Monday, March 03, 2014

A Note on Internal Monologues

Art by Kaori Yuki

A Note on
Internal Monologues

“I was just wondering what you think about interior monologues, long passages of reflection?” -- Curious Kitty

Whether you are considering adding a lengthy monologue to a story, or intend the monologue to be the story itself; where the focus of the entire story is on one character’s thoughts and feelings with very little action, from my observations and experimentation, the readers either love them or hate them. There's no in-between.

However, it is notable that the internal monologue stories that are sought out most frequently usually focus on a profound emotion of some kind: grief, loneliness, heartache, loss... Usually by those seeking to deal with such an emotion as a kind of therapy, or by those that have never felt such emotions. (Strong emotional stories are extremely popular in the Young Adult genre.)

In both cases, not only does the reader seek to submerge themselves in these profound emotions, they are also looking for a solution, a way back out from under these feelings.

In short...
Don’t write about Emotional Trauma 
without a Solution already in mind. 

Don't leave your readers hanging. You don’t want the hate mail that will come. Really.

I'm an escapist by nature, so I fall into the other category -- those that can only handle internal monologues in extremely tiny doses. I've actually had to deal with these sorts of emotions; death, grief, heartache, loss... on a far too personal basis, so dwelling on them (reading long emotional passages,) isn't something I'm comfortable with. I prefer my emotional deep thoughts mixed in with the character doing something; an action scene flavored by internal narration, rather than a monologue.

In Conclusion…
When deciding whether or not your monologue is appropriate for what you are writing, consider your target reading audience.

If you’re writing a story steeped in emotional upswings such as a romance, a monologue or two will probably fit right in.

However, if you’re writing something with lots of action such as an adventure, you just might want to consider sprinkling bits of light action among your passages of deep thought to keep it from dragging down the pace you’ve already set for your story.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

How Much Smut for Your story?

Note: This article was specifically written for smut scenes, but truthfully, it can be be for any type of scene: horror scenes, angst scenes, kissing scenes, fight scenes... Just replace the word Smut with the scene of your choice. 

How Much Smut 
Should go into Your story?

Before you can even approach this question, first you'll need to decide:

WHO is your target audience?
  • Yourself only.
  • A specific niche of readers.
  • As broad a reading audience as possible.
  • Other

What Age bracket?
  • Under 18
  • Over 18

What Gender?
  • Male
  • Female
  • Both

What kind of STORY do they prefer?
  • Angst
  • Contemporary
  • Romantic Comedy
  • BDSM
  • Horror
  • Psychological Thrillers
  • Mystery
  • Comedy of Errors
  • Supernatural
  • Sci-Fi
  • Steampunk
  • Fantasy
  • Yaoi (M/M romantic fantasies)
  • Yuri (F/F romantic fantasies)

The wonderful thing about smut is that it can be used in any genre.

Once you know WHO your target audience is, how smutty you should make your story depends on these major factors:

1) Your Target Audience and THEIR Expectations. 
What level of graphic smut does your target audience EXPECT in their stories?

Designing your story toward what your target audience likes and wants is the easiest and most effective way of guaranteeing that they'll adore your work.

As a professional erotica author, my target audience are the readers of my novels. They expect extremely detailed xXx work from me.

2) Your Skill Level in Writing. 
Can you write Good smut?

What are you Good at?
  • creating characters
  • world-building
  • plot twists
  • dialogue
  • smut scenes
  • humorous scenes
  • emotional scenes 
  • action scenes
What are you Bad at?

Realize your strengths, but more importantly -- your weaknesses. Your weak areas are where you're going to need to be the most Creative to ensure that those weaknesses don't drag the rest of the story down.

3) The Level of smut You are Comfortable writing. 
How smutty are you willing to go?

  • Sweet Vanilla
  • Deliciously Kinky
  • Angsty Fetish
  • Hardcore BDSM
  • M/M
  • F/F
  • Three-somes
  • More-somes

I'm comfortable with any level, from sweet romance to xXx hardcore smut, but that's just me.

If you are not comfortable writing smut Don't Do It because that discomfort will show in your writing.

4) The Story. 
Would smut Add to the story, or Ruin it?

Smut is all well and fine, but if your story doesn't actually need a full-on smut scene to get its point across, then a simple kissing scene is smutty enough.

Make the Smut COUNT!

Just like every other element in your work, Smut needs a purpose, a reason to be in the story.

Show something:

The type of smut a character prefers, and how they choose and gain their partners, can easily be used to reveal a character's Base Personality: tender, sweet, attention to detail, aggressive, humorous, serious…

Prove something:

Smut scenes are an excellent tool for visible demonstrations of a couple's progression from mere passionate attraction to protective and supportive love. They can also demonstrate the downward spiral of a destructive relationship, such as one that starts with attraction and ends with irrational obsession.

Make something Happen:

The best way to make smut work in a story is by having the smut trigger a shift in the plot. The traditional use for smut in Romance fiction is to make or break a relationship, but that’s not all it can do.

Smut can cause Transformations.
  • Vampirism and Lycanthropy as STD (Sexually transmitted disease.)
  • Demonic or Spiritual possession as STD

Smut can trigger or grant Psychic or Magical ability.

  • Initiation rituals
  • The classic hentai game Bible Black uses this.

Smut can be a Distraction that allows someone else to accomplish something nefarious.
  • The modus operandi of the classic Femme Fatale.

Smut can show a radical change in a character's Personality.
  • The classic Gothic novel, Dr Jeckell and Mr Hyde does this.

----- Original Message -----
I like that you pointed out the weak points (mine is definitely the level of written smut.) Many tips only talk about what to do, not what there is to realize before you begin. :D

Well, if you know where you want to end up, you're more likely to actually get there. That means having the car pointed in the right direction from the very beginning. (If you're going to California and Route 84 won't take you there, don't get on Route 84.)

I'm firmly of the opinion that any weakness can be worked around. You just have to be clever about it.

However, you can't work around a limitation that you:
  1. Won't acknowledge exists.
  2. Don't plan for.

There is a work-around for a weakness in writing smut!

  1. First, read some good smut and Collect It. Seriously, collect GOOD smut novels/stories and bookmark the appropriate pages. 
  2. Break out your highlighting pens and highlight the Action and Description parts of those scenes. NOT the dialog because you won't be needing that. 
  3. Write all those highlighted pieces into a document - only DON'T COPY the exact words! Paraphrase them by swapping out that writer's words with your own. Don't forget to elaborate on what you have by adding plenty of adjectives. (A thesaurus is very handy for this.)
  4. Insert YOUR scenery, YOUR descriptions, and YOUR dialog.
  5. Rewrite and polish to suit your work. By the time you're done, the scene will be twice as long and entirely Yours. 

Before you get your panties in a twist...!

It's only plagiarism if you use the exact same phrases 
 -- and you Publish it. 

This is a REAL writing exercise originally practiced by Romance authors, Fantasy authors, and Horror authors. It's one the Big Secrets they don't like to share (or admit to,) because it works

What this exercise does is teach you to use a successful MODEL to build your own work on. Eventually, with practice, you'll be able to create without a model. 

Before the age of the Internet, THIS is how all forms of fiction writing was originally taught; by Copying good examples and reworking them to suit your own style. (Hell, I was taught this in my fifth grade English class!)

In fact, it's how EVERYTHING was originally taught from the alphabet to to fine art. 

Originality isn't merely over-rated, it Doesn't Exist
NOTHING is purely Original. 

Every single thing; inventions, alphabets, stories, art, songs, music... was copied and improved on, from something that already existed.

Everything is a Remix Part 3:
Elements of Creativity

Warning: FALSE ENDING!!! Check the time left before you leave!

Art is STILL taught the same way -- by Copying.

When you draw from life, you're Copying what's before you. However, the way you draw and what tools you use changes the results into something uniquely yours. Even in a life-drawing class of 30 students, all using the same type of paper and the same type of charcoals, every student in that class will always have uniquely different results -- despite the fact that they're all drawing the same model. This is because no two artists SEE or Create the same way.

In Conclusion...
When used cleverly, smut can be an amazing tool to enhance a story. However, when used badly, or worse; as an afterthought, ("Oh hey, let's add some smut scenes!") smut can utterly ruin an otherwise entertaining story.

The absolute worst thing a creator can do is have smut scenes tacked-on at the end of an otherwise PG-rated story. This rather ugly trick is used specifically to attract readers who prefer adult content. Doing this is the lowest form of cheating because it's False Advertising, also known as pandering.

Don't cheat your readers! If you're going to write a story with smut in it, design it to be smutty from the very beginning by making those scenes necessary to the story.

Morgan Hawke