Jun 232011
 
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Last time I had the blog we talked about developing a creative personality for the mind in writing short stories

Publishing the hottest in classic and current erotica and erotic romance

The following is a high-octane problem-buster that will make child’s play of even the hardest brain-stumpers and grind down to a manageable size even the most insurmountable dilemmas. It is a development of ideas pioneered by Tony Hodgson, and others.

It’s based on the well-established finding from psychological research that the more different perspectives we bring to a problem, the more ideas we are likely to generate and the more complete our perceptions of it.

You’ve heard of seeing the world through ‘rose-colored glasses’, which cause one to see only the sunny side of things.

Imagine the effect of seeing the world through ten different pairs of colored glasses — one for each hue in the rainbow (and each different spectrum of our mental processes).

Regardless of how difficult the dilemma, you’ll have found the answer long before you’ve tried on the tenth pair. By examining a challenging circumstance through each set of ‘colored glasses’ (each different mental perspective), we achieve a complete, rather than a partial, view, and engage our minds to consider it far more deeply.

 

 

Here are the TEN COLORS

*White – cognitive, the way our mind functions when we are learning, thinking, increasing knowledge or understanding.

* Grey – factual, the way our mind functions when we are absorbing information, scanning for important and critical data.

* Yellow – opportunistic, the way our mind works when we view possibilities from a sunny cheerful, optimistic, positive point of view, and see how we can capitalize on and make the best of events and situations around us.

* Black – critical, the way our mind functions when we are serious, skeptical, analytic, seeing the potential problems on the road ahead.

* Green – creative, the way our mind functions when it sends up the shoots of fresh, new imaginative, creative, innovative new ideas.

* Brown – practical, the way our mind things when we are being down to earth, thinking things through logically, incrementally, objectively, within existing systems and assumptions.

* Blue – holistic, the way our minds work when we are looking at the big picture and engaged in strategic planning.

* Orange -molecular, the way our mind works when we are attempting to throw light on the individual parts of something, either to identify or place them.

* Violet – directive, the way our mind works when we are thinking about crucial aims, objectives, decisions, when we have arrived at a turning point or crossroads, and have to make a gut-level choice about what it is we truly want.

* Red – Opinionated, the way our mind works when we are offering our own view or seeking the views of others, and either arguing our position, debating another, or melding the two together to achieve a greater understanding or consensus.

Next time we’ll cover the last lesson from me on Developing your Creativity

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Jun 162011
 
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There’s no doubt about it, things are really tough right now: aside from the depression/recession that seems to be killing publishers daily—and making life even harder for writers—there’s the too-often- painful transition from print to digital books, and the problem of getting yourself heard in a world full of other authors screaming for attention.

So it’s only natural that writers would feel a lot of pressure to write books and stories to fit what they think is the flavor-of-the-moment, to work only to spec.

So, should you do it? In my opinion the answer is a definitive, absolute, certain … kind of.
Before getting too far into it, I should back up a tiny bit and say that stories are very different—no duh—critters than novels. Aside from the obvious length thing, the big difference between the two is that with stories getting the out into the world usually depends on if you’re writing for a specific anthology, Web site, and such. If that’s the case then, absolutely, you should work to try and meet the guidelines set by the publisher or editor.

But even then you can be too specific, follow the guidelines too literally. It goes like this: you sit down and create the perfect story for a project—one that you’ve carefully crafted to be exactly what the editor is looking for. The problem, though, is that a lot of other writers are more than likely doing exactly the same thing, so when they all arrive on the editor’s desk you could very well be just one of a dozen perfect stories.

The trick is to step onto the tightrope between being exactly what the editor wants and unique enough to stand out. Alas, this is easier said than done, but there are a few important things to remember that can make it a tad easier to pull off. First of all, always respect the editor’s plan for the book: if they are reading for, say, a vampire book, then don’t send in a werewolf story. Second, being unique doesn’t mean using the book as a personal platform: even though you might hate vampires, try to write a story that respects the genre and its readers. Thirdly, the best way to stand out from the pack isn’t by being audaciously outré, but instead by writing a unique but still accessible story—a new twist, but not something completely warped.

Hey, I never said it was easy. There’s something else to always keep in mind when you’re trying to walk that very thin line between mundane and outrageous: you’re taking a risk. If you’re lucky, then yours will be the story that stands out from the rest of the submissions on the editor’s desk, or be the one in the book that everyone talks about. If you’re unlucky, though, then you’ll get a rejection slip.

Tough, I know, but here are worse things than rejection—and this is the same for both novels as well as stories. Sure, you can create something designed from word one to fit the flavor of the moment but you’ll be doing everyone, especially yourself, a real disservice: approaching everything you do with only an eye to riding the wave will mean that your work will always just be part of something else, that you’ll never stand out. My favorite story about this comes from a few friends who used to write classic porn—cheap bumpy-grindy stuff. After a few years of so-called-success, they woke up one day suddenly realizing they’d become soulless, lazy writers and couldn’t do anything else.

All this, however, is not to say you never should pay attention to what’s out there or never try your hand at writing for a specific market. Aside from the reward of possibly getting your work out there, trying new things—even trying to be the next flavor of the month—is how writers discover hidden talents or may even find they enjoy writing a certain kind of story or book.

Before closing, I should go back to that difference between stories and novels (again, aside from the length). Stories are always worth an experiment. Novels, though, are a tougher call, as there’s a lot more at risk—months instead of a few days. But it also could be argued that writers should take bigger risks with novels than stories because of that investment, because it’s hard enough to stand out at all, let alone when you’re novel was written to be just like every other one in the genre.

In the end it all comes back to the tightrope, to finding a balance between playing it safe and being unique. One wrong step and you might be too different to be popular, or not even get out there at all, or fall the other way and be yet another copycat book in a fading genre— or trap yourself into being a common, bland, lifeless hack.

Yes, there are tricks and things to keep in mind when you step onto that line but the best teacher, as always, is experience. You will make mistakes, we all do, but with practice you’ll hopefully find what every writer hopes to find: not success (because that word really has no meaning), but instead a balance between art and commerce, between paying-the-bills popularity and admirable literature.

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Jun 102011
 
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So, guess who is a professional playwright now?

I got into the one-act thang a bit late. Having been penning and publishing short stories first and foremost in my illustrious career (it’s only illustrious to me, believe me) it didn’t take all that much time to be able to claim being a pro writer and seeing the coin from it (jingly change though it was). It had less to do with how wonderful my writing was then the fact that I really began all this stuff in earnest penning 800 # pre-recorded phone-sex scripts and being paid for them from the get go. I did spend the requisite time in the trenches sending out my sci-fi short stories, essays, etc. (and still do in fact) but for the most part when I began writing sex (and that was pretty damn early in my writing career) I got paid for it relatively quickly, so I was a pro none too long into the effort.

The SEO thang and the play writing seemed to have begun for me in earnest at the same time-though one has nothing to do with the other-and having just had a one-act run (or “go up” as we pros call it in the business) in the great city of Portland, OR and been paid for that effort (and my first time being so) I can now say I am a professional playwright. Which now leads me to (after all the bragging) my point for this installment.

Gotta get paid.

It doesn’t always happen and I am not saying only ever do this writing thing for the money, but truly if you want to make a living at this or at least earn some sort of self respect at it and maybe the respect of your peers, nothing emboldens one better then getting coin of the realm for your hard earned efforts. Which brings me to my point about SEO writing (see, you didn’t think I could tie it all in, did you?). As we all know from searching for work, there are plenty of places that are looking for written content and a good many of them on line. Most, if not all, businesses know about or have heard rumblings over what SEO is and want to have some of it on their site.  And because this writing is specialized-sorry, but not everybody can do it or do it well-the owners of the sites usually-and that’s usually with a big “ually”-know they must pay for a writer to write SEO. Now what they pay will vary and often they will attempt to low ball you on a price, as mostly everyone these days will for any and all services, so the more you can bring to the table about SEO-knowing what meta-tags are, knowing where to research keywords, how to monitor analytics to assure the client you are doing your job-the more valuable you are and the more you can demanded.

So I guess really this time out I want to impress you with a few things. One, it’s good to get paid for your writing, even if it is just a little bit and secondly, you can get more than just a little bit the more valuable you are to who hires you. My playwriting now, in the beginning stages though it is, is now just a tinge more valuable in the overall objective scheme of things because I have had a few plays produced at this writing and I have been paid now to do so. So getting paid, while not the reason we right, does help put food on the table and some crack into the old pipe.

Go forth and play this stage called life my little droogs with your writing wares and unlimited desire for abuse.

where it all happened, by the way can be seen here:

 

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Jun 022011
 
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If we take the plot advice from Morgan Hawke and continue with our writers education, we’re at the part now where we describe the character arc.  This is the particular point of any story at holds interest because it keeps your attention.  But what is the crux of the story?

According to Morgan’s post here we know that stories are about change.  The hero and heroine must face inner demons and come out stronger after they’ve fought their obstacles.  Think about it.  In erotica this is a little less downplayed because the plot is focused on the characters getting together but in longer pieces, novella length and up, there is some sort of change going on.  How exciting would the story be if the plot looked like this:

Hero and Heroine spotted each other.
They fucked in every possible way, position, with all sorts of toys.
The end.

Might be fun for a few minutes and it might be worth a good laugh but how about this plot instead:

Hero and Heroine meet
They fuck only to realize that each has their hangups about certain sexual positions and toys. (Oh noes!)
ENTER CONFLICT
Hero and Heroine separate despite the great sex and connection
Something puts them back together
They fuck more and realize that in the end they cannot stop fucking but they HAVE to get past their hangups.

Morgan talks about the seven stages of Grief and she uses that arc a LOT.  Why?  Because working off the emotion of angst we have something that gives us CONFLICT.  Since our stories, be they erotica or erotic romance in my case, are about emotional connections, we need conflict.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that all fiction stories are truly about emotional conflict.  Think about some of the classic non erotic stories like Huckleberry Fin or anything Shakespeare ever wrote.  The stories are about people. And people are NOT emotionless robots (mostly) but we have to have a vested interest in them, otherwise why bother with them?

I will disagree with one point Morgan makes ONLY in the sense of character development.  I believe our stories are about growth, not change.

Think about change like this:  One moment I’m wearing my blonde hair down to the floor, the next it’s chopped back to an inch in length, spiked and dyed blue. And I’ve stopped listening to metal in favor of elevator music.  That is change.

Growth is a teenager with angst over his father’s “unfair” treatment only to realize as a man that his father was trying to teach him lessons.  The idea is simple:  The underlying resentment caused pain that must be dealt with and in a teenagers mind, but in the mature person’s mind that resentment is analyzed and understood.

Going through the seven stages of grief started from Angst at a situation, person or incident gives us a backbone to our stories.  Using that same bit of angst in our sex scenes helps add depth and flavor to draw our readers in more.  It gives them something to connect with and a reason to keep reading.

 

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