Nov 302014
 
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By Mistress Lorelei Powers

You’ve carefully described your protagonists: their degree of youth, beauty, and desirable physique. You’ve choreographed the placement of arms, legs, mouths, and genitalia in various positions for maximum satisfaction and ease of description. Maybe you’ve even tested those positions with a willing volunteer to make sure a kneeling submissive of a given height really can reach quite that far with a tongue.

But have you considered how the scene fits into the flow of the narrative? What purpose it serves in the plot?

“But it’s erotica! The whole point of the story is the sex!”

Well, yes and no. The sex is essential, but it isn’t sufficient. Submissions guidelines generally emphasize phrases like “complex plotting” and “storytelling as well-crafted as the sex is hot.” So if you wish to publish your story in an anthology or have your novel accepted for publication, you need to understand how to time a sex scene to make it effective—and incidentally increase your chances of getting the reader and even the editor aroused.


The Role of Sex in Genre

One way to look at the question of how soon and how often is to look at the standards of the particular form you have chosen. Clearly, in a short story, you can’t postpone the first sex scene for 10,000 words, but in a literary novel you just may want to. Pure erotica often has a faster pace than the “erotica plus” genres: erotic romance, erotic suspense, erotic mystery, erotic horror. Old-fashioned pulp porn generally featured a new sexual combination every other chapter.

Many traditional erotic romance novels (AKA bodice-rippers) brought the hero and heroine together about a quarter of the way into the novel, again at the halfway point, and one final triumphant time toward the end. The ones driven by rape plots generally started the action earlier, sometimes in the first half-dozen pages.

In order to get the feel of a form, you must read widely in it. Read the classics of the genre, but also read plenty of contemporary fiction.


The Motives for Sex

Another way to decide where your sex scenes fit into the story is to ask yourself why your protagonists are going to bed. There are innumerable reasons people have sex of any kind. Here are a few:

·    A simple desire for touch

·    Love

·    Wanting children

·    Wanting to establish a relationship

·    Basic horniness

·    To manipulate someone or gain someone’s favor

·    Revenge (usually on someone other than the new partner)

·    Fear

·    Sorrow (grieving people can have incredibly hot sex)

·    Wanting to forget troubles

·    Compulsion by inner demons

·    Boredom

·    Loneliness

·    Curiosity

·    Competition with an established love object or a new flame

·    Hot make-up sex to rebuild a damaged relationship

Think about these motives. They’re not unitary. Each partner may have several motives, some subconscious. Furthermore, the participants may have conflicting motives—a conflict that can drive plot in any of a number of different directions. Most of the noir genre is based on such mismatches, but then so are most romantic comedies.

The motivations for having sex help dictate where the scene should go. If you are working on a story that emphasizes why or how your protagonists get together, the sex should be placed later in the story—as the climax. If a sex scene is the happy ending you have been promising the reader all along, you should place one of them in the final pages to serve as a symbol of happily ever after or at least happily this afternoon.

If your story arises from the complications of the relationship, the first sex scene must appear earlier. In either case, the sex should change things for your protagonists.


The Consequences of Sex

Once your protagonists have gotten together, they have to face the consequences of that sexual act. Complications are the bone and blood of plot, and sex can create a lot of complications.

The desire for sexual fulfillment, whether plain vanilla or a specific kink, is one of the most powerful of all drives. I’ve seen good sex (not to mention failed sex) radically change people’s lives by:

·    Helping them find new confidence and a powerful new sexual/social identity

·    Beginning and ending marriages, creating and rupturing families, causing long-distance moves, resulting in career changes

·    Shifting the balance of power in a love triangle, ultimately dissolving the triangle and severing several relationships

·    Beginning a number of friendships and ending a few

·    Signaling to one party that they were now in a relationship—an assumption the other party didn’t share

·    Serving as glue for a long-term relationship that was otherwise deteriorating

·    Causing a breach between my date and his hyper-religious mother, who threw him out of the house when he refused to stop seeing me

·    Causing pregnancy—a result that can be joyful, disastrous, or anything in between

·    Prompting one party to have a crisis of faith

·    Triggering unexpected memories and feelings (of love, anger, terror, despair, giggling)  in one or both parties

·    Ending with an intervention by the cops

And that doesn’t even go into the matter of the enraged house-sitter waving a machete, who didn’t realize that the homeowners had given us a key and permission to meet there. Can you see the plot possibilities here?

To be effective, sex needs to be woven in and through your story. The urge to have sex or to frustrate someone else’s desires can set your protagonists and the other characters in motion. Once sex has occurred, it can be the catalyst for unexpected changes. Keep on following the trail of desire, frustration, and fulfillment, and you have a plot in which the sex isn’t gratuitous, but essential for the story. And that’s the kind of story that readers—and editors—love.

***

Lorelei Powers, also known as Mistress Lorelei (pronounced LOR-eh-lye, and named for Germany’s famous siren of the Rhine River whose seductive music lured sailors to their doom), is the author of the BDSM how-to classics The Mistress Manual and A Charm School for Sissy Maids, as well as the short story collection On Display. She is a bisexual, polyamorous sadist and lifestyle Domme. She has started using her surname to avoid confusion with her respected colleagues, Lorelei Lee or Lorelei of BedroomBondage.com.

By profession, Lorelei Powers is a writer and editor. Under various other names she has published a number of books, articles, and stories. She also teaches writing classes, gives workshops and presentations on BDSM technique, and offers private coaching sessions by phone or in person for Dom/mes and submissives.

She blogs about BDSM at The Mistress Manual and about sex, feminism, politics, and naked men in bondage at Gallery of Dangerous Women. Follow her Twitter feed at @MsLorelei.

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Nov 152014
 
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By Nobilis

I recently asked some of my writer friends about the plot of a story I’m working on—was it a romance plot? One of the responders said that the plot didn’t matter as much as the tone; that a romance focused more on the feelings of the characters, and erotica focused more on the events and sensations. If the play-by-play of sexuality overshadowed the characters’ feelings and motivations, she said, then the story was erotica rather than romance.*

Now I should say here that I greatly respect this author, and in fact I am an enthusiastic fan of her work. I’m not saying she’s wrong. There’s a certain amount of truth there. Romance does require a focus on the characters’ romantic feelings and motivations, and erotica does require a focus on sensation.

At the same time, I think her answer implies that a work cannot be both romance and erotica at the same time, and I disagree with that. For one thing, any work longer than a short story will shift focus as it moves along. Action, conversation, reflection, and anticipation all bring out a shift in focus. Any story that focused on one of those elements to the exclusion of all others would have serious problems.

For any given character, there are at least two channels in which to consider their story. Stories will often have an “interior conflict” and an “exterior conflict.” The interior conflict deals with the emotional and intellectual life of the character, which can be romantic, or fearful, or curious, or fill-in-the-blank—and most likely some combination of these. The exterior conflict is about the problems they solve, the obstacles they overcome, the experiences they seek out in the world. As it is written, romance tends to live more in the inner life; the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Likewise, erotica lives more in the outer life, in the experiences of the characters. That’s not to say that there aren’t elements that cross over between interior and exterior. But what I’m getting at here is that there’s plenty of room in a romance story for eroticism, and plenty of room in an erotic story for romance.

You can look at science fiction the same way. When the speculative world exists mostly in the exterior, then the interior conflict can be a romance story without interfering much. In contrast, erotic speculative fiction needs to mesh the sensuality with the speculation. The worldbuilding needs to directly address sexuality, or else the two elements are going to fight for attention, and the reader might start to wonder why there’s so much sex in the science fiction story, or why the erotic story is set in a science fiction setting. I come up against this issue any time I write an erotic science fiction story. How I deal with it, well—maybe I’ll write about that in another blogpost.

Erotic Romance is a thing, and it’s a thing that makes sense. There’s no line between them, no border that can be crossed.

And to my friend, if you’re reading this, thank you for giving me a blog topic this month. You gave me a lot to think about.

 

*Or something like that. I may be misquoting her, which would be a shame but wouldn’t alter my point here.

***

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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Jun 132014
 
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By Jean Roberta

I write in several genres, including blog posts and reviews. I also teach first-year university students to write academic essays, which is a particular, ancient art form related to the art of debate. (When universities were first established in Europe in the 1200s, “logic” and “rhetoric” were high on the list of subject matter that scholars were expected to learn.)

I’ve learned a lot from my students. I like to think I can recognize problems in my own writing more readily because I’ve seen the same groaners in student essays. Most of the mistakes I’ve circled and commented on can be summed up as a general lack of coherence. Some students even contradict themselves within a paragraph, apparently without noticing it.

To be articulate, whether in speech or in writing, literally means to connect the dots, to show connections between a premise and the evidence that supports it, between events and their aftermath in a narrative, or between analogies. (For instance: Putin’s recent annexation of part of Ukraine for Russia is parallel to Hitler’s annexation of surrounding territory for Germany in the 1930s – or not. Discuss.) An articulate approach to anything requires work.

Some literary critic once said that bad writing consists of missed opportunities. This sounds similar to incoherence, or a failure to articulate. A good plot premise doesn’t necessarily lead to a good story, because the writer might miss a chance to show where the central character’s value system or motives are likely to lead, or to connect different themes or viewpoints within the story.

Part of the reason why “pornography” has traditionally been considered bad writing is because it leaves out so much of reality. A loosely-plotted story that consists of one sex scene after another might make a great fantasy, and it might inspire a great wank-session, but it doesn’t resemble anyone’s actual life. Even full-time sex workers have things to do that aren’t the least bit sexy – and selling sex to strangers is not the best way to have an endless series of peak experiences.

The challenge of writing about sex, even if it takes place on Planet X or involves supernatural beings, is to integrate the physical activities with the emotions involved, with the cultural context, and with the circumstances that lead to sex. Behind every set of double-D-sized breasts is a human heart. To describe the breasts as part of a tempting body, without acknowledging that every human body of every size and shape includes a complex human psyche, is to be an amateur cartoonist. The anti-porn feminists of the 1970s had some reasonable things to say about this type of writing. Unfortunately, much of what they said has been forgotten or drowned out by conflicts over censorship, which has continued in various forms to this day (Amazon.com, for example, needs to be watched).

When reading over a rough draft of a story, I ask myself: do all these characters belong in the same imaginary world? Even if the plot twists aren’t predictable (a good thing), are they believable (another good thing)? Have everyone’s feelings been clearly represented? What am I leaving out?

Setting a manuscript aside for at least 24 hours, then looking it over with these questions in mind, can lead to useful insights.

If not everything fits together, you might actually have two stories disguised as one. In that case, you can thank your Muse for being so fruitful, and start rearranging.

————————

Jean Roberta writes in several genres. Approximately 100 of her erotic stories, including every orientation she can think of, have appeared in print anthologies. She also has three single-author collections, including The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press, 2013). www.jean-roberta.livejournal.com

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Apr 292014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

by Margie Church

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

That’s the difference I see between sex scenes and erotic romance.

I’ve often started my books out with scorching hot sex between people who just met, but to be successful at romance writing you must create an emotional connection between the lovers. If you don’t, readers—who will have picked up your erotic romance novel in search of both those qualities, but find to their disappointment that it contains only the first—will hate the character who “gives in” to someone who has no apparent love for them, and they’ll hate the character who keeps coming back to take it. It’ll be impossible for readers to respect either character or understand why they care so little about each other.

In the opening chapter of The 18th Floor, Alexa and Sebastian have a blazing hot, chance sexual encounter. She’s been lusting after him for months. Little did she know he had his eyes on her, too.

The tricky part of this scenario was making sure Alexa didn’t appear to continue the relationship solely because she had the hots for Sebastian and he was the most adventurous lover she’d ever had—let alone appear seduced into a liason that would end as soon as Sebastian got tired of her. I had to make it clear after that first scene that Sebastian had a heart, and that he respected Alexa’s intelligence and autonomy.

When Sebastian eventually reveals he’s a Dominant, Alexa has to decide whether she wants to discover what that means or turn around and say goodbye. Sebastian makes it clear that he really wants to keep dating her, but that this part of him isn’t something he can just turn off. As their relationship continues, their honesty and visible care for each other makes it easy for readers to like them together—both in and out of bed.

Here’s an except that challenged me to build their emotional connection. It takes place the evening after their erotic meeting at work. Sebastian has called Alexa to confirm she’s going on a date with him that weekend. One comment leads to another and phone sex ensues.

From The 18th Floor by Margie Church:

He cleared his throat, and drew a long breath. “Strength. I have a sexy body with lots of great muscle tone. When I hold you, you’ll feel my power. You can see my stomach muscles ripple when I’m on top of you, between your legs.”

The comment made Alexa’s pussy throb even more. “Put some lube on your hand. I want you to stroke your beautiful cock.”

While she waited, Alexa went to the armoire to retrieve her favorite dildo. There’s no reason he should have all the fun. She slid the seven-inch toy from its silk case and licked the tip, anticipating the full feeling of it inside her.

His soft moan got her attention. “You’re hard now?”

“Yeah, very.”

“Tell me how it feels to watch yourself stroke your dick. Lift it up, show me your balls.”

“Tension…heat building in my balls…my stomach and thigh muscles are tight, like I’m getting ready to jump. I want some pussy.” He hissed, “I want yours.”

Goose bumps pebbled her flesh. Alexa opened a bottle of lube and spread some over the dildo. The light pink toy glistened in her palm. “I’m holding my favorite dildo. It’s all ready to slide in.”

“Are you standing in front of a mirror, too?”

“Yes. I’m leaning forward, spreading my legs. The tip feels cool. I’m so hot. So wet. I probably don’t even need any lube.”

“I wish I was there. My dick is pounding in my hand while I stroke it.”

“Fast or slow?”

“Slow and easy right now. Work that dildo into your pussy slow and easy, too.”

A sigh left her lips.

“What was that?”

“My dildo…all the way in. Feels so good but I wish it was your cock.” She nibbled her lip while she worked the toy inside her. The eyes staring back at her in the mirror were dark pools. Red stained her cheeks. She’d never played this game before and couldn’t believe how much it aroused her.

Sebi continued their erotic phone conversation. “I can feel my cock sliding deep into your pink slit until my balls rest snugly against your asshole. Baby, do you like your ass fucked? Have you ever?”

Her eyes closed as she envisioned his hard body beneath her, his dick stretching her sphincter. “Yes, I like it. Maybe you can fuck my ass while I use a dildo in my pussy. That would rock.”

“Bring your favorites on Saturday. I’ll make your fantasy come true.” Another low moan left his throat. “Spank your clit.”

Shock waves of pleasure made her walls tense around the toy and more difficult to stroke swiftly. “Makes me so wet. Play with your balls. I want to hear you come. I’m imagining you’re standing behind me. Your hips are slapping against mine as you pump into my wet slit. It hurts, and it feels so good. I’m gripping you so tight with my pussy. You can hardly move. I’m getting close.”

“I’m covered in your juices. You feel fucking amazing. You’re so hot inside. Your little pulses start around my dick. You’re getting ready for a big orgasm. I want you on your back so I can come all over your breasts.”

The reader can clearly see these characters like each other and enjoy pleasuring each other. It’s mutual. If they had no emotional connection, they wouldn’t talk this way. In fact there’s likely to be very little dialog. This is erotic romance.

***

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her motto: Romance with SASS (Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle). Never expect the same thing twice in one of her books. She tackles subjects and conflicts that aren’t typical in romances. Life is complicated. People are, too. Marrying those concepts makes her work fascinating to read. Margie was 2011 GLBT Author of the Year, and her book, Hard as Teak, was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at Loves Romances Café. She is well-known for her BDSM erotic romances as well.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions include music, poetry, walking on moonlit nights, fishing, and making people laugh.

Keep up with Margie:
Margie’s website: Romance with SASS
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Amazon.com: Margie Church: Books, Biography, Blog, Au…

Visit Amazon.com’s Margie Church Page and shop for all Margie Church books.
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Feb 032014
 
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It turns out that I’m kind of a weirdo.

I know, no big surprise that the guy whose latest story series is about a woman who keeps tentacle monsters for sexual purposes considers himself a bit strange. I’m not talking about sexual proclivities here.

No, I’m talking about story structure. I’m a story structure fetishist. It’s gotta be there, or I’m totally unsatisfied. I don’t care how hot the sex is, how lush the descriptions are, how interesting the characters are—if there isn’t a beginning, middle and end, I am just not going to get a literary boner out of a story.

The weird part is, I didn’t really understand this particular paraphilia until I started writing and, therefore, studying the craft of writing. Sure, I had gotten the standard lectures in high school English class about exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement, known as “Freytag’s Pyramid,” but it wasn’t really internalized. I hadn’t learned to see those phases in a story, analyze it like a biology student dissecting a frog, and I certainly hadn’t learned about all the myriad alternatives to (and elaborations on) Freytag’s Pyramid. All I knew, starting out, was that some stories just didn’t do it for me, and that writing endings was really, really hard.

So I started studying.

To be honest, calling it “studying” is something of a misnomer. I wasn’t very diligent, at least at first, and I wasn’t very purposeful. But listening to podcasts about the craft of writing, and reading blogposts, gradually gave me the tools I needed to understand my little peccadillo, both as a consumer and as a producer of stories.

And since then, stories have become much easier to write. Understanding structure means that I know I have to have a solid vision of each of the plot elements before I start writing. Those things can change as I go along, but when I know what’s going to happen at each stage of the story, I write myself into fewer corners, down fewer primrose paths, and up fewer dead ends.

Another upside to this is that when I read or listen to something that clearly lacks these structures, I can be more specific in my criticism. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of erotic works feel this way to me; the structure of most of them boils down to “people have a reason to have sex, then they do it.” Bleah. There’s no tension in a story like that, no energy, no meaning. But I also realize that judging stories by my own personal kink isn’t really fair, so I usually don’t call out stories on it. I just write them the way I think they ought to be written.

For those of you who’d like to play along at home and study up on plot structures, here are some links for you:

MICE

Kishoutenketsu

Five act structure

Hollywood Formula

And once you’re done familiarizing yourself with those, here’s a story idea to fit into them:

A kinky pony-play “farm” gets raided by animal rights activists who don’t (initially) understand what’s going on. The handlers on the farm are expecting a new group of untrained “colts”, so the misunderstandings go both ways.

 

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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Jan 242014
 
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By Elizabeth Coldwell

Many writers will say that the hardest part of writing an erotic story is the ending. Because the aim of the genre is to arouse the reader as well as entertain them, the climax you should be building to is …er, the climax. When the sex ends, so—in the majority of cases—does the story. However, as a writer you may have the urge to round off the action in some more organic way. One of the most common ways to do this, if the characters have just had their first sexual encounter with each other, is to suggest that their climax was only the beginning, and that there’ll be more sex to come, either that night or at some point in the future.

However, another type of rounding off beloved by writers in all genres of fiction is the twist ending. Think of horror stories where a character thought dead literally returns from the grave at the end of the tale, or the many detective novels penned by Agatha Christie and her ilk where the murderer is revealed to be the very last person you expected. Twist endings to short stories have always been popular, but they had a real resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s. First, many of Roald Dahl’s most macabre stories were televised in the series Tales of the Unexpected, then a number of new women’s weekly magazines appeared, particularly Best and Bella in the UK, all of which featured a one-page story with a sting in its tail. The twists in these magazine tales grew ever more bizarre, many of the stories having a narrator who appeared to be a human until the ending revealed they were actually a household pet or even some inanimate piece of furniture.

Naturally, this trend found its way into erotic fiction—in my time as editor of Erotic Stories, I published a short story in which the BDSM action appeared to be described by the slave of a dominant mistress, chained and compelled to watch as a punishment was dished out to someone else. Only at the very end did this slave turn out to be the domina’s pet dog. As a one-off, that idea worked very well, but if every story in that issue of the magazine had had a twist, its impact would certainly have been lessened.

Some twists can ensure the story remains in the memory long after it otherwise might, but they can also risk jolting the reader out of the erotic, sensual mood you’ve worked hard to create. The wrong kind of twist can even leave them feeling slightly cheated. Whole novels have been written building up to a “shock” twist ending where, for example, the narrator turns out to be a different gender than the one the reader had assumed—and while there’s a high level of skill required to pull this gimmick off, that’s ultimately what it can seem like to the reader: a gimmick.

So do you always need a clever or surprising ending to a story? That depends. Some plots almost demand it, particularly if you’re mixing erotica with horror or suspense, but if you’re writing in the true confessions/readers’ letters style, then by definition you’re looking to get from point A to point B in the most straightforward way you can. And if you want to keep your work fresh and original, here are some surprise endings you might want to use vary sparingly:

It was All a Dream
Yes, this old chestnut still pops up in submissions piles everywhere, often with the coda that some element of the dream has found its way into the real world, like a feather that was used on the heroine, and which is lying on her pillow when she wakes. Leave this one to your school essays.

It was All a Setup
You know the score here. A master gives his submissive a spanking for flagrant misbehavior, or a woman walks in to find her boyfriend in bed with their best friend and is shocked at first, then so aroused she has to stay and watch the couple in action. The twist, of course, is that in both cases the situation has been engineered so that the naughty sub and the curious voyeuse get exactly what they wanted all along.

The Stranger was Familiar
A man is on his way to a job interview, when he’s distracted by a sexy woman flashing her panties on public transport and they find time for a quickie. A married woman in a hotel bar takes a risk and chats up the sexy man on the next barstool, ending up in his room for a passionate romp. Guess what? When the protagonist in the first scenario finally makes it to the interview, the woman conducting it is the panty-flasher, and the supposed adulteress in the second is just acting out a fantasy and the man she’s coming on to is her husband.

He was…a Vampire!
This one really needs no more explanation, but if you’re submitting to one of the many anthologies of vampire short stories that are published every year, come up with a more substantial storyline for your readers to sink their teeth into…

 

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Dec 272013
 
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By Nobilis

For the past few months, I’ve been posting techniques for generating ideas. Now it’s time to talk about these ideas from a different angle, because sometimes the problem isn’t a lack of ideas, but an overwhelming number of them, or a really great one that won’t let you focus on anything else (…for example, the other great idea you had earlier), or an idea that starts out strong but threatens to evaporate as soon as you examine it more closely. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to beginning authors, getting a Great Idea can be a productivity-destroying monster—and if you’re going to be a successful author, you need to know how to tame it.

The danger of the Great Idea is insidious. It tempts you to work on it immediately. It distracts you from last week’s Great Idea that isn’t yet finished. It wants all of your attention, now, and won’t let go until you give it what it wants. And the last thing you want to do is kill it. After all, you’re a creator! Ideas are the seeds of awesomeness. Without attention, an idea dies. You forget the details, and bit by bit it fades away unless it’s fed.

So, given that you neither want to let your new Great Idea consume your entire brain just yet, nor do you want to snuff it out, what do you do? The way I tame this beast is to open a zoo. For me, it’s a classy little notebook, one of the expensive ones with the elastic to hold it closed and a ribbon for keeping my place. Other authors have files on their computers, or even a box full of slips of paper or index cards. The form is not as important as the function and the discipline in exercising it.

The discipline is this: When you get an idea, write it down. Plot ideas, setting ideas, character ideas, all of them must be written down with your chosen method. Record all the details you can think of, and then put it away and go back to working on your main project. This way, you have given your Great Idea enough attention to survive until you can come back and decide whether it’s actually worth working on.

Because that’s the other danger of the Great Idea. Sometimes, the idea just isn’t as great as it seemed when we thought it up. Maybe it’s cliché, just another brooding vampire in a world that’s got too many already. Maybe it’s all horns and no teeth, and it doesn’t lead you anywhere interesting. The important thing here is that you can’t tell what kind of idea it is until you’ve had some time away from it.

…Which brings us to the second important function of the idea zoo. With some time apart, you can come to the idea with a fresh perspective, and really have a good look at it. That’s why I don’t read through my idea notebook until I actually need an idea—which can often happen in the middle of writing something else, when I need to spice up a character, or a setting, or introduce a plot twist. The idea zoo is a great place for concentrated inspiration.

And someday, you’ll fill up that idea notebook. Well, okay, not if it’s a file on your computer, but even so the size will eventually become unwieldy. When that happens, here’s what I do: When the book is full, and I’m finished with one project and ready to start another, I get myself another notebook, and lay them open side by side. I go through the full one and look over each idea, first by just reading through the whole book, and then more carefully, considering the ideas one by one. As I pore over each one of my Great Ideas, I consider not only whether or not it belongs in the new notebook—because not all of them will be judged fit for preservation—but also whether it fits in well with other ideas. I’ll cluster them together when they seem like they might be compatible.

If there’s anything better than a story with a Great Idea, it’s a story with two or three Great Ideas. Or more.

 

Here’s your freebie story idea for the month:
A woman decides to get even with her cheating husband—by seducing his mistress away from him.

 

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

 

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Nov 252013
 
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By Nobilis

As I mentioned last month, the theme I’ve decided to pursue on this blog series is ideas, where they come from, and what they’re worth. Ideas go through a process; they are inspired, they are worked, and then the results are either discarded or displayed. In all of this, my friends play a vital role.

I spend a lot of time on social media. Probably too much…maybe. Because chatting with my friends on Twitter and Google Plus is where I get most of my inspiration. My twitterfolk and google circles are full of fun, kinky people that love to flirt and tease and joke. Not a week goes by that a conversation doesn’t spark something in my imagination.

For example, this past week, a conversation got running on “friend-flashing,” that is, briefly exposing boobs or booty to friends rather than lovers; people talked a bit about good flashes they’d gotten, or given, and that sort of thing. And in the middle of that, the phrase flashed itself in my imagination: “Flash Club.”

And there’s the beginning. The seed. It immediately sprouted, giving me a setting, characters, and a situation ripe with fierce passions. I never would have thought of it just sitting at home staring at a blank computer screen. It was like a crystal dropping into a supersaturated solution; it catalyzed a reaction that made amazing things happen.

I was immediately full of energy. I was going to write this thing and write it big. At the first opportunity, I opened a new file and banged out a quick five hundred words. “Yes!” I thought to myself, “This is happening.”

And then ran into a wall.

What the hell happens next? Where am I going with this? The inspiration I had gotten was imperfect. It gave me a situation, but a situation isn’t a story. It’s the most important ingredient for a story, but those ingredients don’t really cook unless you apply some heat. There has to be some energy there, something that makes things happen, and I didn’t have that. It was tremendously frustrating.

This, for me, is what writer’s block looks like; it comes from not knowing where I’m going, not having a plan, not having an ending or even a middle in mind. I needed to find that before I could continue, and it was killing me.

So, I went back to my friends.

This time, though, it wasn’t the big hodgepodge of Twitter and Google Plus. I sent out a few IM’s to my fellow creatives, to see who had time for a little chat. A few frustrating hours later I was able to get on the phone with Lulu. If you had been listening to the conversation, you probably would have laughed; I said that I needed her for inspiration, but I was doing ninety-five percent of the talking. Sometimes, she could barely get a word in edgewise. I explained the idea, where I was with it, what I had written, and what was missing.

There were easy things I could have put into that missing slot. Someone who shouldn’t, falls in love. Someone who shouldn’t, discovers the secret. But those were too easy, too facile. They’d lead to a same-old-same-old story. What else was there? Most importantly, what could happen that was inside the situation? And in that conversation, I found it; the newcomer is the disruption. The newcomer plays their game better than anyone who’s already there.

And I was off.

That’s where things sit at the moment I’m writing this blogpost. The story remains far from fully formed, but I have found my way past that block, with Lulu’s help. I am quite certain that I have everything I need to produce a manuscript with beginning, middle, and end.

But just because I will have an ending doesn’t mean I’ll be done.

At that point, I’ll be recruiting a few more of my friends; beta readers that I trust to tell me just where my story sucks. And it will, because every newly-minted story sucks. But I’ll cover that in another essay; the important point here is that my friends figure strongly in that process as well.

And now for the News from Poughkeepsie, where I toss out an idea that may spark something for you:

Elves, as originally imagined by J.R.R. Tolkien, and imitated in epic fantasy ever since, are noble folk associated with magic and immortality. What happens if that immortality has a price? What happens if immortality is a mantle that prevents aging and disease, but also means the elf cannot procreate? And what if that mantle can be put aside, once, in order to regain fertility, but give up one’s life? What kind of society would that create, and what stories could be told about those people?

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Oct 292013
 
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By Nobilis

Writers can be very protective of their ideas, especially when they’re new. And why not? When we get an idea, a really good idea, we get excited. A really juicy, really original idea makes us feel special, makes us feel smart, makes us feel like writing! And that’s an awesome feeling. And a valuable one.

And writers can end up doing some mighty silly things to protect that idea, like refusing to show it to anyone. How is anyone supposed to evaluate a book if they don’t know what the big idea is? Agents, editors, publishers, beta readers, all of those people need to hear about the idea if they’re going to work with a writer. Writers also tend to get upset if another book (or movie, or TV show, or whatever) gets published that uses that idea, or something close to it.

Here’s the secret that veteran writers quickly learn, but sometimes forget: Ideas really aren’t that special. We get them all the time. Once you’ve figured out how to get the idea engine started, it cranks them out much faster than anyone can write them! What’s valuable about a book is the same ratio of qualities to which Edison attributed genius: 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. It’s the work we put into a story that makes it special, not the idea that inspired it.

One of my favorite writers, Mur Lafferty, had a blog for a while called News from Poughkeepsie. On this blog, she posted story ideas that were cool, but which she simply didn’t have time to develop. She invited writers to use those ideas any way they saw fit, just throwing them out there for anyone to use. After a time, another author, Jared Axelrod, took up the banner and started posting his own ideas as well.

The thing is, though, the lesson of News from Poughkeepsie is learned pretty quickly. “I get it!” the readers say, “Lots of ideas. Lots of great things to write about. But I want my OWN ideas.”

I understand.

In future blog entries, I’ll share some of my tools and techniques for priming the creative pump and getting my ideas flowing. I’ll talk about places where I find inspiration, methods I use for picking worthwhile ideas and leaving others aside, and how to get from an idea to actual written work. After all…that’s where the real value is.

And because the ideas are piling up around here, I’ll hand you one of the juicier ones:

BDSM stories often assume that people come in particular types: dominant or submissive, sadist or masochist, straight or gay or bi, etc. and that the trick for finding true sexual fulfillment is to find the person that fits perfectly with one’s existing sexual makeup. But people aren’t that rigid. Many people are perfectly capable of adapting, learning, growing, changing in response to circumstances. What if a dominant—one who has only ever been attracted to submissives, has only ever wanted to dominate them sexually—finds himself inspired to submission by another dominant? This may sound like a familiar story, but this particular dominant isn’t a switch; he’s not discovering a previously unrecognized desire and finally letting it loose. He’s changing. And that change comes about as a result of the trust and respect he has uniquely for her. He’s still just as much of a dominant as ever with anyone else, but with her, it’s different. Wouldn’t that be pretty damn hot?

—Nobilis

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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Apr 052012
 
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One of the things I get asked as an editor is how do I effectively market and sell my book?  In other words, what’s the best use of my time as an author?  Unfortunately, this isn’t a short answer but it is an easy one.  From an editor’s perspective, we acquire books based on how good a story can be told, how well the writer’s skills are and lastly, how the story can make us (the publisher and author) money.

The easiest tool any author has in their arsenal is the excerpt.  Yup, you saw it.  It’s really that easy.  Once a story is polished and the author has seen their corrected galleys, they should feel free to chose an excerpt that meets the needs of their audience.  This being WriteSEX, and an erotica based audience, we want to see SEX!  Yes, adult content, sex, two (or more) bodies building up the anticipation of a climax we believe is going to happen.

In erotica – sex IS the plot.

In other erotic genres -sex FORWARDS the plot

That being said, we want to pull out a selection of text from our stories that sets the scene.  If the story is erotica, we want to see as much of the buildup to the sex scene as possible without giving away the climax.  Why?  Because looking at one handed readers and getting them off doesn’t equal a sale if you do it in the excerpt.  It’s like clip sites in pornography, you show me the money shot, why do I need to bother with the back story?  Or anything else for that matter?

Take fore example an upcoming release “Treasure’s Gift.”  It’s a FFM menage story for Decadent Publishing coming out soon. The blurb:

Treasure has always had a thing for Mark, her best friend.  When he drops in unannounced, she’s glad until she realizes his workload is keeping him occupied when the only thing on her mind is jumping him.   With the help of a very sexy friend, she uses the one thing designed to make Mark slow down and take notice.  What will he do at the temptation of two beautiful women?

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well here’s the excerpt I used originally:

Mark looked at Treasure, wishing he could just fall asleep in beautiful pools of her eyes. Or swim naked with her. 

His cock hardened uncomfortably in his trousers.  Could Treasure feel his arousal?

Did she know the depths of wickedness he’d love to explore with her?

He fought a yawn from the overbearing heat and length of his flight.  Closing his eyes, he leaned back in the chair and let out a breath.  The hectic schedule his travel required of him would exhaust anyone. 

The fact that his property was in Kingwood, he had to fly into Houston Intercontinental and then drive all the way back to Sugarland where Treasure lived added to his building fatigue, but hell, he’d do anything to see her standing before him, looking at him with a hidden mischievous grin and her hands on her hips.  Nipples would ache for him and jut out proudly while her oh so kissable lips moved.

“I’ve got all sorts of ideas, babe.”

“I’m sure you do,” she nodded.  “Just come to bed when you’re done.”

She walked away, ass swaying from side to side with each step she took.  Hands reached for the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head before she disappeared, leaving him with a view of tanned skin, no bra and the need to slake his own primal needs tonight.

“Damnit!”  Mark knocked back the drink and slammed the glass on the table.  He certainly didn’t look forward to the next few weeks of very long Saturdays despite being so close to achieving his financial goals.  Not if Treasure intended to taunt him with hints at her naked flesh. 

He had to do something about his raging erection.  Maybe a cold shower.  Or maybe a long, hot shower featuring Treasure stepping into the large tub with him, setting her delectably round ass against his cock and coating his dick in her juices would… 

Sadly, Mark showered quickly, ignoring his hard on.  He dressed in pajama bottoms, a tank top that showed off his muscular arms and pale skin.  Bedtime included a nightcap, a large one designed to knock him out so he’d sleep without dreaming of Treasure’s body blanketing his while her pussy milked the life out of him. 

Mark slumped back in his chair, head hanging forward.  He took a sip of bourbon, let the liquid burn his throat before he took another longer swig.  Sitting up, he looked over the now neatly organized stack of papers

“Treasure?”

His lips curled upward. 

The bedroom door opened.  “Mark,” The soft lilting of her voice reignited the spark of arousal. 

Mark set his glass on the desk and waited.  “Yes dear?”

“It’s bedtime.  Come to bed.”

She sounded needy. Another man would have missed the subtlety of want in her voice.  “I have things to do before bed first.” 

“Then I’ll come to you.”  Her voice dripped with unmistakable husky lust. 

Mark arched a brow. 

A moment later, Treasure appeared before Mark wearing a black see through teddy that flowed out at the bottom with lace trimming and barely reached the top of her thighs.  A scrap of lace hid both nipples and obscured his view of her sex.  Dirty blonde hair fell around her shoulders in loose curls, bouncing with each step she took towards him.  Hands started at her shoulders, smoothed down her arms, over full breasts and down her round stomach until stopping at her hips. Treasure stuck one leg forward, took a tentative step closer to Mark and stopped mere inches from him. “Well?”

His jaw dropped.  He blinked several times to make sure he was seeing right before focusing on her expression. 

She frowned.  “You think I’m fat.  I knew it.”

“No!” He stood and took her hands in his.  His stomach tightened from the contact while his cock stirred against his pajamas.  Blood pumped faster down south and his mouth went bone dry.  “No, that’s not it. It’s just…just…wow Treasure.  I’ve dreamed of this for years.”

“What do you intend to do now?”  She tilted her head and her mouth curled into a wicked grin.

We’re left wondering if he’s really going to go forward with it like a man should, or if he’ll play an idiot and turn down his best friend.  I could have used a longer excerpt to show you but again, that’s not creating demand for the reader to want to know more.  Hopefully in the excerpt above I’ve convinced the reader to buy the story.

The excerpt should not only match the desired audience but should be LENGTHY depending on story size.  Treasure’s Gift is only 5k in length, whereas my previous 1NS release from Decadent was 11k, and my excerpt was almost 2k.  The rule of thumb is simple.  You want to create as much want in the audience for your story as possible by keeping them ENGROSSED in your world for as long as possible, then pull the plug, leaving them with only the desire to buy your book.

I’ll cover more next time on Excerpts.

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