Tommyhawk's Guide to Writing Erotica


By Tommyhawk1
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HOW TO WRITE GOOD GAY EROTICA
(WHILE STILL ENJOYING THE PROCESS IMMENSELY)


Warning: This is NOT a how-to course in writing, just how to adapt those principles to writing erotica. While I will try to avoid technical terms, on the whole, this webpage presumes you already have some knowledge of the techniques of proper writing. It definitely presumes you know rules of grammar and spelling!

INTRODUCTION


Erotica of any sort is a very specialized art form, in fact, craft might be a better word for it. You are not creating art so much as supplying a need. It's like artwork made to order, not meant for a museum or the highbrows, but as something a person plans to hang over their couch. As with "couch art", this restricts your creativity in several respects.

Just as the primary purpose of a couch artwork is to be the proper size, configuration and subject matter, so your primary purpose in the writing of erotica is to give your readers fantasies sufficient to permit them to masturbate to orgasm. Do not flinch at that purpose, dear student, embrace it and aim for it. If your story doesn't cause YOU to need to masturbate, you're probably wasting your time. Throw away the idea and start over. More on this later.

THE BIG PICTURE


THEME--First rule of writing erotica is to ALWAYS give your reader a happy sex ending. Everyone in your story gets off, everyone is smiling and everyone wants to do it again as soon as they can, whatever it was. So your theme is always going to be pretty much the same-- sex makes people happy, they enjoy it, they benefit from it in all its forms.

PLOT--Plot, too, is pretty much fixed. Your hero (I dislike the word protagonist intensely, but let's not get into why) is suffering from a lack of sex or unfulfilled desire in some manner, as in he's hot for a particular stud, your hero finds sex/gets his man and is happy. While we can ring a hundred thousand variations on this, it is this single theme and single plot which we should stick to.

VOICE is also heavily limited in my opinion. You need to stick to either first-person ("I"), or to third person solitary omniscient ("John/he"). [Note: Of the two, I recommend first-person, though if you choose third person, be careful in your use of pronouns. You'll find yourself constantly repeating the character's name to clarify who is fucking who!] A single viewpoint leaves no doubt in the reader's mind who to identify with, and they desperately need that. When the hero reaches climax, so will your reader. So leave no doubt about who he should be watching for!

CHARACTERIZATION--With the somewhat-possible-exception of your hero, you are also, obviously, limited to writing about handsome men with high sex drives and the morals of an alley cat. But more on this later.

Feeling stifled already? Maybe, but let me emphasize that in the rest of your story, you DO have carte-blanche and can write whatever you wish. Look at my own works, they vary immensely in this regard, from science fiction to present-day mundane to historical works, and the action varies from rough, raw sex to tender love affairs. As long as these are kept subjugated to the prime purpose (that of getting your reader to successfully masturbate to your story), you are free to range about.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS--GENERAL


Once we have accepted all these limitations, now it is time to put the creative process in gear.

First, you need a UNIVERSE. This is not a science-fiction term, but rather I am referring to the physical location of the sex and the situation surrounding it. For example--an Army barracks during basic training. This is the universe in which your character will operate. This is also your biggest opportunity for creativity. It was a hard, rainy day and the guys got so soaked that they got back to their barracks and just all stripped out of those muddy clothes and lay down on their bunks naked. Too tired to sleep, they look at one another and.... See what I mean?

Second you need the CHARACTERS with the HERO. You might create the hero first, but I strongly recommend against this for a beginner. It is easier to create a proper hero once you know what the universe is going to do to him. If you plan to have this Army barracks full of studs gang-bang one of their members (your hero most likely), then his character is more easily resolved than if you stuck your character fully developed into the barracks and then said, "Now what is he going to do?" A truly fully-developed hero may resist what you plan for him! "Hey, you guys aren't going to fuck my butt! Come on, put them up and we'll fight!"

Third, you need to decide the ACTION. In the case of erotica, we are talking about sex, of course. Is our hero going to be the aggressor or the passive? Oddly enough, you're going to find it easier to write about a passive hero. This lets you get creative with the descriptions of the men who are his sex partner(s) and it may not be necessary to physically describe your hero at all, leaving him to your reader to flesh out (with themselves, of course).

I also recommend against using more than two sexual partners for your hero at any one time. If you are going to set up an orgy sequence, concentrate on the one viewpoint and his partner(s) and let the others go with a brief description. Otherwise, you are left with something like, "Sam sucked on Stanley while Steve fucked Cedric's butt and Fred played with Will's balls. Meanwhile Ted and Alex climbed on the trap eze and...." You get the idea. Too many characters to comprehend. My rule of thumb--the penis has only one eye. Don't confuse the poor thing!

THE CREATIVE PROCESS--PARTICULARS


A good erotic story is visited time and again by the eager reader, who knows the action to take place, but is counting on it working again for him. There are several ways to put your story into this beloved arena.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION--You can't describe the bodies of your hero's sexual partners well enough (though describing the hero himself isn't that necessary and could be distracting if carried to extremes). But for the lovers, every metaphor and image you can lay your pen on is needed. I flinch at a description tossed off in three words, and "a swimmer's build" is the worst offender of the group even if you're writing about swimmers! My suggestion is: Don't just give your hero a handsome lover, give him a UNIQUELY HANDSOME lover if you can. Cast your eyes on the crowds around your daily life, and try to find some cute man and emblazon his unique physical description on your own mind's eye. Then describe him (with names changed to protect the innocent) in all the detail you can bring out. Try to give AT LEAST three full sentences of the physical description of each of the lovers of your hero. Even three paragraphs is NOT overdoing it (though I suggest doing the paragraphs in separate locations if you do. A little description, a little action, a little more description!)

SENSORY DETAIL--Another place where the novice consistently fails is to put the reader deeply enough into the action. Try to touch upon ALL the senses. When a big, hunky man has you in his grip and is about to fuck your ass, you don't just have the view of his face filling your entire sight as his eyes look into yours, there's also the pressure and location of his weight distributed on your body, the way in which his massive thighs are pushing your legs apart as he wriggles into position; there's the sweat that drips from his eager brow onto your lips, his breath hissing and stroking your left shoulder, the rank musk of his armpits as he reaches around you and the heat of his body as he moves against you, and you feel the hot meat pressing against your tender nether regions to...uh, pardon me, you get the idea.

VOCABULARY--You can't avoid it, you're going to need a good, long list of terms for each of the major sex organs and sexual activities. You can't get by with just "penis" and "cock", you also need "prong", "schlong", "pud", "dick", "manmeat", "rod", "pole", "shaft" and so on. You need "sperm", "come", "jism", "jizz", "load", "wad", "ejaculate", "seed" and its ilk. Your characters have to "fuck", "thrust", "pump", "pound", "hump" and so on and so on. [A quick side-note: If you plan to write a lot of stories of any sort, you also need a good "Baby Names" book to supply names for your characters. You can get one at the check-out stand of any supermarket. Best ninety-nine cents I ever spent! As for last names, it's obvious, a big city's telephone directory!] But go easy on the really exotic terms for sexual acts and organs, they can become distracting as well. Build a vocabulary, sit down and write them down if you have to and keep an eye out for new ones you can use. Then try to use them each in the proper location. That's where you're actually going to be using your old English training. While the action is still tentative or when it is happening to someone other than your hero, you should use the less emotionally charged words. "Bill's cock pumped into my ass while Sam stood nearby, fondling his penis and as I watched, he shot his sperm all over Bill. Bill's eyes grew wide as he felt the hot seed splatter against his body and he groaned and I felt his jism spray into my tender butt." See what I mean? The closer to the hero, the more visceral the terminology should be. Which brings me to the really good stuff....

NARRATION, ILLUSTRATION, ART
(OR WHEN TO TELL, WHEN TO SHOW
AND WHEN TO HIDE IT AWAY)


I usually summarize this by saying that a writer should never tell me when he can show me, and never show me when he can let me discover it for myself. This is not strictly true, you have to remember your length and dramatic requirements as well.

When should you use narration, when should you use an illustrative scene or image, and when do you cover things with images and metaphors to the point the reader must discover for himself what is going on? Here are the rules to follow: [Note: I'm not claiming to stick to this myself without fail, mind you, but I have noticed that my stories which do stick to these rules are stronger, and weaker when they vary from it.]

Narration--Use narration for two purposes only; first, when presenting facts. Example: "The house was white with a green roof." This requires no further explanation. Second, use narration to convey secondary or background information quickly for dramatic purposes. Example: "The war lasted for three years and the impact on the civilian population was horrible. Citizens had been reduced to catching and eating the rats in the street, yet Lord Lucid was hosting a banquet tonight in open defiance of the starvation in the streets before his mansion." Like that. Keep the length of narration to the bare minimum possible, but never letting it fall into objectivity. Keep the images bright and visceral.

Illustration--Use illustration for action sequences and to maximize a story's impact on the reader by making them sense the story in a very physical way. I find this particularly useful in forcing a reader to the viewpoint I want to give him, sometimes by forcing "tunnel vision" on my reader by limiting the viewpoint sharply. Example: "Steve turned to the right just in time to see the second bruiser aim a fist at him. Steve got only a glimpse of the knuckles and first joints of the fingers, with the bulb of thumb riding alongside and just below the index finger. Then the fist impacted against his nose and Steve felt the sharp agony of his nose breaking, and the warmth of his blood spewing out of his nostrils onto his upper lip, saw the bright red beads flying through the air, before his eyes teared up and the world become a blur, a whirling blur as he fell backwards, only dimly feeling the heavy thud as he struck the floor, one ear catching a spitoon and being sliced open with a knife-like scream of pain, which thankfully saved him from the oblivion that threatened to cover him in blackness. He rolled just in time to avoid the heavy boot aimed at him and made it to the haven beneath a big table, paused to heave a quick breath."

Notice in the above how I touched upon the various senses, not just sight, and limited the view to that of Steve's own eyes in a moment-by-moment method. This forces the reader to join Steve in his mind and feel what he feels.

Art--Finally, we come to "Art". Not a good label, but I can't think of a better word to describe the way you write so that a reader discovers something not spelled out specifically in the writing. This should be used for emotions and emotional states. Never just say, "Steven had fallen in love with George". Let us discover the love through his actions, and through the images he sees and how he follows George. "Steve watched as George smiled, and saw George's hand move towards him like a timid kitten, to grasp his hand and embrace it. Steve felt a warm thrill move up his arm from that hand, from that touch, like an electric shock. Dazed, he looked into George's eyes, and his soul became lost in those orbs of blue fire. His mouth opened of its own accord and he heard himself say, as if from a distance, "So what'll it be tonight...your place or mine?"

Notice that I never used the word "love" once, nor even affiliated words like "passion" or "desire." But you got the message anyway!

For erotic fiction (no, I didn't forget!), narration should be used to fill in the background, how our hero got to his current situation, and to describe the surroundings and (with similes and metaphors aplenty to give it impact) the lovers. Illustration (with dialogue) should be used for the sections leading up to the sex, and for the sex. Art should be placed astutely to provide depth to the characters and situation, in order to keep this from being a mere fuckfest.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS--FINE-TUNING FOR MAJOR IMPACT


Now we'll discuss how to maximize the erotic impact of your stories.

First, you should take into account the elements of the attractive lover. In this respect, you should never present anything but desirable men for your reader's viewing pleasure. While it is true that the number of cute hunks in this world are vastly outnumbered by the ordinary men (and a fair percentage of trolls!), none but gorgeous men should meet your reader's eye except in the briefest passing as tertiary or non-sexual characters.

You may decry this as unrealistic, and I have to agree, but we are not talking about real life, this is fantasy. Which brings me to the other end of the spectrum--how to know when to stretch the bounds of fantasy and when to stay well within the realm of the possible.

It is POSSIBLE (but unlikely) that all the men in that Army barracks are sexually desirable; however it is NOT POSSIBLE (bordering on the ridiculous) that all of these men, who have known each other for a matter of days or weeks, have turned their barracks into an orgy room! For the writer to claim that they have and are having all-night orgies spoils the fun of an otherwise really nice and believable scenario. I mention this because it is another common fault of the beginning writer; overdoing his scenario. Having chosen to tell an erotic story about men in a barracks, he then fills his story with freely consenting and uninhibited men, and then wonders why his story does not ring as true as one which only has two men finding each other in this situation and enjoying each other. It is because he overstretched the situation.

When CAN you stretch and when must you obey the rules of regular life in writing erotic fantasy? It is really quite simple.

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Having accepted this additional stricture on our creative processes, let's get into the parts which you can stretch, and how.

Physical appearances of your characters are perhaps the most important item in which to give free reign to the hard-to-believe. The men in your story must fit the typical social standard of a handsome hunk.

But I LIKE chubby men! you may groan. I don't want to write about slim-waisted, muscle-bound doofuses with the IQ of a turnip! Fine, if you don't mind restricting your audience to those who share your interest! Write it, carefully labeling it as such, and hope you can find a kindred spirit when it comes time to sell or publish your story. I'm writing about how to appeal to the vast majority of men, who DO love these big oafs.

So, you must give the reader a good-looking man. That isn't so tough, there are many different ways for a man to be attractive. If you want to be a bit original here, why not keep an eye out for a man who's attractive in an unexpected way and use his physical description freely in your story. I'm still looking for the perfect place to stick a description of a Latino guy I saw on the bus. He was incredibly handsome, but his dark heavy eyebrows and inset eyes gave him a scowling look. He would have looked angry but for those eyes themselves, big, wide, beautiful eyes full of gentleness, they saved him from an angry appearance. Haven't used it yet, but I will, I will.

It also goes without saying that all your men are going to be exceptionally well-endowed! A look through any series of erotic stories will convince you that the average man in an erotic story must have trouble dragging that thing around all the time. As a writer, consider seven inches in length to be your minimum and go up to about ten to twelve. For those of you in the rest of the world with your measuring system which has the un-American flaw of actually making SENSE, that's 18cm to 25-30cm in length.

The other area of exaggeration in your stories should be in your characters' sexual prowess and power of recovery. They also should never suffer the least from such horrible problems as premature ejaculation, impotence or difficulty achieving orgasm. God forbid!

As I said, these two areas are enough of a stretch for the imagination--that your hero would even encounter such a man or men with such talents, so why force them to greater lengths? Not that humor doesn't have its place in erotica! Well written, your readers laugh with you, not at you. The Roustabout Way contains a good example of how to handle the ludicrous aspects of the erotic story.

You may incorporate an erotic story into the well-known genres such as Westerns, spy stories, science fiction, fantasy, and even horror. Just remember to obey the rules of those genres in addition to the ones I have outlined here. Keep the history of your Westerns correct, and obey the laws of physics in your sci-fi.
THE SECRETS OF GREAT EROTICA REVEALED

SECRET #1--WHERE TO GET IDEAS


With all the restrictions I have placed on your imagination in these paragraphs, you may rightfully wail that where in the hell I expect you to GET ideas for acceptable stories. Well, most writers tell you that you can get ideas anywhere and then leave you hanging, but not me! No, I'm going to tell you exactly how to keep brim-full of erotic story ideas. It's simply a matter of learning to think like a sexual predator. You see a cute guy some place, stop mentally and figure out how to get him. And if you can't, then who could?

Let's take an example I encountered just today (9/10/98)--two sexy young men were skateboarding near where I work. What would have to happen for me to get one or both of these studs in my bed? No chance in hell! Well, if I can't have them, then who could?

Each other, that's an easy one. But I was thinking more of a three-way in this case. Who could come along and obtain their willing or not-so-willing bodies? This required me to think about them and extrapolate their lives--mentally following them like a sexual predator. Who's most likely to land these rad dudes and have his way with, or be had by, their lithe young bodies? (pant, pant, pant!) No, I've never actually followed such a guy, but at times, like on the bus, I WILL strike up a conversation with them to get a feel for their personality, or I'll listen carefully to their conversation, eavesdropping for color's sake.

Let's see--they could run afoul of the law or an irate landowner, the way they scrap e the concrete bare of its paint. Or they could encounter a tourist or someone who could flatter them in their art. How about a third guy, just learning how to use a skateboard? The answer to this story (and I'll write it soon) came to me on the bus-ride home the same day, an in-line skater in another location doing all the skateboard-type tricks. They could have a contest of sorts, or a challenge.

We now have our universe, the two guys on their skateboards and our as-yet-uncreated personality of our hero. What sort of guy does he need to be?

Well, I said he would need to be the passive. So if he's going to challenge a skateboarder to a contest of skill, he's got to be the loser, doesn't he? Hmmm.... Good so far, but it needs something more. Which brings me to...

SECRET #2--HOW TO MAKE THE GOOD IDEA GREAT


Now we come to my second great secret--give the reader a little something extra. That's pretty hard to define, but I'll try. Take as an example, my story Freefall. The universe is of a space shuttle trip in the near future. I have my two hunky astronauts get it on in free fall. Good sex story idea. But the capper is that I make one of them an Englishman with all the English-isms I could dredge up from reading and from watching PBS series. That's the extra, though doing it in free-fall is a pretty good extra all by itself!

Usually, giving the something extra involves research. Either base the extra on something you know, or get the Worldwide Web to work for you. In doing my "The Last Defenders" series' first chapter, I had to spend six hours just browsing for information on such widely diverse (deliberately diverse) topics as Middle Ages Europe, Imperial China and the last days of the Roman Empire, as well as my own knowledge of the magical principle of "mana", which I have revamped into my own unique creation for this story. But the story MUST have this extra, and it's hard for me to define, I repeat. Take heart in that you only need to avoid egregious flaws, not be an expert on all subjects.

You may say that since this is just an erotic story, you shouldn't do all that work. First, it's good practice for your more serious efforts. Second, I disagree, in that when I spot such a flaw in my own reading, it distracts and annoys me. Third, a person tends to read stories aimed at their own particular lives. For example, I work for an attorney, so I tend to reach quicker for stories with/about attorneys. And when I find the writer doesn't know diddley on the subject, it bothers me. For the same reason, I have problems with the sci-fi story with poor science in it.

But to get back to the "extras" I was talking about. Take The Roustabout Way, one of my recent writings. The universe was my seeing a back-lot carnival being set up, with the living- quarters tents. Good situation. From there I had to think of a hero (a young man visiting his father who works for one) and the sex (with the carnival owner and resident hunk). But that wasn't enough, it also needed the extra. The extra in "Roustabout Way" is that the young man is fucked by the owner in full sight of his uncomprehending father. That was enough to give me the evil giggles, which I think is the hallmark of "I got all I need to do this story now."

I'm not ready to write the skateboarders-skater story yet. I still need that extra. When I find it, I'll write it. Until then, it goes into my "idea" page. I keep a page on my word processor called "Ideas" and it is just a list of concepts like this one which hasn't yet come to fruition. In addition, when I have an approach but not quite all the scene, I'll do the first few paragraphs, up to a page or so, of the story. Setting up without initiating the action. Sometimes that will give me the extra all by itself for the writer's mind does become trained to give you those wonderful things all by itself, from completely out of the blue. Patience, Grasshopper, it will come to you too.

SECRET #3--HOW TO SET UP THE SEX SCENARIO


This one is pretty obvious, but I run into so many bad stories in my own browsing that I wonder just how many people know it. You have to give your reader a good universe in which to base his fantasy.

I am personally TOTALLY bored with the bath-house, locker-room, public-toilet or public-shower stories. They're obvious, overdone, and usually not done well at all. I concede it's a good place to get guys naked and somewhat more vulnerable and willing in their actions (a naked guy is a vulnerable guy by definition) but all by itself, it doesn't make a good story. You HAVE to give it more. I saw one good idea badly done in a porno video, the guy who lost the baseball game for his team encountering an irate teammate. Haven't done a story on it yet, but it has the potential you need for that situation. But find the extra BEFORE you write it!

To get a sexual situation started, you need to find (a) a ready source of hunky men and preferably (b) a place in which men are more open and accepting in their attitudes. This doesn't require that they be naked. Usually finding one will give you the other.

Men are typically isolated from women (which makes us more emotionally open and receptive to such things, for the record, ladies!) in the following situations: (a) the armed services, (b) work environments, especially physically arduous work environments such as logging or oil fields, and (c) sports events, including such things as fishing trips and individual sports like tennis. All three of these three main categories bear a hundred variations for the erotic writer to exploit.

A way to identify the lesser-known of these three environments is to look for the male-only uniforms involved. By this I don't just mean the military or sports uniforms (though they are wonderful, aren't they? Drool!), I mean the unique dress men use in the situations such as construction or office work, sporting events, and the ilk.

There are more situations than fall in those three categories, there are also a hundred individual situations where the man becomes isolated from women (emotionally or physically) and therefore more vulnerable and/or willing to engage in gay sex. It's kind of hard for me to come up with more specific examples, because if I do, I usually have already done a story on it! They can range from kidnaping or other forced sex, to unusual situations where your hero sort of says, "What the heck!" and goes for it. About to die in the morning? Why not suck cock the night before? That sort of thing.

SECRET #4--HOW TO GET THE CHARACTERS HUMPING


This one also isn't so much a secret as a case of advising you how to avoid bad writing. You have your universe and your characters. You have to get the characters from the initial set- up to the point of sexual contact. Many a bad writer engages in what I call the "whoop of joy" situation. He writes a good set-up, sometimes a wonderful set-up, then he has the characters engage in inanities for what may be pages. Then, apparently he's tired of writing and gives up, and one of his character sort of grabs the other and they get started in a whoop of joy. I'm thinking of a particular story of two men trapped in an elevator (great situation of that fourth kind I mentioned) for an entire night. They COULD have engaged in increasingly intimate behavior and worked up to the sex; instead, the writer had one grab the other's crotch and say, "I want to suck it!" to which the other responds, "All right!" (see what I mean about the whoop?)

I want to take these writers and yell at them, "Aw, come on! You can do better than that! Can't you?" This takes, I admit, a willingness to pour forth your inner self into your story. You have to be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to evoke these emotions in your characters, at least second-hand emotionally vulnerable.

Take your characters through the process step-by-step. It adds paragraphs to your story, maybe even pages. Let it! As long as your story moves along reasonably well, the reader will accept this, even love it and use it for the preparatory period while he strokes his pud. Take The Roustabout Way again as an example. I had the hero first shake hands with his to-be-lover Rutherford, and forget to let go. That's a good start. Then I had him watching as Rutherford stripped to take a shower. Then I had Rutherford touching him first for a massage (but also notice that I made it quickly clear that Rutherford had ulterior motives in volunteering to do the massage, and that I set up the need for the massage ahead of time--no quick out-of-the-blue on this point). All of this, about three pages or more, took place before Rutherford finally stuffed our hero's butt while Dad looked on from a distance and waved happily. Good stuff; I wish I could do that more often! Which brings me to my next secret.

SECRET #5--WHAT TO DO WITH THE IDEA GOING WRONG


Sometimes, a story just won't come off the way you planned it. It's a curse you will face in your writing in any genre. A story meant to be humorous comes off as stupid, a story meant to be adventurous comes off as ludicrous. But when a story which is meant to erotic fails, it fails to be erotic! You either get a stiffie from the reading or you don't, there's no middle ground.

The solution is no fun at all; you have to learn to have distance from your writing efforts, even when writing erotica. As Larry Niven said in one of his books when talking about writing. "First you have to learn how to throw out the bad stuff. Then you have to learn how to throw out the good stuff." Very cogent advice, take it and memorize it.

If an idea detracts from your primary story purpose (which in erotica you must remember, is to make your reader shoot his wad, hopefully not all over the computer screen) then it has to go! Sometimes that means the entire story has to be shelved. Hold it and try for that "extra" I mentioned, which is probably all it needs.

But don't shove it in the trash or press the "Delete" key! You'd be surprised what a clean break away from a story idea can let you do to it later. I sold at 30 an article idea I had when I was 16. Vastly changed, incredibly improved, the final result bore little resemblance to its birth and people remember that article years after having read it.

I recommend a "Treasure" file folder on your word processor for the scenes and stories you have to cut like that. For the record, my own Treasure folder currently contains (pause while I look) twenty-seven stories or pieces of stories which I have had to cut or put on the spike. I will salvage all or part of them one day, I hope. Until then, they stay there, safe and sound against the day when I can finally breathe life into them or gut them to feed their healthier brothers!

SECRET #6--HOOKING YOUR READER ON THE STORY


You need to start your action in an erotic story as quickly as you can without making it a pure-sex scene. So you are forced into narration by this, but avoid beginning your story with too much narration. Try to use instead an exemplar scene which will let you feed your reader the background without too much lecturing. The Roustabout Way does this, but perhaps not enough. I could have put in a longer conversation of the hero with his mother to good effect, but that would have also added a good deal of length to a story which was already getting a slow start. I wrote it, and then cut it out and put in straight narration. It's a judgment call and needs a sense of balance.

This is a particularly hard problem in a genre story like sci-fi, because you're combining the needs of two genres. Take sci-fi. You can't just introduce and explain your characters, you have to introduce/explain your entire universe, while also getting the sex moving. This can be tricky, and always requires extra space in your story.

For adept handling of this problem, I can't think of a better story to study than Larry Niven's collection of short stories called "Flatlander." In this book, Larry Niven is writing combination sci-fi and detective fiction, so he is combating the double-problem you will face with your sci- fi/erotic story. He doesn't start with a lecture, he picks a scene and then goes back here and there with an "oh, by the way" paragraph or two. That's the very thing you need to be doing. I have one attempt at a sci-fi/detective/erotic story in my treasure box and it has real potential. I hope to do that story one day, but it would require more patience than the average reader probably has.

SECRET #7--BEWARE, IT'S MY FAVORITE SEXUAL POSITION


Another place where a writer has to be careful is, oddly enough, when writing about his/her favorite sexual activity. In doing so, the writer's own libido interferes. You have to remember that the reader can't see what's going on in your own mind; you have to transcribe enough of it onto the page to let him share it with you. I have no good answer for this because I suffer the same problem. Get ready to blush, because I'm about to get very personal in an effort to help you out.

My favorite sexual activity with another man is mutual masturbation. To be specific, giving each other hand-jobs. I like it for the simple and adequate reason that it is safe, non- intrusive, it lets you avoid the entire dominance/submission question, making sex something done between two good friends, and also permits you to engage in such wonderful things as kissing and talking and stroking the other person's body with your free hand. Yet I find when I try to write this sort of scene myself, I tend to short-change the description heavily. I think I have communicated it well enough, yet on looking back on old stories with that sort of sex, I find that I usually have put in only a couple of sentences. Heavens! I confess that I do better on my anal stories, my least favorite, than I do with my mutual masturbation scenes!

The converse of this is the writer who goes overboard communicating his fetish. Fine, if it has been pre-labeled as the fetish and I am expecting it. I got a real kick out of a spanking story where Father Cleaver spanks Wally and the Beaver. No other sex involved, other than the boys watching secretly each other getting spanked and masturbating. But I read that story expecting it. It's a problem when the reader does not know that you really LOVE (for example) feet and is then hit with pages of descriptions of the foot in loving detail. So unless you're writing for the specific audience, you have to steel yourself to cut your favorite scenes down to something manageable. Or in the first situation, you need the presence of mind to say, "Hey, I didn't cover this well enough, I have to add more detail." This takes practice, and editorial perspective that another writer may provide you (though I have been very disappointed in my own attempts to find "beta readers"). This forced me to my final secret.

SECRET #8--GAINING THE PERSPECTIVE FOR PROPER EDITING


Time and practice will cut down this particular bit of self-discipline you need. I find that I can do a pretty fair job with a single, immediate re-reading of my stories, but I also have been writing and selling for nearly twenty-five years now. My method for the first sales, which I commend to you, the novice, is as follows:

1. Write your story down in rough draft, doing as well as you can but making it all in a single sweep.

2. Then set the story aside for at least a week while you work on something else entirely. Try to avoid even thinking about the story.

3. Then go back to the story, but read it the second time with an editor's eye, like someone else wrote this tripe (yes, you need that much of a detached viewpoint, aim for it!) and you were called in to salvage it.

This has worked for me consistently over the years; I sold my first story at age eighteen and can sell again whenever I wish (but I'm having too much fun with the Worldwide Web, being my own boss). So try it.

CONCLUSION


There may be more I should mention, and feedback on this point is welcome. Feel free to e-mail me and tell me if I left something out. I don't exactly have an editor to do that for me, but I DID give this story the treatment of Secret #8, so I hope I've covered it all.

Now get out there and write, damn it! I hope this webpage helped!

THE END
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