddenly becomes an unbearable offense that you have to get rid of—and I mean right now!

In other words—this is where facing anything else becomes preferable to facing the words on the page, because—did I say words on the page? Hell, there are no words on the page! By the way if you don’t like white, find your page background button and make it black. You think I’m kidding? I’ve done it!  The bad part is, the words become white! And unless you see a bunch of squiggly little white lines on there, it’s still blank!

Okay, fingers on keys, eyes on blank page, mind working, working, working, and you finally have it! The first line! You type it. Your fingers are going lickity split across the keys, your adrenalin is flowing, and when you are through you look down at it wide eyed and excited.

Ewww. It has all the appeal of picking your nose in public. Delete button, quick!

The bottom line is, writers, whether manlove, erotic romance, or any other kind live in abject terror of the blank page. But there’s an answer to all this, and it’s research! You can research anything. There’s a saying I’ve heard all my life. “Write what you know!” People, please! If I only wrote about what I know, my writing career would have ended a long time ago. What the hell is research for? A big percentage of my time is spent in research. I look up everything from nursery rhymes, to deviant relationships, to how the friggin’ hell two men can make love together.

And then there are characters, assuming you’ve created any thus far. This opens up a whole new reason for research. You have to create the handsome, the ugly, and the evil. The evil we’ll talk about later, but the, ugh, character who is fat and stinks of sweat even on cool days is also necessary, or the character who is rude, self-centered, and conceited. He smells as well, but only of his own conceit. So what if some of your characters are unlovely? Your job is to find out all you can about them, and then put them in your story! When you do you’ll be surprised at the ideas that will suddenly spring into your head. When those pages begin to fill up, suddenly the dust on the ceiling can wait.

But let’s get back to the evil characters that my books will center around in my Beautiful Villains collection. I don’t think I have to tell you that my men are so hot that their testosterone levels give them a push toward aggressiveness, and that aggressiveness can go in any direction, and do the most ungodly things. This is the thing that has given us some of the world’s best evil characters, both men and women.

Don’t castrate your writing by filling your book with one-dimensional characters that have absolutely no appeal. Sure, you can let them lay flat on the page like a cardboard cutout, or you can make them rich in detail. In other words, give them dimension, making them move around in your book like real people. If you’re not used to doing this, let me explain. You’ve heard of blow-up dolls. Maybe some of the guys out there can relate to this. She lays flat, emotionless, made of rubber, and very unappealing. But suddenly when you begin to blow your life-giving breath into her body she begins to fill out, and becomes rounded, and even begins to take on the shape of a real person. Wow-ee-wow-wow-wow! Suddenly she looks almost human, and what’s that you feel down in your nether regions? Desire? Don’t you see it? This doll, this thing that you have created with your own breath has made you feel something. All right, so this example is stretching it a bit, but this is my own zany way of trying make you understand what I mean.

Give your characters dimension—third dimension! Another way of describing it is to urge you to ‘flesh them out.’ Sometimes I can visualize my characters so well that they’re not only fleshed out, I feel like they can literally get up off that page, and act independently. This makes it easy for me to get in their heads and think like they do, giving me all kinds of ideas of where to go from here. Make your characters stand out, think, speak, and have feelings, because as human beings they are worth writing about.

And don’t forget the quirks. For those, many of you have only to look no further than your own back yard, because Aunt Connie, the alcoholic lesbian is waiting. She may sound like a nut, but she could be your ticket to creating a wonderful character that takes on color that your readers will remember from one book to the next, and fear will be a thing of the past.

Suddenly your characters, both hero and heroine will create a world for you that is both sane and crazy. They’ll keep your creative juices flowing both day and night. And those nuts? Love them, laugh with them as they begin to come out of the woodwork challenging you. Thank goodness the world is full of nuts. Sorry, didn’t mean to say that. The world is full of wonderful nuts. Embrace them. These are people that will make your book shine because you choose them from all walks of life, demanding them to be who they are—excuse me.

Who we are!

Kelly Conrad