Feb 272015
 
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By M.Christian

“Dialogue can be tricky—”

“Whatcha mean ‘dialogue can be tricky’?  It’s just people talking, right?  How hard can it be?”

“You’d be surprised.  For instance, a lot of people think that dialogue should be … um … er … ah … accurate.  But if you wrote down how people actually talk it’s kind of … muddled … youknowwhatImean?”

“Okay, I getcha: you mean people should have distinctive voices, sound like human beings, but not cram those voices with the stuff real people actually say when they’re talking.”

“Bingo!  It’s also important to know some basic dialogue grammar and punctuat—”

“—like dashes for when someone gets interrupted—”

“—right!  Or when you…”

“Trail off, right?  What about ‘OK’?”

“Well, the jury is out on that one.  Personally I don’t like two huge caps in my dialogue.  I prefer the more natural ‘okay.’  The same with tags, some people think that you have to have at least one tag at the end of a line of dialogue, but others say you don’t need any as long as it’s clear who’s doing the speaking—especially if it’s just between two characters, like us.  Just be sure not to go too long without a tag as readers can sometime lose track of the characters.”

“I’m hip.  I heard someone say that you should know who’s doing the talking by their vocabulary or style, but not to be so obvious that it’s clumsy.”

“It’s tricky, to be sure, but it really helps bring a character to life.  Also, don’t hesitate to use typographic emphasis in dialogue, especially when it makes what a person is saying clear.  Just stay away from ALL CAPS—”

“Jeez, no need to shout.”

“Or too many exclamation points!!!!”

“Which just sounds weird.”

“It’s much better to use simple italics … just be sure and put them where they’re most needed and not just willy-nilly as, again, it comes off as … bizarre.”

“Right.  What also gets me is when characters talk all stilted-like.  I mean, come on: you can be loose and be hard to follow but too stiff and it’s like listening to two damned robots.”

“To be sure!  Try listening to your characters.  Pay attention to writers who do dialogue well, or to good movies or TV shows.  That’s how a writer learns, after all.  You can also use … what is it called?  Oh, yeah: grammar as a way of giving a character life like … pauses, like that.  Or (watch where you’re stepping, buddy) asides, like that, or [can you tell me the way to the train station], he said in French.  Stuff like that.  But, again, don’t try to be too clever ’cause it’ll just pull readers out of the story.”

“What about if you have someone who’s … what did Bob say? ‘Quoting from another character’?”

“Yeah, that can be tricky. Technically you just have to put a single quotation mark in there like you did, but I don’t like to have people directly quote another character.  It’s confusing, and unrealistic since we rarely remember what someone exactly said: kind of pulls the reader out of the dialogue.”

‘Then there’s the Brits—’

“Oh, yeah; that can be confusing: British copy editors often have single quotes for dialogue.”

“You know what ruffles my feathers?”

“Do tell.”

“When people think you have to have a whole new tag at the end of each line of dialogue, like repeating ‘said’ is some horrible rule to stay away from.  I mean, come on, it can get real silly real quick: people ‘said’ then ‘uttered’ then ‘proclaimed’ then ‘spouted’ … sheesh!”

“I hear ya.  The same goes fer people talkin’ way too much with whatcha might say is an accent.  Get with it, folks: if ya can’t understan’ it it ain’t gonna work—”

“Or when youse puts in whatcha think is ah poinsonal style a’ talkin’ and all da happens is it’s either confusin’ or insultin’—youse catcha my drift?”

“Oh, yeah!  Nothing worse that a character you can’t understand, or one who sounds like a poorly constructed stereotype.   I understand wanting to show off someone’s character through their dialogue, but ya gotta do yer research and keep it down to a dull roar.”

“Like with historical characters.  Oh, man, that gets my goat: when you got this Roman legionnaire saying, like, ‘okay’ or something like that.  Or a Victorian British character using 21st century terms.  Sure, too much accuracy is just as bad … ’cause I doubt anyone would ever understand a word they were saying … but that doesn’t mean throwing a bunch of anachronisms into a story, either.  So, what about sex?”

“Here?  Now?  With all these people watching?”

“Ha-ha, Mr. Comedian.  No, I mean what about dialogue with sex scenes?”

“Oh, that.  Well, stay the hell away from onomatopoeias—”

Gesundheit.”

Now who’s the comedian? Onomatopoeia: ‘the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named’, according to Webster’s.  In erotica it’s oooooh, aaaaah … stuff like that.  Sound effects, you could say.  Always horrible in erotica.  You can just write that someone laughed or moaned.”

“Oh, yeah, I know what you mean.  Like you said, too, I guess: make sure your characters use the right words for what they’re doing.”

“God, yes. And research is important but, again, don’t let it get in the way of being clear about what’s happening.  Back to the Victorians: they used a lot of slang for sex and body parts—so you can have fun there … just not too much or it can either get confusing or make you look like a show-off.”

“Okay, Mr. Expert: what advice can you give a writer about dialogue?”

“Well, for starters, feel your characters.  Listen to them.  Don’t worry about avoiding grammatical mistakes—you can always fix that later—just get their voices down on the page.  Use your own life: the way you and your friends talk … just don’t be too literal.  Try to push yourself: if you feel your dialogue could do with some work, read plays or listen to movies or shows with the picture off to get a feeling for how people talk.”

“Sounds good to me … but you forgot an important one.”

“Oh?  Enlighten me.”

“Write nothing but two people talking to each other.”

***

About M. Christian
Calling M.Christian versatile is a tremendous understatement. Extensively published in science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and even non-fiction, it is in erotica that M.Christian has become an acknowledged master, with more than 400 stories, 10 novels (including The Very Bloody Marys, Brushes and The Painted Doll). Nearly a dozen collections of his own work (Technorotica, In Control, Lambda nominee Dirty Words, The Bachelor Machine), more than two dozen anthologies (Best S/M Erotica series, My Love for All That is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica, The Burning Pen, and with Maxim Jakubowksi The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Road).  His work is regularly selected for Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and others. His extensive knowledge of erotica as writer, editor, anthologist and publisher resulted in the bestselling guide How To Write And Sell Erotica.

In addition, he is a prolific and respected anthologist, having edited twenty five anthologies to date. He is also responsible for several non-fiction books, notably How to Write and Sell Erotica.

M.Christian is also the Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, where he strives to be the publisher he’d want to have as a writer, and to help bring quality books (erotica, noir, science fiction, and more) and authors out into the world.

He can be found in a number of places online, not least of which is mchristian.com.

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Feb 212015
 
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By billierosie

My friend Ed likes to be dominated by a woman. For Ed it is his raison d’etre—his reason to live. I asked Ed to explain how it works. Here’s what Ed told me…

For the past 35 years or so, beginning long before I was old enough to act on my desires, I have been drawn to the mystery and magic of dominant women. There are millions of men just like me, though relatively few discuss it openly. In fact, many overcompensate with a macho pose that reminds me of teen boys who think smoking makes them look cool. You know the type: they pinch a cigarette with a pinky jutting out that has no other place to go at the moment. Holding a smoke in an inexperienced hand, the kid announces to the world his nervous foray into manhood, or at least an awkward semblance of it.

I have known other submissive men, and the Pose is a common theme among them. They talk about women as though they understand, appreciate and ultimately conquer them with a rakish style, a heady cologne and swagger. They fool some of their mates, but they don’t fool me. Never have. I have been submissive to exotic and commanding women since before many of these chintzy peacocks were born. And what have I discovered? Exactly this: any woman with a healthy dose of self-esteem and a cultivated air of authority will bring any heterosexual man—be he submissive, dominant, neither or both—to his knees whenever she pleases.

Even when being coyly submissive, such a woman is in control of herself, in control of the situation, and in control of the overheated male, blind to his own complicity in her plans for seduction. It probably has been like this forever. If there indeed was a Garden of Eden, it was Eve after all that wielded the apple, plunged Adam from his perch of grace and blamed it all on a lying snake. That she also was banished from Paradise only authenticates her humanity, else countless men would be tempted over and over again by her sweet, swaying sorcery. Heaven would never be rid of us.

Yet don’t we men clumsily forget that essential fact, her very powerful humanity, as applied to the domination of males throughout the ages? If Woman was Divine and not mortal, where would be the glory in her triumph? Goddesses at play are a provocative myth, but the power of Womanhood is tangibly real. In the fever swamp of lust, up to our eyes in desire, we men surrender our tenuous grip on independence—a maddeningly ephemeral quality even in daily life—and we fall to our knees and worship the source of our physical being. No price is too high or sacrifice so exorbitant that we can resist answering with a meek yes when She shouts Her stern, insistent warnings. And then we jump madly, all primally enchanted fools, into the ultimate trap, a honey-moistened delta of destruction awaiting our swollen egos.

And, clever in her erotic wickedness, She will have us begging for more. In the inescapable clutch of her talons, our pride bleeds away as our seed splashes into the void. Thus She encloses and conquers him, and the archetypal Femme Fatale is celebrated, adored and obeyed by the very victims that would greedily have held her for ransom had they been conceived with the pluck to outwit Mother Nature.

I do not know a man alive or dead (starting with myself!) who would not play out this eternal drama to infinity, Sisyphus grunting and pushing his damnable rock, so long as occasionally, as might satisfy our rulers, their gates of Heaven opened, however sparingly, admitting the unworthy—all of us simple, salty males—to enjoy, however fleetingly, the ecstasy of release, madly shooting spasms of our essence through her portal to the stars.

Men are proud beggars, an irony of hard muscle and weak will. Women who grasp this verity are fit to rule their men, from affairs of the boudoir to the politics of the planet. It is the next Great Awakening.

***

billierosie has been writing erotica for about three years. She has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, in The Wedding Dress. Logical Lust accepted her story “Retribution” for Best S&M 3. She has also been published by Sizzler, in Pirate Booty and in their Sherlock Holmes anthology, My Love of all that is Bizarre, as well as Hunger: A Feast of Sensual Tales of Sex and Gastronomy and Sex in London: Tales of Pleasure and Perversity in the English Capital. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship, as well as novellas Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli, both published by Sizzler Editions in 2012 and available for purchase at Amazon.
billierosie can be found at Twitter, @jojojojude and at her blog.

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Feb 142015
 
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by Suz deMello

For many of us who write erotica, the paranormal sub-(sub-)genre is the most enticing one of all, with its many ways to increase sexual tension. World-building allows us to create our own erotic settings, invent sexier creatures than those who exist on our planet, traipse through time to find or lose lovers…we can bend reality any way we choose. We can invent supernatural beings both virtuous and villainous; we can invest the corners of our new world with quirks, setting up the thrills and spills that make a great read.

Really, though, the paranormal encompasses so many sub-sub-genres! These include, but are not limited to: futuristic, including science fiction; steampunk; time travel; fantasy, which encompasses “creature” stories with vampires, weres, the fae, dragons, zombies and the like, as well as magic and witchcraft. All of these can be mixed into any story brew you please.

Take the basic elements of any book and consider how they could be made paranormal, i.e., beyond the normal.

Characters and conflicts

There’s a natural tension in a romance between a paranormal entity and a human, and you can exploit this to your advantage and to the betterment of your book. Vampires are a great example. How can there be a “happily ever after” in a romance between an immortal, virtually invulnerable being and someone who will, inevitably, die? Would any sensible vampire dare to open his or her heart to a fragile human?

And how can a human trust in the love of an immortal? We who age must fear the loss of an immortal’s love.

Vampires, being denizens of the night, are intrinsically mysterious. As powerful predators, vamps step easily into villainous roles, but lately we’ve been reading about heroic vampires as well; with their extraordinary senses, vampires can make extraordinary heroes. The vampire lovers in my short story Blood is Thicker… are a case in point. One’s a detective and the other a private investigator.

There’s also natural tension in a relationship between different supernatural beings. Werewolves and vampires are both dominating creatures with their own alpha males and females figuring into many an erotic romance. What happens when territories overlap? Clashes are inevitable, and the sex is awesome.

Many writers have created supernatural beings whose abilities amplify each other’s. For example, Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz) created different types of psychics in what I call her flower trilogy (Amaryllis, Orchid, and Zinnia); their differing talents need each other in order to focus and operate powerfully. Thus, they have to work together in dyads to solve the mystery and trap the villain. Often (but not always) in a heterosexual pairing, the psychics experience sexual tension, emotional intimacy and conflict via this device with, say, one psychic wondering if the other loves her or if he’s simply invested in their complementary powers.

Other writers create creatures made for sex. Succubi and incubi, supernatural demons who use humans for sex and seed—these and so many others have all become quite popular. Some writers have invented aliens which can extrude body parts and insert them into their human subjects for pleasure and pain.

Setting

Setting is an often overlooked aspect of our novels. As an editor, I have read several stories with completely unspecified or only vaguely sketched-out settings. As a reader, I like to be grounded in a story. I like to know where and when the story’s taking place. As a writer, I let the reader know where and when the story’s taking place, even if the both are completely imaginary, e.g., “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

In a paranormal story, it is fatal to overlook setting. The more richness and depth you can impart to your story’s world within the constraints of wordcount, the better—in fact, some settings are so compelling that they will earn your book a spot on many a reader’s “keeper” shelf. Fans return again and again to the Harry Potter books and to Tolkien not only because of the intriguing characters, compelling conflicts and universal themes, but because they want to spend more time at Hogwarts or exploring Middle Earth. Orson Scott Card calls fiction dependent upon a particular setting milieu fiction, and gives Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy as an example.

Of course you may create any setting that compels you, but when you do so, consider how it will facilitate or block mystery and romance.

When world-building for a paranormal erotic romance, I like to include elements that will facilitate sexy situations. In Queen’s Quest, a paranormal erotic thriller, I postulated a planet with an extremely low birthrate. Babies were rare and prized. Thus, sex was encouraged—including public sex—which enabled me to include numerous erotic scenes, while the dearth of normal births encouraged the characters to find other reproductive methods. These added to the suspense subplot (I don’t want to say more without providing a spoiler alert) as well.

Settings need not be exotic and magic need not be arcane, invented from whole cloth. You can use what you already know. I drew upon my teenage interests in Tarot reading and Wicca to write Gypsy Witch, an erotic short story set in my hometown of Sacramento, California during the dog days of late summer. A character used witchcraft to bring to life the stone statues of knights set at the doorway of the downtown Masonic Temple, bringing magic to an otherwise mundane setting. The romantic conflict ended in a ménage—a different kind of magic.

Theme

Theme is also overlooked, and unfortunately so; it’s intrinsic to our stories, as much so as words themselves. Many paranormals feature the clash of good against evil, often employing mythical and/or religious figures such as goddesses and gods, angels, devils, demons and the like. They will inevitably dabble in moral questions that the author may or may not have intended to raise—but it’s no wonder they make their way into our books; these questions are older than Faust, older even than the Bible.

Coming of age stories are also common, and (if the characters are old enough to consent freely) can be particularly enthralling in an erotic context. In erotica, we often read the induction of a virgin into the pleasures of sex. One of my erotic short stories, First and Last, was about an arranged marriage on a lunar colony. Similarly, another popular theme is the BDSM newbie learning about the joy of kink.

The message? Erotica isn’t only about sex, and paranormal content is an exciting and infinitely fertile way to engage the reader. Write a good story and weave in explicit sex and you’ll have a really good story. Put it on another planet and you’ll have a great story.

***

About the Author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written nineteen books in several genres, including nonfiction, memoir, erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms Totally Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

–Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com

–For editing services, email her at suzdemello@gmail.com

–Befriend her on Facebook, and visit her group page.

–She tweets @Suzdemello

–and posts to Pinterest

–and Goodreads.

–Her current blog is TheVelvetLair.com

 

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Feb 072015
 
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By Nobilis Reed

I just finished listening to the audiobook of Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. It’s a nonfiction analysis of the science of how human sexuality evolved. Mainly, it takes aim at the evolutionary psychologists that have presented us with a competitive model of monogamy and cheating, where men evolved to try to impregnate as many women as possible without commitment, and women evolved to select only those mates who could be coerced into committing. They point, instead, to a tribal culture where sex was free and open, used not for a “pair bond” but rather as a bond for the entire tribal band. Competition, in their view, takes place at fertilization (i.e. whose sperm will fertilize the egg) rather than by restricted matings.

It’s a fascinating book, and so chock full of useful information I won’t bother to summarize all of it here. Instead, you should read it. Or listen to it, as I did. I think you’ll find it quite convincing.

The important takeaways for me as an erotica author are manifold. Among many other things, this book explains why more women read erotica than men. It explains why MFM menage is more popular than FMF.

Sperm competition is one of the most important ideas in this book. The basic idea is that a woman’s body is designed to make fertilization difficult, so that only the fittest sperm make it to the egg. Biochemistry, the woman’s immune system, even the shape of her cervix are all designed to weed out all but a tiny fraction of sperm. This means that in evolutionary terms, it is advantageous for her to have sex with as many men as possible, in order to make that competition as fierce as possible. That explains why a woman (generally) still wants sex after she’s had an orgasm, more than a typical man would. This would seem to me, to explain why MFM menage is so popular; it synchs up well with that fundamental drive.

Sperm competition also explains why women can stay aroused for long periods of time, in spite of orgasm. To me, this is related to the greater demand for longer erotic work like novellas and novels among women. For a long time I had thought that this was simply sexism, a greater tolerance for such interests in women than in men, but I can see now that view was flawed. The difference isn’t cultural, it’s biological. Or at least, it could be.

Another book that’s been on my mind is Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering. This one talks about the nature of sexual paraphilias and how they come about; it appears that your average male’s sexual preferences are set during early adolescence and persist strongly for the rest of his life, whereas your average female’s are more malleable. This is referred to briefly in Sex at Dawn, as well. Again, there’s a lot more going on in this book than I can summarize here; I recommend it to anyone interested in writing books that hook deep into the reader’s psyche.

To my mind, this causes the interests of male readers to become tightly focused; they want particular body types, activities, or themes presented, the same ones over and over. They discover an author or website that focuses on what they want, and they stick with it, as long as it keeps feeding their particular interests. Women, on the other hand, being more flexible, can find lots of things sexy; this explains why more women write erotica, and why there’s more variety in erotica marketed to them.

These influences may have been presenting some obstacles to my career, or at least my ignorance of these influences hasn’t been helping me any. I’ll be keeping this new information in mind as I go forward.

***

Stories that don’t stop at the bedroom door—or the castle gate—or the airlock.
http://www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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