Reading Modern Heat

I should of course be writing, not doing lots of blog posts, but my two oddly titled WIPs are proving difficult. Can’t get them to flow right. Probably because I’m too busy trying not to think about my revisions and whether I’ve done them right!

Anyway, the best thing I’ve found to do for inspiration is to read more Modern Heat (or the horribly titled Sexy Sensation as they are down under). Now this is something that I should have done right at the beginning, when I first started trying to write a Mills and Boon. Other authors tell you this, the guidelines tell you this, but do you think I did it? Nup. My reasoning was that somehow my voice would end up sounding like whatever I was reading at the time. Which is stupid. Because when I read Ian McEwen, I don’t end up writing like he does (wish I did!), or Michael Ondaatje, or Heidi Rice or any one of a hundred other authors that I read.
Right, so after my first rejection, I thought, hmmm, best I actually read some of these things. First one I downloaded was Natalie Anderson’s Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire and I read it from a writer’s point of view and not just enjoying it as a story. Reading that was probably the best thing I ever did because I had one of those ‘aha moments’. I noticed that all the hero and heroine ever did was meet, talk, have a love scene, part. Meet, talk, have sex, part. Meet, talk a bit more, have sex, reveal deepest secrets, happy ever after. AND THAT’S IT!
Now, that’s overly simplistic of course and you may know this already but for me this was a revelation. There were no car chases, no complicated sub plots with extended family members, no hiding from stalkers, no shootouts. And definitely the hero and heroine did not stay apart for longer than half a chapter. This was my first realisation about internal conflict.

After that I decided I needed to buy them every month and so I did, religiously. Good thing too because when I met Jenny Hutton (MH editor) at the RWNZ conference last year, she asked me which Modern Heat authors I liked. If I hadn’t been reading them, I probably would have said something dumb like “Um…Essie Summers?”

Moral of the story? If you want to write for a line (or any publisher), read the books. All the time. I buy them every month. It’s good to see what M&B are publishing in terms of plot and conflict. You get a feel after a while for what might work in your own writing and what probably won’t.

As to which ones I like, well, I prefer the grittier ones. Like Natalie Anderson, Heidi Rice, Kelly Hunter. What about you guys?

9 thoughts on “Reading Modern Heat”

  1. That’s great advice, Jackie. I’ve been reading M&Bs since I was fourteen or so (yes, into the realms of fantasy there) but for most of that time as a reader not as a writer. Big mistake, as when you start to analyse these stories you can learn such a lot.

    🙂

  2. Yes, it certainly makes a difference. Like you, I did read M&Bs before that but not as a writer. Before the Instant Seduction contest last year, I didn’t even know Modern Heat was a separate category!

  3. Hi Jackie!

    I’m addicted. I spend way too much time and money carefully picking out which books I want from ALL of the lines each month. Naughty naughty me… wasn’t I suppose to pay the phone bill?

  4. I’m an ebook freak. I was naughty at the end of last year and bought a Sony ereader for myself. I will probably be paying for it forever!!

    I haven’t read too many Modern Heats but I love Natalie Anderson, Nicola Marsh and Ally Blake.

    But definitely reading from the lines you want to write for is the most important thing. Analysing them I find harder, I can’t stand writing in books. 🙂

  5. I used to worry about reading while in the middle of a WIP but like you I’ve found it great when you’re stuck.I love Natalie and Heidi too.

    It can be so annoying when for some reason the story just doesn’t flow or the dialogue flounders. One thing I’ve found fairly useful when things are grinding to a halt is just jump ahead to another scene, it shouldn’t work (what about flow etc?) but it does seem to. After all if you’re getting bored then the reader most certainly will!
    Then I go back and either cut the slow moving scene or re-write it from the other character’s POV instead – amazing how many times this seems to solve the problem.

    Did you download all the free ebooks offered by Harlequin for its anniversary? I’m looking forward to seeing what other series I wouldn’t normally read are like. Just need my head to get better 🙂

  6. Lorraine – I work much the same as you. If you’re feeling stumped move on, and you can come back later to get it flowing.

    Though I read both Modern & Modern Heat I’m a Romance girl at heart. My absolute favourite authors are Liz Fielding and Lucy Gordon. Talk about ‘pure emotion’ – they have it in bucket loads!

  7. Jo, how do you find the ebook reader? I’m reading mine on the laptop but am thinking an ebook reader might be better.

    Lorraine – yep, I’m a jumper too. It definitely does help to jump forward when something just isn’t working in the present scene.

    Romy – Romance huh? I haven’t read any of those. They sound good. No nookie but. 😉

  8. I too like Kelly Hunter, Heidi Rice and Ally Blake. I sat down to try and write my first M&B without actually having read one for 10 years. Doh.

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