How many more times must I state that when it comes to love scenes, it’s always better to suggest than describe!!!

adriana-lima

Ok, so does this stunningly beautiful young woman meet with your approval? She does? Good, now that I have your complete and undivided attention, let’s get on with what I want to talk about today.

I know I tend to bang on about what’s acceptable in literature and whats not when it comes to sex scenes. But let’s face it, the vast majority of writers don’t think before they write! When it comes to a lot of the books on offer under the heading of romance, what you get these days is pure porn. If only the authors concerned had taken the time and trouble to think things through first. Instead of being in such a blinding hurry to get themselves noticed for all the wrong reasons. There really is no need to resort to spelling out every detail in such an explicit manner as some writers tend to do, when describing what’s going on…

Suggestion is always the key to writing any and all scenes of a sexual nature, never full on description.

In the first draft of any such scene, I start by spelling it out, leaving absolutely nothing whatsoever to the imagination, merely to get the scene firmly fixed in my mind. Then by taking the sentences one at a time as I go back over what I initially wrote, by carefully choosing my words. I then rewrite each one until they still say what I originally intended. I do this purely by changing the wording so as not to give offence. That way I leave it entirely up to the often over fertile imagination of the reader to fill in the blanks for themselves.

In other words, unless you have been living in a cave, cut off from the rest of humanity for your entire life, you will know exactly what is happening in the particular scene without my having to spell it out for you.

The art of suggestion is not a difficult technique to master, providing you are prepared to think about how you want the scene to finally end up looking on the page. In other words, take your time to ensure that the reader will totally ‘get’ what you are saying without being shocked or disgusted by what they have just read.

Not too many years ago, the way I currently write love scenes would definitely have enraged some narrow-minded individuals, while the romance lovers back then would simply enjoy them for what they are, as they still do today…

😀

 

Advertisements

How far do you go???

c1ef78abbffe8a984f590046421cdc55

When it comes to writing sex scenes involving your characters, how far do you dare to go? Bearing in mind that a written work containing anything that might be considered vaguely pornographic, is seriously frowned upon by all reputable publishers, especially those domiciled in the US? Even that book cover you want may not be acceptable! Read on to find out how I deal with this dilemma.

~~~

In one of my novellas – Cataclysm, I alluded to the way the hero Gilbert Briggs and the beautiful transexual he fell in love with, Arianna, made love by simply saying just that sans any detail. It doesn’t take much imagination on the part of the more intelligent among you to realise how they went about it. But precisely because of the transexual element, no lurid details were employed. I agonised over it for several weeks, and I freely admit that I was seriously tempted to spice it up at the time of writing.

The Guardian demanded that I go a stage further. In this particular instance I dealt with the love affair between my principal characters, Lynne Crawford and Adler Stevens. The other characters, some of whom have already been involved in an orgy in the story, are a lesbian Bayla and a bi-sexual Karin, plus two of the five other males – Anatole, Moshe, Philippe, Brett and Cliff, all of them perfectly normal individuals but for one thing – their sexual proclivities.

Thinking about it, who or what is considered normal these days, especially when it comes to the often thorny subject of sex? It’s weird how some people become totally prudish when confronted with the subject in a novel or novella, yet see nothing wrong in engaging in what after all is a perfectly natural act between two consenting people, no matter their gender preference or indeed their preferred way of making love. A clear case of double standards if ever I saw one…

Getting back to the problem I had with Lynne and Adler; so far I had involved them in just two scenes together that can either be described as erotic or voyeuristic, depending on your point of view. It was childsplay compared to what came next – their first no holds barred love scene. Well, that’s not strictly true. I had written the original seriously filthy version several weeks earlier. I returned to it from time to time to tone it down. First of all by gradually downgrading it from extremely to moderately pornographic, through to highly suggestive. At long last it became merely suggestive, the state it would remain in until I took another look at it at a later date. Hopefully it would end up being a suggestive erotic love scene, not as easy to achieve as some of you may think, believe me.

Remember this – while one person might consider a love scene like the one I’m talking about to be erotic. To those of the prudish persuasion, it will always be nothing but unadulterated pornographic filth. The funny thing is that I bet the latter will re-read the particular passage several times on their own, while uttering the imortal words – “utterly disgusting!” to alleviate their hypocritical moral outlook.

Face it folks, as writers we just can’t win. Either we’re damned if we do or damned if we don’t. In the end all you can do is leave it up to your readers to decide, always providing of course that it gets past your publisher first.

Oh by the way – the red highlighted words are book links, not just a spot of colour for effect in a sea of black type!!!

More later if you are good.

😉

You know your hooked…

Creative_Writing_Courses

…when writing becomes a vocation and not just an enjoyable hobby!

~~~

While I admire anyone who loves to express themselves through their writing, there comes a time when we all have to choose between continuing with what to us is an enjoyable hobby, and taking it up as a full time vocation. Please note that I did say vocation and not occupation. There is a marked difference…

It takes an awful amount of guts and determination on your part to take that giant leap into the uncertain world of literature, often for little monetary gain let alone plaudits for your work from the reading public and your peers. Apart from anything else you can expect to endure a lot of heartache, angst and sleepless nights as I can personally vouch for from my own experience gleaned over the past two decades plus as a relatively successful published Indie author.

Now where was I? Oh yes – I was about to say that I rarely if ever get a good night’s sleep when writing a new book, at least until the first draft is finished. Nagging thoughts about something in the story literally wake me every night anywhere from midnight to four or five am. The downside of getting up so early is that I’m lucky if I’m still awake after six-thirty pm. So relaxing in front of the television in the evening (in other words – vegging out) doesn’t happen these days.

While the amateur loves the idea of writing thousands of words while engaging in a completely pointless writing phenomena like Nanowrimo believing it makes them a bonifide writer, it doesn’t! Some hard working writers I know in the traditional publishing world must set themselves a daily word count in the multiples of thousands, due to the demands of their agents and publishers. However as an Indie, meaning I’m responsible for every step in publishing a book myself, I do not follow suit. In my case I don’t see the point in churning out thousands of words each day, which in all probability will end up being edited out as totally nonsensicle by your’s truly, before I hand over my MS over for further scrutiny.

Instead I tend to write between two to five hundred words, (the latter being roughly the length of this blog post) knowing full well that when I do go back over them, that in all likelyhood three quarters will either get deleted or be re-written so many times that in the end they bear little or no resemblance to the first attempt, before I feel I can move on to the next part of the story. Even when writing posts like this one, I spend more time re-writing than anything else.

Writing fulltime requires total dedication and a will of iron on your part. One last thing for you to remember – what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. But at least now you know how this writer works…

🙂

Time to fess up!!!

tumblr_n70jdhtcex1sag14uo2_500

Here is a question for all my fellow writers, both published like myself, and those who just love to write for the sheer joy of doing so. How many hours do you spend writing each day and how many words does it involve?

Ever since I changed the way I write from how I used to in decades long since past, when I would spend all day and long into the night to achieve a daily word count in the thousands, I now stick rigidly to a short but extremely intense daily session when I have a new story in mind.

I find this is the method that works best for me. If you are wondering how long; these days I limit myself to adding no more than one to two hundred words per day.

Once I get back into the swing of things, I start writing at five in the morning, finishing promptly at eight am. I find that to continue beyond that three hour working window of 100% concentration, means that silly errors will inevitably begin to creep in due to my state of total mental exhaustion by the end of each session. The rest of the day is taken up with a lot of thought about where the story wants me to go next while I carry on with my normal daily activities.

Years ago when I was still in the workforce I used to spend two to three hours writing each night from Monday until Friday. Then on the weekends I would write for twelve hours on both days. On public holidays the number of hours sometimes stretched from twelve to eighteen. While to the novice, endlessly pouring out words might seem to be the only way to write a story, trust me when I tell you it isn’t!

In fact its often the worst possible way of going about it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the hundreds of thousands of poorly written books out there by writers who convinced themselves that high daily word counts is the only way to go. A daily three hour session is by far the best way from my point of view.

I would love to hear how you go about it, but I know most of you are reluctant to own up. There is absolutely no excuse for you not joining in here. You never know, you might even gain some useful ideas and tips on the subject from one another. So leave your thoughts for others to read as comments below this post.

😉

Are you writing a book?

Liz-S-Writing-Workshop-101Over the past couple of months on several Internet sites for writers, I’ve read many questions and queries plus suggestions and comments regarding the use of correct grammar and speech.

The academically minded among us, plus the vast majority of editors still cling desperately to the fervent belief that a book sans correct grammar will inevitably never make it. While that may be true for books of a historical, biographical or academic nature i.e text books, when it comes to fiction the real key is whether or not the writer can actually tell a story, not if he or she adheres to the accepted rules of English.

When your characters speak, by insisting that they do it correctly you will do yourself no favours. In fact these days it almost guarantees that your book will be lucky to sell more than a dozen copies. In essence, the story and the way your characters converse in a mix of correct speech and common parlance is the key, not the use of perfect English as rigidly laid down by close-minded professors within the English departments of universities worldwide, or even the majority of editors come to that.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the comments in favour of correct grammar are contributed by people from countries whose native language is not English. It’s not their fault. They are merely echoing what they were taught by their teachers.

Think about today’s best selling writers. Do they stick rigidly to the rules of grammar? Most don’t. Gone are the days when the likes of Emile Bronte, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe et al wrote to entertain the educated elite minority. And yet they are still held up as the ideal in literature.

Why when today’s writers must write for the majority. In fact you must know your target readers better than they know themselves. I write specifically for the US market for two reasons.

1. The greater majority in the US are brought up on soap operas, reality shows and film, not literature.

2. Because they are more switched on than any other people, I also only publish my books in Kindle form (Ebooks)

They are my readers, not my own countrymen (the English) and certainly not academics. They will be yours as well if you are brave enough to break away from the idea of literary rules. As my good friend and fellow Antipodean Derek Haines has stated on numerous occasions – when it comes to writing there are no rules…

Writing this article is one example of using correct English. But if I had written my books in the same way, I would not now be enjoying my regular monthly royalty income from them.

If you feel strongly one way or another about the subject of correct English and grammar, don’t just read this article and tut-tut under your breath. I don’t bite. Be brave. Write your comments below.

😉

On Reading Trends…

book

With no book sales since September the twenty-fifth, or sixteen days ago if you prefer, it got me thinking. The other day I was reading one of my old mate Derek Haines’ blog posts from months ago on the subject of what he thinks today’s public seem to prefer when it comes to reading matter.

He looked at the sales figures for the best-selling ebooks at the time of his post. Any book longer than twenty-thousand words didn’t make it into the top twenty. Why? because most people these days, and by that I mean those a lot younger than both Derek and myself, appear to have little or no interest in reading a full length novel. Whether you believe it or not sales figures back up the assertion. Both of us watch the marketplace closely. We’ve become more aware of this latest trend in reading habits in the last several months.

So what’s the answer? It matters little which genre you choose, nor the target audience you aim at. Or for that matter how much money you spent getting your book out there. It appears that for the forseeable future, if you want your book(s) to be noticed by airheads, forget about writing full length novels. Instead it would appear that you must keep your next book’s word count below the twenty thousand ceiling.

As for my generation (the early Baby Boomers born between 1945-50) we’re to long in the tooth to bother about people who do not like to read. We were brought up on novels and so we’ll carry on championing them.

When you read your next novel, don’t keep quiet about it, tell your friends. In the meantime whatever my next book is about, will it be longer than twenty-thousand words?

Stupid question…

😉

~~~

Two links for my books on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Short Story Writing

bestshortstorywriter4

On its own is a short story important? Not necessarily. But as a proving ground to try out ideas with the view to expansion into larger works at a later date, short stories are an invaluable tool.

The trick is to always to keep it short – between five to fifteen hundred words. While you’re writing, if it’s any good your mind will automatically want to expand it to novelette, novella or even novel length.

Don’t give in to temptation. You’re writing a short story!

The main thing to remember once you’ve decided on its subject, is that it must always be brief and to the point. I know I’m repeating myself, but its a fact. How many short stories end up as novelettes when the author looses all sense of self-control?

If you believe your short story is truly worthy, hand it over to a few people to read, in other words employ beta-readers. If their verdict is favourable, the next thing to consider is whether or not to leave it as a single short story, or perhaps the first of a series or anthology, just like my Goblin Tales.

To create any story, especially a short one, you must keep you’re writing tight. Don’t get carried away with what I call flowery prose. In other words don’t feel the need to fill it with utterly pointless rambling.

Unfortunately many short stories I see these days were quite clearly not thought through before being published. To that I say be your own worst critic. If it looks and sounds like total rubbish when you read it out loud, chances are that’s exactly what it is. But don’t let that put you off. Learn from it. So get busy and write a short story.

Remember – mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

😉