Category Archive: write well

Dec 14 2014

3 Ways to Write Better Erotica by Sherri Goodman

Important!

Blog post by guest contributor Sherry Goodman

pencil

Every writer dreams of having their work acknowledged by the world, their name in headlines, thousands (if not millions) of readers searching for their book, and their own work on the lips of every talk show host. That is, of course, unless the piece is being put on blast because it’s unanimously been deemed as some of the worst work of the year…Sadly that’s just what happened to author Ben Okri.

Bad Sex in Erotic Fiction?

According to The Independent, his novel, The Age of Magic, was just given the 2014 Bad Sex in Fiction award, a title chosen annually by the Literary Review.

While it’s certainly not an award that every author covets, what’s particularly interesting about Okri is that he’s actually an award-winning writer—the good kind. In 1991, he was given the Man Booker award for The Famished Road. At just 32, he became the youngest recipient ever to take home the award, though he was later beat out by 28-year-old Eleanor Catton in 2013 for The Luminaries.

So how did a renowned author receive such a, um, special award? Well, it may be hard for some to admit, but just because you’re a talented writer doesn’t mean you’re good at writing about everything. Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.

Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.

You just have to be open to doing what’s necessary to fine-tune them.

Now, just because your erotic writing could use some help doesn’t mean anyone doubts your skills in the sack. I’m sure you’re very talented. I’m sure that thing you do with your leg and the bedpost should be studied by contortionists and that you’re ability to change positions while “never leaving your post” is nothing short of magic. But being able to describe the act on the page, in a way that makes readers feel as though they’re taking part in the act, is a whole different ball game. You could be a tiger in the bedroom, but readers will instantly recognize if you’re typing timidly.

In order to really write the hell out of an erotic story, you’re going to need to find out how to release that tiger from its bashful cage.

How to Write Better Erotica Scenes

There’s really only a few ways to break out of your shell and better your writing for these particular scenes.

  1. Read every erotic novel you can get your hands on. Go through every book and then read through them again. Take note of the equal portions of writing describing what’s going on and the characters’ responses.
  2. Reminisce. Think about the times you’ve had sex, and highlight some of the reasons why an experience was more memorable than others. What did your partner do that made being intimate resonate with you? Was there a certain way your partner touched you, something your partner said, or even just your partner’s enthusiasm in the heat of it all that made that moment unforgettable? Write every bit of it down in explicit detail. Afterwards, read what you wrote. Does your writing really reflect the heat of that night? If not, try to see where your description is lacking. Your goal is to recreate the emotions for your readers to experience. You want them to feel the same attachment to the sex scene that you feel.
  3. Watch an adult movie. Watch the videos and describe what’s happening in order to get comfortable with the wording. Utilize the 5 Ws of journalism and describe how the couple on screen interacts, the sounds they make, what each seems to be feeling—write it all down. Having a visual to utilize for inspiration can dramatically improve your dialogue and scene description skills when writing about similar acts.

Even if you love reading sexy stories and can’t help but grin when thinking about your own particularly hot liaisons, that doesn’t always mean you can translate a steamy sex scene onto the page. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and give some of these exercises a go. Think of it this way: even if your erotic writing needs improvement and potentially painstaking research, at least you know putting in the work will be fun!

I’d like to hear from you in the comments section. How do you tackle writing erotic scenes?

 


 Want to write a guest post for the blog? Contact Leslie Lee Sanders with your idea.

[Image credit: Alan Cleaver]

Apr 18 2013

My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers

top 5Here are links to the top 5 most helpful blog posts on this site from 2012 or earlier. This list is especially targeted to writers, aspiring or established. Here’s your chance to view some of my earlier but most influential posts, chosen by me. Hope you find these posts helpful and inspiring.

 

  1. Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It – All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing. Here’s how.
  2. Why Writing Well Consistently is Crucial for an Author – Part of an author’s job is to market themselves and their work. We keep up with our online social networks, updating Facebook and Twitter and engaging with other authors, editors, agents and readers. We blog, we’re interviewed and participate in discussions on online forums and blogs. Whether we’re writing books or writing Facebook updates, our number one job as a writer is to write and write well.
  3. Read More to Write Better – Sure we read fiction to escape reality or to be entertained. We read nonfiction to learn or to be inspired. We read for various reasons. However, did you know to be a better writer you have to read? Not just read, but read analytically.
  4. Reasons Writing What You Love Works – The titles I like most are the ones with subjects I enjoy writing about. The stories with an underlying theme or issue that’s close to my heart. And I found I get thoughtful, more positive responses from readers when I write what I love. Below are some reasons why writing what you love can create better, more fulfilling writing.
  5. The Complicated Story Ending – The ending of your story should be just as engaging as the beginning hook. It should be emotionally satisfying, and tie up most if not all loose ends. If the book is part of a series, it still needs to stand on its own, and answer all major story questions.

 

Go ahead and click on the titles that you are most interested in. Leave a comment too (this blog uses CommentLuv so your most recent blog post will be displayed in the comments section when you leave a comment). So, please, share your thoughts.

 

 

Mar 15 2013

Proofreading Tips: Kindle and Microsoft Word’s Text-to-Speech

proofreading

While proofreading one of my blog posts for correct spelling and grammar on my Kindle, I’ve found a helpful little tool. Kindle’s text-to-speech may be under used for the reading of e-books, however, I find the feature great at finding misspelled words and misplaced punctuation.

How exactly does it help?

When you upload your file to your Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD and turn on the text-to-speech feature, by tapping the screen once and pressing the “play” button the female voice will start reading from the top of the current page. I find that following along with the voice as she reads helps find the errors easier than reading it myself. Why is this? Because you’ve written the words so you already know what it is supposed to say. So when you reread the same scene, your eyes may sometimes scan over the misspelled word and your brain computes it as the word you intended instead.

For example, I only found that I had misspelled the word “through” several times in a manuscript after reading along with the text-to-speech feature because it was only when she said it aloud did I realize I had been spelling “though” and mistakenly reading it as “through” even when reading it aloud myself (which is a well-known tip in proofreading).

Reasons why it could improve your proofreading experience

Like I mentioned above, there are many tips out there already, especially the “read your text out loud” tip. It’s a great tip, but text-to-speech takes it a step further and has someone else read it to you without literally having someone else read it to you. Here’s other ways it can improve your experience:

  • She pronounces the words exactly how it’s written, so if it’s misspelled or not as emphasized as you’d like it to be you can highlight the word or text to fix later.
  • She uses inflections at the end of sentences ending with a question mark, pauses appropriately at commas, semicolons and periods, making it easier to measure your sentence flow.
  • There’s slight variations with quotes that gives her a little personality and helps with the story flow. (Now, I argue about this “fact” with my hubby because he claims not to hear a difference while I like to think he just doesn’t notice, which would be a good thing. However, when she reads multiple back-to-back quotes without tags, we both seem to keep up with which character is talking and when. It may vary for you.)
  • She uses a slight breathy tone when reading to make it sound like a human reading and not a robot or computer-generated … but not always. This also helps with the flow and clarity.
  • Whenever you find a mistake, simply hold your finger over the word and highlight or make a note so you can return to that specific spot later and fix your error.

Some possible downsides

  • Kindle Fire HD only has one text-to-speech personality. It features a U.S. English speaking female voice only.
  • You can choose how fast or slow you want her to read, standard is at 1x but ranges from 0.7x to 4x. This could be a positive but I find it difficult to hear her pronunciation of words clearly or the inflections with punctuation if it’s set at anything beyond 1.5x, and too slow for me at 0.7x. At 0.7x her breaths seem to drag and she sounds bored, as if she’s on the brink of yawning. Not good.
  • Making a note of your error stops the reading. When pressing play, reading begins from the beginning of the page no matter where you left off.

Uploading files to your Kindle

You can email your Kindle Word and PDF files, here’s how:

  1. Find out your Kindle email address by logging into your Amazon account.
  2. Scroll down to “Digital Content” under Digital Management and click “Manage your Kindle.” It may prompt you to sign in again.
  3. On the left under Your Kindle Account click “Manage Your Devices” and it will tell you to Send to Kindle Email Address and provide you with that email. Each Kindle you own will have a different email address.
  4. Simply attach your file(s) to an email and send it to that address. Your file should appear on your Kindle within minutes if not instantly.

Activating Text-to-Speech

Now that you opened your file on your Kindle here’s how to activate the text-to-speech feature:

  1. Tap the screen and press “Aa Settings.”
  2. Tap “On” located next to Text-to-Speech.
  3. A play button will be present at the bottom of the screen on the reading progress bar when the text-to-speech feature has been activated. Press play.
  4. You can change the speed on this progress bar by pressing the 1x button and toggling the different speeds. The 1x button is located at the bottom right while the progress bar is displayed.

Microsoft Word 2013 Text-to-Speech

I think it’s best to use Kindle’s Text-to-speech feature for novel-length manuscripts or lengthy documents. For proofreading shorter works like blog posts or short stories, for instance, I’d use Word’s text-to-speech feature. Here’s how for Microsoft Word 2013:

  1. Open a blank document
  2. Under the File tab go to Options
  3. Click on the Quick Access toolbar and choose “Popular Commands”
  4. Find “Speak” and add it to your customized toolbar
  5. Save. And find it at the top of your toolbar as a quote bubble with the play button
  6. Highlight the text you want it to read and press the quote bubble

Other info you should know:

  • Kindle Paperwhite does not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Earlier Kindle versions have options to toggle between a female and male voice
  • Some e-books and some files like PDF files do not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Microsoft Word’s feature is a male voice and sounds more computer generated compared to Kindle’s feature
  • For more tips on reading on Kindle fire HD and text-to-speech visit Amazon.com help center

 

I hope you find text-to-speech a helpful feature as I do. Have you used this feature to proofread your works? How was your experience? Leave a comment below and please subscribe to my blog for more tips on proofreading and more.

Apr 18 2012

Why Writing Well Consistently is Crucial for an Author

Part of an author’s job is to market themselves and their work. We keep up with our online social networks, updating Facebook and Twitter and engaging with other authors, editors, agents and readers. We blog, we’re interviewed and participate in discussions on online forums and blogs. Whether we’re writing books or writing Facebook updates, our number one job as a writer is to write and write well.

 

What makes good writing?

  • Proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, etc.
  • Ability to convey your message effectively

Why is it important to write well all the time?

Your writing is an asset. It’s what you are selling. It’s part of your brand. You’re a writer. You need to prove your skill. You’re expected to know how to write and write well.
Imagine a potential reader coming across an article you wrote online … and it’s littered with typos, emoticons and abbreviations one would use when text messaging. It may be difficult to see what type of writing you’re selling in your books.
It’s important to remember, while online everyone’s watching from potential readers to editors, agents and publishers. Show the world that you understand grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. Flaunt your writing skills everywhere you leave your writing, and be consistent.

 

When to stick with proper writing:

  • Writing and/or responding to emails
  • Writing, responding and/or commenting on blog posts
  • Article writing
  • Writing contests
  • Manuscript queries, partials and submissions
  • Book reviews or public reviews of any kind
  • Updating social network sites
  • Online interviews

 

 

When you can let it slide:

  • Twitter updates (due to the 140 character limit)
  • Text or instant messaging

 

Tips to make sure your writing is superb:

  • Always use spell check
  • Read it back to yourself out loud
  • Use Kindle or Microsoft Word’s text-to-speech feature
  • Have someone else look over it
  • Put it away for a couple days, look over it again, and then post publically
  • After publishing it (blog or online article) and you find a typo or mistake, correct it immediately

 

It helps to get into the habit of writing well if you do it regularly. Writing is your talent, your brand and your value. Don’t abuse it by not demonstrating your skill. Do you have any tips you’d like to add?