Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 3 of 3

 

Give & Take 150516

FREE  weekend on Amazon –  Sat 30th / Sun 31st July 2016

In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.

In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.

I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….

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In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.

Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.

We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?

The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.

I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:

1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’

2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.

3. A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.

4. An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.

5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

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What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?

Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.

1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.

2. I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.

3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.

4. Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.

5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.

I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarWhich erotica appeals to me?

I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.

Which erotica irritates or alienates me?

When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.

When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.

Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.

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Where do I go from here with my titles?

I have erotica poetry within my Love and Romance volume, short stories in Coming Around: and other erotic stories and my novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica.

Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.

Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

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Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.

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As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.

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We are all editors!

Blog on editing - image
Are we really all editors?
Yes, really. Let’s look at a few examples.
A handwritten or typed note. An informal letter. An official form. A poem, short story or a novel.

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What do they all have in common?
If we were honest, we rarely get across the intended or perhaps the necessary information at the first attempt, irrespective of the category of our ‘writing’. This means that when we change a part of our original document, we are editing.
Books have been written about editing. With that in mind, please remember that my aim is merely to draw attention to the importance of editing and hopefully highlight some of the prime issues for the unwary.

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What is editing?
An accepted definition is any, ‘change made before the final copy is ready for submission’. With particular regard to the indie writer, I would suggest that the final copy could be some way off, so please don’t believe that you write, you edit, you publish.

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Let’s extend our simplified look at editing to include drafts.
Each time you amend the document you are working on the next draft. For example if you’ve written a story and you go through it to edit, the end result is the second draft. If you go through and edit again, then that one becomes the third draft and so on.
You write a story and are happy with the general feel of the manuscript. You have your first draft. We’ll say for the sake of argument that like me, you don’t have a team of editors. You have a long road ahead of you if you intend to edit the work yourself. There is a variety of issues to watch out for, but they cannot all be searched out at once. It takes a slow, systematic approach whereby each aspect of editing is tackled separately.
Look at my next question and ask yourself if you could check for all of the issues listed – and deal with all of them at the same time.

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What are we looking to amend?
Incorrect syntax (assembly or structure of sentences), punctuation, grammar, spelling (for a particular market), unnecessary word usage and incorrect word usage. We must also check for: incorrect use of capitalisation and efficient use of dialogue tags.
Those items are the basics, because if we are writing a short story or novel we have to be aware of many other issues. We must check continuity, facts, weights, measures, cliche, dialect, slang, racism, sexism, and more.
What about sentence length, paragraph length, section breaks, page breaks, headings, sub-headings and suchlike?
These are items I would classify under formatting. Having said that though, I would keep a wary eye on sentence and paragraph length while writing.

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What’s the difference between editing and formatting?
To my way of thinking, the main difference is that editing is the nitty gritty of our manuscript, whereas formatting is more to do with presentation. For example, when e-publishing we should keep in mind that the average paragraph should be smaller than it would be for a traditionally published book.
In December 2014, I stopped reading a book on my Kindle because the average paragraph was taking up two or three screens. If that occurs it becomes a block of text to the reader.

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I have no doubt that there will be those who visit, read this post and have their own opinions on editing. If you are one such person, please leave a comment. The more we discuss the topic, the more benefit it will have for each and every one of us.
My intention is to produce a topic heading in my main menu in which I’ll list a variety of the issues pertaining to self-publishing. I mean e-publishing as opposed to paper publishing. Under that topic I will build a selection of issues to watch out for and a simple guide with regard to how I deal with those issues.

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What can you expect to see in my self-publishing menu?
Editing (of course), formatting, use of numbers, use of capitals, continuity, simple research and also dialogue.
Before I close I’d like to thank Michael Roberts from our Indie Author Review Exchange on Facebook. Why? It was thanks to Michael that I put this post together and I will go on with the other projects mentioned above.
Michael asked in the Facebook thread if I had any trusted editors. Unfortunately the answer is no. I paid for an editor once, but it is an expense few of us can afford. I decided after my first novel to build my own system, which I must admit has been refined with each book I’ve produced.

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Why don’t I pay for an editor?
Let’s see … should I pay for a line editor, a copy editor or a proof-reader? Each of those is different and each could be paid for separately but still not produce the best result to meet the author’s needs and budget.
Finding a good editor is like finding a good anything. You must consider cost, time, means of contact, whether or not you accept suggestions and many more factors.

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Have I paid for anything to help with my editing?
Yes, I pay for a programme called Grammarly, which like all such things has a few glitches, but it helps me speed up the editing process and draws my attention to some classic issues. It is an essential part of my editing system, but I still make the suggested amendments manually, I never click on the automatic adjustment. Like I said, there are glitches.

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This feels like about the right time to stop …

Thinking, “Talking”, and ‘Quoting’

How and when to use quotation (speech) marks can be confusing.     Website - Author page

Should we use ‘single’ quotation marks or “double”?

When we write a story we are invariably going to use dialogue. We are also likely at some point to use a character’s train of thought.

Before a word is written the author must be clear on how the text is going to be presented throughout the entire story.

Thoughts

If there is difficulty in remembering whether to use ‘speech’ marks, just keep in mind that thoughts are not the spoken word – therefore there are no speech marks used.  Simple.

Example:

How should I demonstrate this, he thought.

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Talking

There are those that say we should use single quotation marks, and others suggest double. For many years it was thought that one method was right and the other was wrong, and that certain nationalities used single, while others used double. It is one of the many aspects of creative writing that has seen a lot of flexibility over the years.

It appears to be a growing trend to use single quotation marks. Check out work by Lee Child, Jeffrey Archer, or Ian Rankin. They all use single quotation marks for regular dialogue.

I admire all of these writers, but my own preference is to remain with double and I will go on to explain my reasoning.

Examples:

Single – ‘The use of single speech marks is quicker when typing,’ he suggested.

Double – “I know,” I agreed, “but there are times when double helps. It tends to make me concentrate whenever I’m using dialogue.”

Now those two simple sentences demonstrate that either method works equally well, so I will now go on to complicate things a little.

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Quotes

We must also remember the use of a quote within a piece of dialogue. If the regular dialogue has been produced with double quotation marks, then any quote within the speech should be completed in single quotation marks. If the regular dialogue has been produced with single quotation marks, then any quote within the speech should be completed in double quotation marks.

Example 1.

“What did he say to you?” Helen asked.

“Well,” Barbara said and paused. “He said, ‘Check it out first,’ and that was it.”

Example 2.

‘What did he say to you?’ Helen asked.

‘Well,’ Barbara said and paused. ‘He said, “Check it out first,” and that was it.’

Either method works equally well as long as it is used consistently throughout the manuscript.

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In Summary

There are other occasions when single quotation marks are used in a manuscript, but I’ll write about them in my next post. However we decide to play it out in our writing there are guidelines we should observe.

  1. The writer must remain consistent in the use of either single or double throughout the manuscript.
  2. Whenever a quote is inserted within a passage of dialogue, the quote must be in the alternative type of quotation marks to the main speech.

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As always, thank you for dropping by, especially if you decide to leave a comment. I’ll be back with more soon.

The Art of Letting Go – a review

41o0Nt-NySL[1]This is a well-developed book, from the clever title and front cover, to the ending. Characters come alive as you read each small detail unfolding.

The imagery is vivid and enables you to sense the atmosphere of the various meeting places. The dialogue is so natural and well written, you can imagine the voices.

The technique of creating each chapter from an individual character’s point of view is used throughout to great effect. I first saw the method used in, ‘The Clifton Chronicles’ series by Jeffrey Archer.

I respect any writer who works at their craft by researching sufficiently, and that comes to the fore in this tale of intrigue and suspense. One minute you think you know the truth, but in the next character’s point of view, you start to doubt your own theories.

Chloe has created within this story, a small world for her characters to inhabit. By the time you reach the end, you will believe it exists. Kudos, Mrs. Banks.

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Chloe will be making a guest appearance on this very blog in just a couple of weeks.

Stellar Cloud – a review

Cover_1[1]Before I mention the book, ‘Stellar Cloud’, I think it would be pertinent to put something in perspective. My reason for reading Science Fiction was no accident. I believe in broadening my horizons as a writer, by reading widely.

During the A to Z challenge, I enjoyed following Charity Bradford’s blog. The posts she used throughout the challenge were based on Dr Who, the classic British time-travel series.

In itself the topic could be given a light-hearted or devil-may-care treatment, but irrespective of anyone else’s opinion, the alphabet was followed and good posts appeared each day.

The relevance of those challenge posts is simply that Charity’s passion for the genre shines through in them. That same passion allows her to write not only entertaining, but convincing stories in a genre that I do not normally read.

Okay, the average person might think, Science Fiction is not for me, but consider something for a moment. If a story is well told, does it really matter if it’s set in Arkansas, Frankfurt, Rome, or on the planet Zorg?

In ‘Stellar Cloud’ I found a variety of stories that produced the same empathy I would expect for characters in a traditional tale. The imagery was well drawn, the dialogue was natural, and the stories were well told. I found myself believing in each story, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I was delighted to find that each story was different. Irrespective of genre, many writers tend to write repetitive tales and they only differ in location and character names. The situations and conflicts in the ‘Stellar Cloud’ collection are sufficiently different.

Charity brings her book to a close with a Prologue and Chapter 1, for her novel, ‘The Magic Wakes’.

I would suggest if you haven’t tried Science Fiction, then Charity’s offerings are a good place to start.

D … is for dialogue

D[1]

is for dialogue. We’ll take a brief look, at five aspects of today’s topic.

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1. Direct speech.

This is the most commonly used means of conveying information, and producing conversation between characters.

“It really depends on house style, and your market place,” Tom said.

“Yes,” Jane agreed. “I suppose you’re right.”

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2. Indirect speech.

We use this technique to avoid a long drawn out piece of dialogue.

“It really does depend on house style, and your market place,” Tom said, before going on for five minutes to explain a variety of points on the subject.

Jane listened and nodded, realising just how deep a subject it was.

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3. Dialogue tags.

Examples: said, screamed, called, shouted, cried, exclaimed.

We don’t have to use a fancy word, when ‘said’ is the easiest to use, is the least obtrusive, and does the job. Don’t use a big word, because you might send your reader looking for a dictionary. Use something more descriptive if the scene benefits from it.

Keep dialogue short, sharp, and believable. It will keep the story moving forward, and it sounds natural. Try breaking up your dialogue with a tag in mid-sentence; which is something I do often.

“I’ve used it extensively in my novels,” Tom said. “It sounds natural, and allows the reader to take a breath.”

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4. Thoughts.

When a character has a thought, it does not have quotation marks. They are thinking about it; not saying it.

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5. Dialect.

This is one of my pet hates. I’m a Glaswegian. For anyone not of British descent, it means I’m originally from Glasgow, in Scotland. Allow me to demonstrate typical dialect from my hometown. It’s how I used to speak before I left home.

Billy said: “Ah telt ‘im ee’ wisnae gonnae geh’ ennae. Ee’ telt me tae piss aff ‘n mine ma’ ain bizniz.”

“Yurr takin’ thu pish,” Jimmy replied. “Ah’d a’ smakt ‘um in thu’ mooth.”

What is dialect? It’s not everyday language; it is the broad, colloquial tongue of a region or district. It is tedious to write, and awful to read. Why is it a pet hate of mine? It should only be done if the entire story is done in that style, or, if it’s the way a single character speaks at all times.

I’ve seen it in so many stories where the writer has changed back and forward from regular English language to regional dialect and back again, with one character. The character should speak one way or the other.

Thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘E’.

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C … is for Capitals

C[1]  is for capitals. At first glance when writing, the use of capital letters seems easy enough, but when you look a little deeper, it has some basic rules which are easy to miss.

If we take the most obvious examples, we’d be looking at things like proper names; John Smith, Janis Joplin, Cary Grant, etc. There is nothing too difficult there, because a person’s name will not alter in any circumstances within writing, apart from different spelling.

 

Countries and cities have something a little trickier to consider. For example, we would write; London, New York, Paris, England, France, and Africa. When we use the nation’s name as an adjective, the capital letter remains constant; English pub, French fashion house, African township and so on.

The exception to this rule, is when the reference is ‘distant’, and is not necessarily ‘connected’ to the place. We have examples like; french windows, brussels sprouts, danish pastry, and yorkshire pudding. Some writing programmes would have you believe otherwise, by highlighting the word as a spelling error – so be wary.

 

Rank and title are a common area for mistakes. I’ll demonstrate examples in dialogue.

Superintendent Jackson told me that he would investigate the matter,” Peter said.

“I was told by the superintendent that he’d investigate the matter,” Peter said.

 

Relatives can draw you into making errors too. Dad, Mum, Granddad, and so on.

Gordon said: “Mum, are you going to pick up my uniform later?”

Sally said: “I saw your mum down at the bus stop earlier Gordon.”

In summary, I would like to give credit to my bible on this matter: ‘The Writer’s abc Checklist’, by Lorraine Mace and Maureen Vincent-Northam. That book is never further than arm’s length when I’m writing anything serious.

The correct answer to the question at the end of my ‘A’ post was 8. The closest answer was 9, which came from Sarah Neeve, so well done to you Sarah, and thanks for having a go.

Thank you for dropping by. I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on D.

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Ten Days

Pacific Ocean viewed from Panama’s west coast

What is the significance of the title of this post, ‘Ten Days’ ?  It’s got a lot to do with my absence from this blog but it’s not the length of time I’ve been away.  ‘Ten Days’ is the working title I’ve given to my attempt at writing a romantic novel.  What is the significance then of a Central American coastline? It sets the scene for my romantic tale.  Having gone as far as Chapter 12 with the first draft and had it carefully critiqued by a collaborator I’m now satisfied that I’ve learned a few more lessons and I’m ready to go on with the serious work.

I read and reported here on ‘Shades of Gray’ by E.L. James, and learned that I don’t want my intimate scenes to over-promise and under-deliver.  Next I read ‘Want To Know A Secret’ by Sue Moorcroft and found a lot of things I liked although, once again I wasn’t blown away by the intimate moments.  In that area I wanted to find my own voice.  Now that I’ve had a practise at it and had somebody I trust to read it, I’ll confidently go on with the job.

Like any romance there will be the relationship-building of a variety of characters, which will include conflict because it’s not simply a boy-meets-girl scenario.  Dialogue, body language, the rollercoaster that is life and characters having a history will all feature, as of course will lovemaking.  I’m not capable of writing a riveting tale of two people falling in love so there will be some elements of danger for certain characters which I’m hoping will maintain the interest for readers.  My aim is to complete this project by December and now that I’ve had a serious attempt at introducing the main characters and scenarios I’m more confident of success.

Fighting (or writing) in my corner I have a secret ingredient which I believe will be the making or breaking of the idea.  I have not only a collaborator, but a female collaborator.  She has insisted that she isn’t a co-writer but that will always remain our only difference of opinion, which in itself comes from a mutual respect.  Her identity will remain a secret at her request but she will nevertheless have a serious amount of influence on this work.  Why do I consider her so important?  First of all because she was the inspiration for the story but her key feature in checking the writing is that she knows the female psyche better than any man could.

The aim is to complete writing and any re-writing by December and then go through the process of self-publishing on Kindle as an e-book.  I know it’s fraught with dangers of all kinds, but I’d like to go through the process to see how it works and how much work is involved for me.  I’ve now read examples of some particularly bad writing on there so I’m confident that though I may not be the best, I’m by no means the worst.  This is not being done as an ego trip to get published quickly, it’s because I’d like to go through the motions with this tale because I believe in it.

My other novel, ‘Hawk, A Human Hunter’ has been put on hold for now to let me concentrate fully on the new story.  I felt I needed a break from ‘Hawk’ and the writing of something totally different is the most effective way of doing so.

In regard to other projects, I achieved another minor success this month by having a ‘Reader’s Letter’ published in Writing Magazine.  I didn’t win the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook’ this time, although I have won it in the past.  Just getting a letter published in the magazine is good for the confidence.  My letter is about Wunderlist, the time and project management programme – which I use extensively now.   I have as always a handful of short stories at various stages that can be revisited.  Poetry is almost non-existent these days for me although I may write a few verses to get the creative juices flowing.

On the subject of creative juices, I have a date with some characters in a tropical location.  If I manage to lose myself in this project I’ll post an update here, possibly with a bookjacket blurb for practise.