Monthly Archives: January 2014
They say the internet is for porn–a fact which I certainly can’t contest, considering I would be making the argument on a blog dedicated to discussing sex and erotica writing–but the internet is also for nerds. It is, in many ways, our Promised Land, the place where we can simultaneously be ourselves (and any other personality we choose) in a Dali-esque landscape littered with cats and references to Dr. Who. This might seem a strange juxtaposition–sex and nerds, two armies of conflicting culture battling for the same territory–but the reality is these two armies are stronger allies than most outsiders might realize. Why?
One of the first comments I received from the ERWA mailing list on a piece of my erotic work was that my voice was strong, but somewhat over-written. I was genuinely surprised by this because in all of the writing classes and workshops I’ve taken, I’d somehow never heard that term before. Was my meaning not clear? Was my first concern. No, the commentators assured me, it is, it’s just bogged down in extra words that slow down the pacing and flow of a sentence (and, of course, add extra words, something I struggled with not long after as I tried to get a draft for an anthology submission under the required word limit). I believed them, of course, but I was having trouble “seeing” the over-writing in my work in order to correct it.
Luckily, one of the patrons of the list, the illustrious and incorrigible Daddy X, came to my rescue by sending me a list of words that are often over-used (a near-identical list that also includes some cliche phrases can be found on the Write Divas blog). It’s not that these words and phrases should never be used, it’s that they are often unnecessary at best and slow down or weaken their sentences at worst. As an exercise, I started going through some of my shorter works and doing searches for every instance of every word and critically considering A) whether I could delete the word, or, even better, 2) whether there was a more interesting way of wording that sentence to avoid the problem altogether. It was amazingly illustrative. I feel like I made some significant advances in training my eye almost immediately.
Today, Remittance Girl has an excellent post on the ERWA Blog that continues this discussion of over-writing, taking it beyond simple word usage to phrasing and style, with a specific discussion of how over-writing relates to erotica. She also has some interesting things to say in defense of poetry and how poetic thinking can both tighten up and deepen your writing. I am not much of a poetry person myself (I did my poetry report in high school on Robert Burns purely so I would have an excuse to read “Brave Johnny Lad, Cock Up Your Beaver” out-loud in class) but her comments might help change my opinion.
In any event, I am always excited to find resources like these to help me mature as a writer. The practice of writing is exactly that, a practice. In other words, something we should always look to improve upon. Most importantly, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we make some of the same mistakes, since identifying those mistakes in the first place is the most important step in the first place.
I realized that for all my discussion of being a speculative fiction writer and wanting to explore speculative fiction erotica, I didn’t actually have any spec fic stories available. Allow me to remedy that.
The following is a story that I wrote last fall for the annual ERWA Halloween challenge, which encourages topics in the fantasy, paranormal, and even horror genres.
Isabel ran like the devil was chasing her. He might well have been; few other things would drive her to run toward the woods. By all accounts, traversing the woods at night was a risky prospect at best, but entering it tonight, on Witches Eve, was suicide. But the roars of her father behind her spurred her on.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am inordinately fond of Cracked.com. They are bizarrely insightful for a site self-described as a humor site. I will frequently click in to one of their articles with one set of expectations, only to be completely surprised (and often informed) by what it actually contains. One of their recent articles, though, is once again not quite what I was expecting.
The article (listicle, rather) is 4 Weird Side Effects of Learning How to Write. I was half expecting it to be filled with straightforward writing-y things, like your grammar gets better and you become a snob about em-dashes. The things they list, though, are more craft-of-writing things.
But what was most surprising to me was the fact that I already exhibit almost all of these effects.