I was oh-so-honored recently to be one of the guest speakers at the Southern California Writers Conference, held over President's Day weekend in San Diego. I did my best to interest and inspire the crowd, and they seemed to like me.
In the Q&A portion of the program, my buddy Rick Ochocki asked about my writing style/voice, saying that within the many genres I've written, my voice seems different for each one. It's true--my humor books are light and conversational, my mysteries are more excited and driving, and Rick pointed out that my fantasy trilogy is sensual in style.
I thought I was writing in the dreamy style of the fairy tales of my youth, but sure.
My answer was that I read across genres, and I learn to recognize and incorporate the style of whatever genre I am writing.
But I started to look at what Rick called "sensual writing," and here's what I believe: when I write any kind of romantic/dreamy book or scene, I'm looking at tension. Many people are hooked into a story when there is tension of any kind, from the tension building in a chase scene to the tension building between two people as they fall in love. Or at least in lust.
The best tension in the world is that moment, that breath, before the next thing happens. The lovers are so close, they can feel each other's heartbeat--you know they will kiss. The hero raises the bomb's wire to cut--is it the right one?--you know it will be. The moment is a microsecond.
Imagine your favorite food. You raise the fork to your mouth. The aroma fills your olfactory sense. The fork full of lobster/chocolate/etc. touches your tongue lightly, barely brushing your tastebuds. You know how it will taste, but this small slice of time divides your life into before and after. Before you experienced deliciousness and after you indulged in it.
And it is only a microsecond, a breath, half a heartbeat. You can't hold the fork up without biting down eventually. You can't make that moment last.
That's what I try to write, from that breath to the next. I'm not interested in the mechanics of bodies, and I'm too clinical to enjoy flowery euphemisms. I want to know how each character feels in that moment before they indulge...in anything.
So, Rick, that's a more complete answer. Hope it helps.