Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Finding Inspiration for Literal Sex

Thrusting Problems...

In reply to…
The problem I’m having in writing sex scenes; is that inspirationally speaking, I find Sex more visual than mental.

“…I must admit that pretty well all porn makes me want to heave, so I don't get my inspiration from there. (I tend to just ask people if I can watch them fuck, instead. I kind of prefer the non-stagy noises to the movie ones and I don't get put off by the soundtrack.)

I have to disagree, about – sex - being more visual than mental. Besides the obvious – sex is - primarily physical. I find penetration to be a pretty overwhelming act mentally. I think that thinking metaphorically really helps here. (Although I'd probably piss on someone from a long height if they started writing sex in metaphor - hopefully we're passed that *grin*.)

From a female standpoint, this person is actually invading the integrity of your body... and using you for friction. (Damn...that sounds kind of nasty.)

OR this person is so intent on merging with you, that they are physically crawling inside you, possessing you, becoming one single entity... (That is more hippy-trippy than I can stand. Pass the LSD).

Okay... how about this, on a more proactive side: after a certain level of arousal, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, is going to feel as good as a big, pulsing, meaty cock filling you up and rocking your world.

From a male perspective...well there's a whole lot of engulfing going on, a drive towards the core of this wonderfully hot, wet thing...but I'll leave that part to a male.

In any case, I think one of the problems is that we tend to think of fucking - penetration - as the culmination and everything else as foreplay.

But Clinton was wrong, it's ALL sex.

Perhaps if you took the view that fucking was just another form of stimulation, you might get over your need to write reams and reams about it, (do forgive the pun).

Personally, I always think of orgasms as being the culmination - and however you get to them, there really isn't an order of priority. That way you can have a lot of fun getting your character's off in ways that don't generally classify as sex (by Mr. Clinton's standards)..."

A silliness for your delectation:
(C) 2005 Remittance Girl

"Um... I don't...I don't...I don't think I want..."

He slipped his hand down between her thighs, cupping her crotch, pulling her back against his hips. His cock, nestled between her ass cheeks, was warm and hard. And utterly riveting.

Her protests stopped cold.

He coaxed his fingers into the furrow of her cunt. "But I think you do."

She shuddered involuntarily.

He put his lips to her ear. "Am I not correct?" He slid his fingers between her plump outer lips in long, steady strokes. "Am I not correct?" His voice was harsher this time. Abruptly, he released her and stepped back.

Her mind went into overdrive. Part of her had an overwhelming urge to rip his head off and the other part wanted his fingers back where they were before.

He slid the soap over her and resumed his attentions. His soapy fingers moved over the small of her back, her butt cheeks and between the cleft of her ass.

Opening her mouth, she found no words to tell him to stop. She stared at the grubby tiles.

He pressed against her again; the soap making their skin to skin contact slippery. He moved his hips and his cock slid between her butt cheeks. He bucked against her once, twice and then he pushed her hard to the wall, sliding his fingers up inside her.

The tile felt cool against her breasts and the skin of her face.

He panted hard into her ear. "Am I not correct, Sophie?" Using the palm on her crotch to hold her hips still, he ground himself against her ass. He dragged his hand over her clit and fucked her with his fingers.

She trembled. It felt as if she were going to melt and be sucked down the drain along with her reluctance. “Yes." It was a whimper, almost lost in the hiss of the water and the echoes of the room.

"Good girl," he whispered. His breath came harder and his hip-thrusts and fingers grew more insistent.

Her muscles began to contract everywhere, clamping down around the fingers inside her and squeezing his cock between her buttocks. She arched her back and moaned. Orgasm waited just below the surface.

His body stiffened and then shuddered against her. Lowering his lips onto her shoulder, he held her still and bit her, moaning into the skin.

The hot gush of his cum shot up along her back.

Her orgasm lunged and overtook her. Intense blooms of pleasure burst from between her legs, reaching out to shake her body in waves that robbed her of balance.

Successive sprays shot heat up her spine as he came against her.

He began to move again, sending tiny aftershocks of pleasure rippling through both their bodies.

Abruptly, he backed away from her.

The water sprayed down onto her back -- icy cold. She screeched in shock.

Entire Post (C) 2005 Remittance Girl
(Posted with Permission)

Friday, April 08, 2005


Getting the Frikkin Story on PAPER!

Okay, you have your characters set up and, you have your plot outlined. It's time to put the words on paper.

All Actions MUST happen in Chronological order.
The only way to write down any event in your story is in Chronological order. Seriously.
- Like this:

1. Something happened.
2. The POV Character's immediate physical reaction. (jump, scream, flinch, duck, gasp)
3. What the POV Character sensed. (saw, heard, smelled, tasted, felt)
4. The POV Character's Emotional reaction / introspection. (happy, sad, pissed, horny)
5. How the POV Character responded. (dialogue, action)
6. What happened next.

In that specific order. Every single time. Every single sentence. You can skip steps - but you cannot change the order without muddying the visuals for the reader.

More on Action?
Go To: Writing SEX Action - Technique & Structure

When you are in tight POV, everything the character sees and experienced should be flavored with that character’s Attitude.

If Oscar the Grouch is looking at a bed of roses, what is going through his head is not going to resemble what would be going through Big Bird’s head. If you are in Oscar’s POV, the way you would write the description of those roses would reflect how he saw them.

Attitude Alone (AKA - Internal Narration):

Oscar could not believe that someone had the gall to drop his comfy garbage can in the middle of a disgustingly bright mound of flowers. At least they were roses. He could almost stand something that closely resembled a heaped snarl of barbed wire, if it weren’t for those eye-searing explosions of hideous pink. To make matters worse their stench was overwhelmingly sweet. He just knew that it was going to take a whole week to get the smell out of his can. He seriously considered heaving, just to have something more comforting to smell.

(Boring. NOTHING is happening.)

BUT – Oscar would not sit there and Contemplate the roses, he would curl his lip and say something snotty.

Attitude + ACTION:
Oscar the Grouch popped out of his trash can. Serrated green leaves waved among slender and barbed branches around the mouth of his home. He gasped in horror. “What is this disgusting mess?”

He leaned out and looked around in disbelief.
"Oh ugh, I'm surrounded. Somebody put my trash can in a revolting pile of... What are these? Roses?” He could almost stand something that closely resembled a heaped snarl of barbed wire, if it weren’t for those eye-searing explosions of hideous color. He curled his lip. “Pink, I hate pink.”

To make matters worse their stench was overwhelmingly sweet. “Oh, eww…the smell!" He slapped a fuzzy green hand over his fuzzy green nose. "It’s gonna take me a week to get that out’ta my can!” He felt his gorge rising. “I think I’m going to be sick. At least it’ll smell better.”

(Not quite so boring this time.)

Add some DESCRIPTION please?!
Go To: I want to SEE the Story-Damn it! ~ a RANT!
~ DESCRIPTION in your Fiction

Go To: What's the Difference between SHOWING & TELLING?"

Separate each character’s actions.
The actions and dialogue of one character DO NOT belong in the Same Paragraph as another character's actions and dialogue - EVER!
The actions and dialogue of one character Do Not Overlap the actions and dialogue of another character in the Same Paragraph or visuals become muddied. It may look choppy on the page, but the reader has absolutely no doubt as to who is doing what.

The Reader's perceptions are more important than whether or not your type looks tidy.

A character's Dialogue stays WITH their Actions
- in the Same Paragraph!

It’s a cold and lonely world. Your dialogue should always be in the same paragraph as its corresponding actions; it shouldn’t be abandoned. You make a new paragraph for the NEXT character’s actions and dialogue.

(Where did that "abandoned dialogue" idea come from anyway? Does anyone know?)

Dialogue Tags - SUCK.
When you have an action with a line of dialogue – you DO NOT NEED DIALOGUE TAGS - AT ALL!
You already know, through the action, who is speaking. Dialogue tags are only ever needed when you don’t have any other way of identifying the speaker. If you have no other way of knowing who is speaking than dialogue tags, then you have committed the heinous crime of:

- also known as “talking heads syndrome”.

A book with nothing but reams of dialogue marked only by dialogue tags means that there is no action going on, there is no Picture. NOTHING IS HAPPENING. The mental movie has stopped and only the sound-track is playing in a vacuum, like a Radio Show with no sound effects. I don’t know about you, but when I go to read a book, I want to SEE what I'm reading like a movie, not listen to a radio show.

Action and body-language tags on dialogue are not just there for decoration.
Action tags keep the mental Movie rolling and the MEANING of what is being said crystal clear. A small simple action can tell you right away what's going through the speaker's head.

She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “I love you too.”
She dropped her chin and pouted. “I love you too.”
She glared straight at him. “I love you too.”
“I love you too.” She turned away and wiped the tear from her cheek.

Dead give-away that dialogue is happening in a vacuum?
Look for dialogue tags, the word: SAID or any of its cousins: Spoke, Asked, Stated...etc.

Dialogue tags are a pet peeve of mine. I don’t use them. Ever.
Go To: Don't Need No Stinking "SAID" - a RANT!

Making Story HAPPEN

The fastest way to Start a story is...
– NOT at the Beginning.

Start your story within one page of Boy meets Girl (or Hero meets Trouble), with the story already in progress.

Don't bother with Back-story, also known as Info-Dumping. Use Dialogue to slip in clues to the characters' back-story and hints of what's going on in the world around them -- in the middle of all the action. This forces the reader to become an eavesdropper who MUST read on to find out: "What the heck is Really going on?"

The less you tell the readers, the more they'll want to read further to find out what's really happening. Make the reader WORK to discover why this vampire hunted this particular girl down, and why she isn’t running in screaming terror. Don’t give away the goodies until the reader is committed to your characters.

The saggy Middle...
- Is where the story’s REVERSAL goes.

Once you get to the middle, it's time for the Worst Case Scenario! The Middle is where Everything goes Terribly Wrong and the characters scramble to fix it, making everything WORSE.

Then comes the lowest point of the book, where they can’t possibly go any further. “We’re dead, we’re dead, we’re dead!” And then the Hero tries one last desperate thing…

Keep your Plot a SECRET until the bitter End!
- NEVER reveal ANYTHING until the Last Possible Moment!

The Easiest way to hide your plot -- and all your other shocking secrets, is by staying in ONE Point Of View (POV), rather than hopping from head to head.

When the main character - the POV character - is the ONLY character telling their thoughts to the reader, it's really easy to make the reader think one thing when in fact it's another!

(I don't care what other authors do, if you want to keep your plot a secret, you Don't put your readers in the heads of the characters plotting against your main POV character.)

The Final Battle!
- Shouldn’t be a total Win or a total Lose.

Winning should come with a cost, and Losing should come with an unexpected bonus. For some odd and unexplainable reason, a total triumph seems to be just as unsatisfying to the modern day reader as a total: “He dies, she dies, everybody dies…” Bittersweet seems to be the preferred flavor for an ending.

(I have no idea WHY the majority of my readers seem to prefer a balance of good and bad, but I do have the hate-mail to prove it.)

Where to End it?
- Where you began – back at square one.

Make the story a nice tidy loop. This tells the reader: “The next story is about to begin!”
  • Sam Spade always ends up back in his office, ready to begin his next job.
  • Alice comes back out of her rabbit hole – of course she’s being chased, but hey…!
  • King Arthur sailed off in a tiny ship on the lake where he gained Excalibur, and his career as King began -- but he wasn’t dead. He could have come back. (Okay, so he didn’t come back -- but He COULD Have!)
  • Even the classic Romances that end with a wedding party imply a new beginning.

What Don't I need in a Story?
- Only put in as much work as you Need To.

Think: SLACKER. The trick to knowing what to include in a story is whether or not you intend to actively USE it. If the character trait or object does not matter to the plot – skip it. If it doesn’t actively MOVE the Plot, (even a teeny bit,) you don’t need to use it -- or describe it.

The shorter the story the LESS room you have to work with, so the only details you need are what actually Changes the Plot. The same goes for character details. If the fact that your Hero's brother likes soccer a whole lot has no bearing on the plot, you don’t need to mention it.

That's the Quick and Dirty version of how to Write a Story. If you want more details, I want begging and pleading. And make it GOOD.

Morgan Hawke

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What is a META For?

From Phil Phantom's "Guide to Writing Good Trash"
I know, you hate to think of your writing as trash, but if done well, others will. If done poorly, your magnificent creation is just crap, shit, or garbage. Excellent trash can rise to the level of good shit, but you and your good shit will never be studied in English Lit. As for riches, sure, but it helps if you are wealthy when you start.

We're going to watch a short Army training film. The film is called, "What's a META For?" Pay close attention. What you learn is this film can save your writing from the crap heap.

Roll 'em!

What's a META For?
Corporal Jim Kelley poked his head in the commanding officer's door and said, "Were you looking for me, Sir?"

Without looking up from his cluttered desk, the captain said, "Get me the META, Kelley."

"Uh...did you say metal?"

"META, Kelley...M-E-T-A...META."

"Uh, yes Sir. Right away, Sir." Kelley eased out, shutting the door. He stood against the wall of the bunker tunnel complex and glanced both ways down the corridor, looking for a friendly, knowledgeable face. The tunnel was a faceless void - an empty colon in the bowels of a sleepy volcano. "META?"

He needed to find the NCOIC and made straight for the Bunker Bar. He wasn't sure he'd find anyone at ten in the morning, but he found Yolanda behind the bar polishing the nipple on a Hillary Clinton tittie mug. "Yolanda, you gotta help me. What's a META?"

"Nothing's the matter; what's a matter with you?"

"No, M-E-T-A, META. The Captain needs one right away, only I don't know what it is."

"Why didn't you ask?"

"Sonny said I have to stop looking and acting clueless. Are you sure you never heard of a META?"

"I'm sure. Sounds to me like one of those military thingies, like DEROS, FTA, QTTMB."


"Yeah - quit talking to my breasts."

"Oh, sorry... You're probably right, but what can it mean?"

"Beats me; Ask Sonny."

"Is he here?"

"Where else? In the corner behind the slot machines. He's briefing that new girl, Barbara. Look, take him aside and tell him to get a room, will ya."

Kelley smiled, gave her a Boy Scout salute, then made for the corner. He stalked in from the rear like a toothless predator with sore paws.

The NCOIC sat close with his bad arm resting on her good shoulder, trailing the chrome claw of his hook lightly up the nape of her neck to tease the ear, making her scrunch and giggle. Kelley also noticed Sonny's good hand sliding up a bare inner thigh, disappearing under the hem of a tight mini skirt. The diversion always worked; at least, in the early stages.

The shy nimrod heard Barbara say, "Sonny, you shouldn't touch me there. My husband wouldn't like this at all."

"That's understandable. Marines are built totally different."

Kelley cleared his throat.

The briefer and the briefee sat up. Sonny turned, saying, "What is it Kelley? I'm very busy. If this is another dumb question, I'm going to rip your lips off."

"Well, it's a question."

"Look, Jimbro, save your lips. Whatever it is, take it elsewhere."

"But you said I shouldn't be looking clueless all the time."

"You don't have to if you handle it right. Instead of going around saying, 'What's this, and what's that?' try this technique. Act like you know what it is; you just want more information. That way, you'll look curious, not clueless. You do that by saying, 'What is this or that for? What does this or that do? How does this or that work?'"

"Yeah, but for this, I really don't have a clue."

"It doesn't matter. Do like you did for head-space. You asked what head-space was for. The answer clued you to the fact that it relates to a fifty caliber machine gun and the tuning of that gun to fire properly. See what I mean?"

"Yeah. That's great. Sonny, what's a META for?"

"Bring your lips over here."

Barbara said, "Here, allow me." She turned in her seat to face Kelley, smiled and said, "This is my favorite, Jim: He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

Barbara laughed, slugged Sonny's shoulder, and said, "Isn't that a hoot? Don't you just love that one?"

Sonny rubbed his shoulder and said, "Yeah, a hoot, but now Jim looks as perplexed as a hacker who means to access\aakk/ch@ung, but gets T:\flw.quidaaakk/ch@ung by mistake."

Jim backed away from the table. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30. He smiled the way a basset hound does when he farts in mixed company, gave them his signature Boy Scout salute, then returned to the bar.

Yolanda held another tittie mug up to catch the faint light coming in through the north firing port. A storm gathered steam outside, making her inspection more difficult. The thunder was much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play. Hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease, but Kelley and Yolanda couldn't see that.

Yolanda set the mug down, saying, "So, what's a META?"

"Beats me, but that Barbara chick is one weird lady."

"Yeah, she has a vocabulary, like...whatever."

Karen made her entrance, wringing wet. She stood beside Jim and shook like a retriever. Her hair glistened from the rain like nose hair after a sneeze. Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center. She looked over and smiled.

Yolanda said, "So, how'd your date with Lt. Singer go?"

"He was pleasant enough, but if my life were a movie he'd be buried in the credits as something like 'Second Tall Man.' Besides that, he's married."

"That explains it, then. First Tall Man is single."

"You got that straight, Sister."

Turning to Jim, Yolanda said, "Lt. Singer and Karen had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. You should have been here when those two saw each other. It was like a scene from a 'B' movie: Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."

Jim shook his head. As they'd been talking, Richard entered the bar and went straight for the north firing port. There he stood, tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree stooping to peek through a six-foot aperture. As Jim approached, Richard said, "The hailstones look just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease."

"Hey, Richard. I was just wondering - what's a META for?"

Without looking over, White said, "The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't."

Jim peered past the big man's shoulder but saw no boat and certainly no bowling ball. He shrugged like a man with a chip on each shoulder, then left the big guy to ponder the weather.

On the way out of this bar caught in the Twilight Zone, Jim met Bob, Phil, Bernie, and Kerry on their way in. He followed them to a table, hoping these men hadn't been affected. When they sat, he pulled up a chair. They ordered Hillaries (Texas Tornados in the First Lady's mug). Jim ordered a Chelsea. He was on duty, he explained, after they looked to him as though he were a smiling basset hound with a tiny dick.

When the drinks came, the men toasted stormy weather.

Jim downed a swig, then said, "You know, I was wondering, what's a META for?"

Bob said, "She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again."

Jim looked around for her.

Bernie said, "Bush - that's one."

Phil offered, "Boonies - there's another."

Kerry said, "I like 'The World'. The World says it all, Bro....Hey, 'Bro', that's one, ain't it?"

Jim eased away from the table leaving half an 'A'-cup of TT in the tiny mug. He marched directly to the CO's office. On the way, he encountered an apparition straight out of a puppy's nightmare - A near-naked Tommy Bass on a pogo stick.

Tommy came around a bend in the tunnel, bounding from one side to the other while making forward progress, his long hair teased and flapping. He wore a genuine Arapaho loin cloth with Go Go boots. Peacock feathers stuck into the backs of each boot created a dance of color with every bounce. He boinged his way toward Jim then began marking time like a kangaroo drum major in a backed-up parade.

Tommy tucked the M-60 machinegun under his right arm and said, "[BOING] Wasup, Jim? [BOING]"

Jim was glad to finally encounter someone who was still his normal self. He said, "I think something is making everyone crazy."

"[BOING] No shit! [BOING]."

"What's with the pogo, Tommy?"

"[BOING] It's my new [BOING] static offense invention [BOING]. This'll make 'em shit [BOING] and miss, dontcha think? [BOING]"

"I suppose, if it don't wake up the volcano."

"The trick [BOING] is to fire when the stick [BOING] is in contact with the floor [BOING], otherwise, I spin [BOING] out of control from the recoil [BOING]."

"Yeah, I can see where that might be a problem. Say, Tommy, what's a META for?"

"Beats me [BOING], but if one [BOING] gets in the tunnels [BOING] his ass is grass [BOING] and I'm the lawn mower [BOING]. Later bro. [BOING] ... [BOING] ... [BOING]."

Jim watched Tommy bound down the tunnel, the back flap of his loin cloth waving goodbye and showing the punji scar he picked up in Nam after having sat on one. That was not a pretty sight.

Jim moved on to the captain's office. He cracked the door and poked his head in. When the CO acknowledged his presence, Jim timidly asked, "Sir, what's a META for?"

"A figure of speech in which one thing is spoken of as if it were another. Now, where's that damned Map Evaluation and Tactical Analysis report I asked for thirty minutes ago?"

"The META?"

"Yes, the META!"

"Right! I'm on it, Sir. Right away, Sir!" Jim eased out, shut the door, leaned against the wall, and said, "Shit fuzzy."

The End
From Phil Phantom’s: “Guide to Writing Good Trash"
(Click article title to read the whole thing.)

Morgan Hawke

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

If You Can't Take an Edit, Stay Out of the Publishing House

The Editor is Your Friend
If You Can't Take an Edit,
- Stay Out of the Publishing House
Stefani V. Kelsey
Editor-in-chief of eXtasy Books

Back in the day... order to see a book in print, you were forced to do it the old-fashioned way: submit to a major publishing house and use the rejection slips to dab your tears. Repeat the process until you either buried your dreams--and your manuscript--in the bottom of a trunk, or by God and by Golly...Hit the Big Time!

Now, the world is your publishing house.
If Doubleday is foolish enough not to recognize your genius, you can hit small press, or POD, or ebook, or even do it yourself, whether by paying someone to do it for you, or truly making it your own. With so many options, finding the right fit is worth taking the time.

A huge factor in the decision-making process is that of the most feared facet of the publishing world: The Editor.

One misapprehension that the editor is out to hack, twist, trash, or otherwise fold, spindle, and mutilate your work. The true job of an editor is to take what you have and make it the best it can be, not to rewrite it in their own image and likeness. Spelling, grammar and sentence structure are standard, as is consistency.

You may get a manuscript back marked with enough red to illustrate the St. Valentine's Massacre, and still find not all that much is changed, as far as the true heart of your work: the story.

An editor doesn't bake the cake, just decorates it.

Unfortunately, not all editors know their role.

Some want to rewrite a story in a way they like, regardless of author's voice. Others fail to understand the author's world building, and end up literally destroying the carefully wrought storyline. Still more take on the role with a minimum of training and experience, and end up putting in more mistakes than they take out.

Usually because of a bad experience such as this, the author goes into the publishing world mistrusting the editor, and the relationship is doomed from the start.

The trick is knowing the difference between a professional edit, and the evil alternative.

Editing can seem traumatic...
You just handed over your baby, and when you get that book back, you feel like you've been attacked. Sentences you labored over have been hash-marked. The quaint turn of phrase you spent a good amount of time getting just so has been designated "too passive", and there is a detailed note attached asking you all sorts of inane questions you thought were made perfectly clear in line 18 of page four.

What would bring an otherwise kind person to perform such brutality?

Oddly enough, they're doing it to help you.
If a publisher signs you, they think you have a good bit of writing that the public may enjoy. So their goal is to put out a book that people will want to spend money on.

Now, no matter how good you and your crit group are, things will be missed.
That's the editor's job.
What seems perfectly clear and right to you after fifty readings may not be so to a reader during their first. A certain turn of phrase may read as offensive, or it may just not fit the image the house wants to project.

And of course, two words to strike fear in any wordsmith's heart:
House Style.
Every publisher has their own style, terminology, and formatting methods. Which, in most cases, is nothing like yours.

But the end result is not intended to send you into a fit of weeping and bosom-rending, but merely to create a marketable product.

If it's not about the money, or you think your misspellings are creative, and should be left in for emphasis, or you truly fear the evil editor, don't go to a publisher.

Insane advice?
No, self-preservation.

You're better off going to a vanity press, or simply doing it yourself, because all it will result in is bad blood between you and the publisher.

If you sign their contract, you are in essence agreeing to do it their way. If you don't like their way, don't sign the contract.

And yes, an ebook publisher is a real publisher.

And a contract is a contract.

Going to an ebook publisher is not a "last resort."

It also does not mean you get the right to do or say whatever you like. An epublisher commands the same respect as any other.

If Doubleday signed you:
  • Would you argue with and/or insult the editor?
  • Would you ask the publisher after they spent hours editing and putting your book up for sale to dissolve your contract because you want to go to another publisher?
  • More important, would they?
Straight up answer is no, on all counts. You wouldn't do it, and they wouldn't take it. So keep that in mind when you make your decision.

© 2005 Stefani V. Kelsey,
Executive Managing Editor, eXtasy Books
Also writing as Eppie Finalist and CAPA Nominee Rian Monaire
Article Featured in Xodtica Magazine March 2005

Posted with Permission

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Erotica without Sex?

Is Erotic Tension EROTIC Enough?
-----Original Message-----
"Can a story still, be considered erotic without lots of sex? Can the sexual tension throughout the story make it erotic?"
- Eve

YES! A story can be VERY erotic without actually having sex.
The point of eroticism is to excite the Reader, and I'm sorry to say even graphic sex is not always exciting.

If you label a story Erotic
-- Readers are going to Expect Sex.

My publishers want stories with graphic sex, but they also expect a compelling story. In fact, many of them will take a good story with lousy or very little sex over a wall-to-wall sex extravaganza. However, they Do expect at least some sexual content because that's what their READERS are shopping for.

If you don't want people to expect sex in your story, don't use the word Erotic to describe it. Many authors that don't write detailed love scenes, but do have a lot of sexual tension use the word Sensual to describe their work.

Making it EROTIC

The trick to Eroticism is ANTICIPATION.
-- The Catch is DELIVERY.
If you build expectation, (whether you're writing erotica, romance, horror, or suspense,) you had better deliver too. If you don't - you will Pay Dearly!

Think: Hate Mail. This of course comes after your book has been thrown across the room by a frustrated reader, and already hit the wall.

Lack of Delivery is like being on a roller coaster that has this HUGE climb and then drops about three feet - and stops. The riders look at each other and say: "What happened? I thought I was in for this big swooping, falling Whoosh of a ride? Where’s the whoosh?"

Seriously, if you are going to have a huge climb, you better have a huge WHOOSH to match it, to diffuse all that lovely tension.

Erotic build-up must have a corresponding action sequence to diffuse the tension generated by anticipation.

This is true in any genre that uses anticipation, whether it's erotica, romance, horror or suspense. No matter what you write, the anticipation must lead to a scene explosive enough to match – and diffuse - the build-up.

Untapped Anticipation
= Monumental FRUSTRATION.

Frustration is BAD. Anticipation needs RELEASE and that means an action scene strong enough to invoke a visceral and / or emotional response in the reader Equal to the amount of tension built up.

Action doesn't always mean SEX!
There ARE other ways to deliver Whoosh!

The problem with releasing sexual tension (and / or balancing out the sex scenes) is that Sex is an ACTION, so only another high-tension Physical Action will do.

Each releasing Action must possess the SAME level of Sensory and Emotional detail to keep the story level.
But it doesn't have to be the Same Kind of Action!
  • Dramatic Dialogue (funny, angry, terribly poignant...)
  • Fight Scenes (swords, guns, knives, fists...)
  • Chases (cars, horses, on foot through the forest...)
  • Pratfalls (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplain anyone?)
  • Graphic Violence (blood, gore, etc...)
Mary Janice Davidson uses seriously snappy dialogue exchanges and lots silly situational comedy. Angela Knight delivers perfectly balanced Whoosh by using a blend of rip-roaring Adventure Action, in addition to snappy dialogue and roasty-toasty sex! (And a twisty plot too!)

The key is to a sufficient Release in Tension is...
In your story, what Emotion is also being invoked with your rising Tension? Fear, Love, Hate, Anger...? Whatever emotion that tension invokes MUST be Present and Countered along with the Action to inact a sufficient release.

For example, if your heroine is physically attracted (sexual tension) to someone she Doesn't like, (anger) then an angry kiss that turns tender would diffuse that tension -- as would an angry sex scene that becomes tender.

"Can a story still, be considered erotic without lots of sex? Can the sexual tension throughout the story make it erotic?"
Yes! You can have an amazingly erotic story that has no sex in it.

Anne Rice is a master at sex-less erotica. She uses graphic violence to diffuse her sexual tension. Most horror stories are erotic in nature and they ALL use graphic violence to diffuse their sexual tension.

BUT ~ Anne Rice is NOT labelled as Erotica! Neither is Laurell K Hamilton! And LKH has LOTS of sex - as well as violence - in her later books.

The problem is not the STORY.
It's the Publishers and the Readers.

If you label a story EROTIC, they EXPECT SEX.
If you don't plan to have a lot of sex in your story, you can get around this by NOT calling it EROTICA. But don't worry, all that lovely Erotic tension will get noticed just the same! (Reviewers are funny that way.)

Erotica & PROFANITY?
Vocabulary Issues
-----Original Message-----
Is it necessary to use profanity when writing love scenes in erotic romance? Like the measure of how graphic the sex should be, is profanity in love scenes a publisher requirement? I realize each publisher has different requirements, but I'm, talking about a general accepted, EXPECTED format for the genre in question.

How much Profanity should go in your Erotica?

However much it takes to tell the story from THAT character’s POV.
This is where we get into the controversial subject of VOICE. My opinion (and that of ALL of my editors’,) is that text should always reflect the current POV character’s Voice, PERIOD. Anything else is AUTHOR INTRUSION.

The publishers expect the level of profanity used in dialogue and to describe the actions of a sex scene to be in direct correlation to the POV characters involved.

A nice girl is not going to use profanity in her dialogue or in her descriptive thoughts. It would not be unusual for her to refer to a guy’s dick as a thing or thingie, or a penis.

However, a Marine refers to his penis as a dick - never a penis. Penis is considered a girly-word. Someone’ else’s penis is a ‘prick’ and he calls his penis a 'cock' when he’s actively engaged is using it. And a Marine fucks, he does not make love. Only wimps, pansies and limp-wristed mommas’ boys ‘make love’.

If the Nice Girl is the POV character, the descriptive text will not be all that profane as the entire story is being told from her view – however, the Marine’s dialogue will still have profanity peppered throughout it. Profanity is a guy thing – especially if they are Military or work outdoors.

I have NO Respect for an erotica writer that wimps out and uses – HUMP, Penis and Vagina in their fiction. We’re adults writing for ADULTS; let's have some Realistically Adult Language!

If you have problems writing profanity:
DON’T use a POV character that would use profanity.

It’s that simple.

Morgan Hawke

Being Clear as MUD - Showing & Telling

From Phil Phantom’s: Guide to Writing Good Trash"
I know, you hate to think of your writing as trash, but if done well, others will. If done poorly, your magnificent creation is just crap, shit, or garbage. Excellent trash can rise to the level of good shit, but you and your good shit will never be studied in English Lit. As for riches, sure, but it helps if you are wealthy when you start.

Being Clear as MUD
The greatest fault I find in the writing of most writers is the plethora of ambiguities in sentence after sentence. Most can be figured out, but why make the reader work? If reading becomes too much work, or the reader keeps getting lost, confused, and disoriented, your creation will join crap and be thrown, not tossed.

Simple-Pronouns (Should be drowned at birth.)
Simple pronouns are the most common culprit: he, she, it, we, us, they, them.
- Give THEM a name.
- Give IT a name.

Here is a typical example where the author has four men in the scene and keeps using the pronoun, he. The men have discussed several objects: dicks, hands, twenty-dollar bills, beer. The author tosses this line out:

He took it out and slapped it on the table.
- He who? It what? Slapped what? Why?

This is what he should have written:
- Bill hauled his dick out and slapped that fat puppy on the table.

Now, we see the picture, a who-has-the-biggest-dick challenge. We also know Bill has to haul his out and IT is a fat puppy.

Yes, that took more words to write but added so much more color and clarity. You must see ambiguities as opportunities to add color and clarity. Seek out the ITs and the THATs, the THINGs. Change them where needed.

He-Saids & She-Saids
When you have two or more same sex characters in a scene, be very careful with the he's and she's. Switch to names. At least refer to one by name.

In dialog, you can clear away some mud by using the name of the person being spoken to.

- "Look, Fred, I am not interested."

With just two people involved, you may now go several lines without any he-said she-saids.

NEVER drop a he-said she-said in the middle of a statement.
- Example: "Look," She said, "I am not interested."

Dropping a he-said she-said at the tail end is almost as bad.
- Example: "Look, I am not interested." She said.

If the speaker needs to be identified, clue the reader up front. Best of all, as much as possible, rid your writing of he-said she-saids. Someone may think you're an English teacher or head a journalism department - proof reader or editor.

Good trash writers don't need he-said she-saids, nor do their readers.

SHOW ME; Don't Tell Me
Now, we are going to cover the principle of showing without telling, especially when writing dialog. Characters make a story, but characters that speak and interact make a story come alive.

Our readers don't want to read, they want to eavesdrop while jerking off. Place them where they can hear and peek, but don't sit them down and tell them.

History is all about characters, and history books tell us who did what to whom, when, where, and why. The question is, how many people curl up with a good history book? That was a rhetorical question. I'll tell you how many. Not many. The best sellers are pulp fiction.

A good novel has characters, but the characters show who did what to whom, when, and where. It's up to you, the reader, to figure out why. A good novel is fun to read because you feel transported into the action. A writer who can transport you into an orgy and make that trip so real you end up wet, writes good shit.

The principle is to SHOW, Don't TELL.
Realistic dialog between characters is a great way to show the reader what's going on and can move a scene along much faster than a narrative description.

Let me give an example of the TELL Method without dialog:

Abigail Binderbutt sat alone in the cavernous anteroom of her sprawling mansion, looking around at old paintings, old books, antique furnishings, breathing stale air. She was bored. She reached to her side table and rang a brass bell.

Moments later, Reginald, the English Butler, arrived. Reginald never hurried. He walked in measured steps so as not to slip on the highly polished marble floors and thereby appear undignified. His class and culture he cultivated himself; therefore, he guarded it carefully. Abigail's came with her birth certificate and she took class for granted as she did everything else she owned.

Reginald made his presence known, then waited.

Abigail told him to bring the car around. She could tell by his expression that he found the request odd. He knew she had nowhere to go. He kept her schedule. She hated having her orders questioned, even by expression, and sternly added that she was bored and wanted to go for a drive in the country and that he'd be going along.

Reginald bowed and left the room with measured steps exactly as he had entered. This flustered Abigail more than his questioning expression had. When he stopped to ask if she'd need a driver, or would she be driving, or would he be driving her, she exploded. She told him she'd be driving him if he drove the way he walked, like a man with a croquet mallet up his ass.

He simply acknowledged her and went for the car.

Okay, that wasn't bad. You've read scenes that open that way a hundred times before. You get the picture, because the writer described the picture to you. You're getting my picture, a sketch, actually. You wouldn't get my picture if I spent all day describing minute details.

Lets try this another way.

Here's the SHOW Method using dialog:

Abigail Binderbutt surveyed the ornate room for the last time, reached for the brass bell and tinkled hard, shouting, "Reginald! Come in here!"

The polished butler carefully negotiated the polished marble floor and stood at the proper distance before saying, "You tinkled, Madam?"

"Yes, I tinkled. Do all Englishmen move so slowly?" Dropping the bell on a seventeenth century inlaid table, she said, "Fetch the Bentley. We're going for a drive."

"Madam, if there is something you require, perhaps..."

"I require the damn car! I'm bored out of my skull. If I don't get out of this antebellum mausoleum in the next two minutes, I'll scream."

"As you wish, Madam." He gave an exiting bow and began the return trip. Pausing at the arched entryway, he turned and said, "Will we need a driver, or will you be driving, or shall I drive you?"

"If you drive the way you walk, like you have a croquet mallet up your ass, I'll drive you. Mush, Reggie!"

"Mushing, Madam.

What picture do you have of these characters, now?

These two people seem more real because you are looking at your picture, and your own mental picture will always be a much fuller one than your impression of my mental picture sketch.

If you picked up a novel that began this way, would you be inclined to keep reading?

Which raised the most questions that you'd like answers to, and do you want to be told the answers or would you rather figure them out for yourself?

The overwhelming majority of readers who read for pleasure want to be shown not told. The action must start right away and move quickly. They want the story shown to them in the active voice with realistic dialog. If you're writing for an audience of pleasure readers, you must develop this skill.

If a scene needs describing, let your characters describe it. Let the scene unfold gradually. Clue the reader, don't tell 'em.

Readers also love SURPRISES!
By not telling all up front you can lead with clues then hit them with a big surprise. They'll be so excited, they can't wait for another surprise. They'll keep reading.

When a read becomes predictable, readers quit reading.

Story tellers are predictable, but story showers are a surprise a minute. Be a story shower. I'm not wearing underwear - SURPRISE!

From Phil Phantom’s: “Guide to Writing Good Trash"
(Click article title to read the whole thing.)

Morgan Hawke