Forum posts made by gallagherwitt

Topic Any suggestions for articles?
Posted 19 Aug 2011 00:18

I'm with you, Rumple, repetitive types of sentences quickly come to your attention and distract from the story. You've got to mix it up, people.

Agreed.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks. Not sure how soon I'll be able to post something, but I'll try to get an article or two up ASAP. I'm stapled to a couple of deadlines and working on moving from Okinawa to the States, so as you can imagine, life's a little hectic. Soon, though. :D

Topic Any suggestions for articles?
Posted 19 Aug 2011 00:16



That. How do people fix that?

I would start by not using the same word to begin each sentence...that would make a huge difference right there...

"She walked into the room, found the couch and sat on it. Taking out her deck of cards, she began to do magic tricks. She liked how the cards were flat. Suddenly she was transported into another dimension by underpants gnomes who had been hiding beneath her skirt the whole time."

You know Jingle...I'd really like to see you finish that story...we haven't had a good underpants gnome story here on Lush in quite some time...happy8

Yep, what DM said. And I'm all for underpants gnome stories.

I'll add sentence structure to my list, though.

Topic Any suggestions for articles?
Posted 16 Aug 2011 02:56

Like Morgan, I'm on crunch time to finish some books on deadlines, but I'm trying to work in the time to write some articles to post here. It's a nice break, especially when my book is giving me fits, which it is.

Is there anything in particular members want information/tips/pointers on?

Topic Erotica writers have no self-respect?
Posted 03 Jul 2011 03:37

America is still a country founded by Puritans. There was a good story in Salon today about a recent Supreme Court decision which would allow almost any amount of violence in video games, but still restrict any nudity severely. Judge Stevens in his dissent said something like: A game is o.k. for kids under 17 if you hit the hooker and then chop her head off, but if she's topless all of a sudden it's rated?

Exceptional American sex hangup.

God, this is so true. I know people who let their kids play Grand Theft Auto...until they found out there's a bonus where you can obtain a silver vibrator.

Yes. A vibrator.

Grand Theft Auto...and a VIBRATOR was the deal-breaker.

>.<

Topic Erotica writers have no self-respect?
Posted 26 Jun 2011 22:03

GAWD that stuff drives me nuts. >.< Sex is an enormous part of the human condition, and acting like we shouldn't write about it is absurd. Especially when most of the people who spout all that crap have no problem at all with violence. ... And don't even get me started on people who think smut is "well, it's okay, I guess", but are horrified -- HORRIFIED I SAY! -- about gay erotica. ... Great post, Morgan, as always.

Why is it that murder is just fine, in music, on TV, in the movies... while making love is not?
-- That's what I'd like to know.

No shit. I often tell the story of a woman I know who took her six year-old to see Hostel . Yes, HOSTEL . Everyone knows that film is torture porn, but she didn't realize the first part of the movie is pretty much soft core porn. And she walked out of the theatre.

I said, "Wait...you took your SIX YEAR OLD to see Hostel , and the SEX was the deal-breaker?"

I could live to be 300 years old, and I will never, ever understand why graphic violence is okay, but sex is horrifying.

Topic Good for Your Writing! ~ A Book List
Posted 26 Jun 2011 22:00

Great recommendations!

I also highly recommend Writing the Breakout Novel by Don Maass , and How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman .

Oh, I've heard extremely good things about both of those books! I just haven't had the opportunity to read them -- yet.

"How Not to Write..." is worth reading for the humor alone. The examples are hilarious. But it's quite insightful, too.

And "Breakout" is definitely a good one.

Topic Good for Your Writing! ~ A Book List
Posted 26 Jun 2011 01:48

Great recommendations!

I also highly recommend Writing the Breakout Novel by Don Maass , and How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman .

Topic Erotica writers have no self-respect?
Posted 26 Jun 2011 01:45

GAWD that stuff drives me nuts. >.< Sex is an enormous part of the human condition, and acting like we shouldn't write about it is absurd. Especially when most of the people who spout all that crap have no problem at all with violence.

Case in point: I was 16 when Titanic came out, and a lot of parents were horrified about us going to see it because of the TEH BEWBAGE and the OMG BACKSEAT SCENE. No one batted an eye about Rose's fiance' smacking her across the face, a guy bouncing off the ship's prop, or, you know, dozens of people freezing to death in the Atlantic.

And don't even get me started on people who think smut is "well, it's okay, I guess", but are horrified -- HORRIFIED I SAY! -- about gay erotica. Nothing entertains me more than looking them right in the eye and asking, "Oh really? And just WHAT is wrong with two men having consensual, passionate sex?" Usually makes them stammer and stutter a bit...hehehe

Anyway.

/rant over

Great post, Morgan, as always.

Topic Writing Exercise: DESCRIPTION
Posted 15 Jun 2011 04:44

I'm glad you're safe Lori. I thought the entire chain was susceptible to tsunamis and earthquakes?

At least you're well away from the radiation.

New Zealand has now been put on high alert, people are flocking out of Christchurch. That city might end up abandoned, if all the reports on the news are true.

The whole chain is susceptible to tsunamis and earthquakes, but we were unaffected by March's disaster. We had a large quake here last year, but not enough to cause damage or injury. Seems like typhoons are going to be our problem this year.

Scary what's going on in Christchurch. I feel for the people there!

Topic Writing Exercise: DESCRIPTION
Posted 14 Jun 2011 03:52

I'd wait before travelling to Japan any day soon. Despite what the govt says, I've read that it will not be until January next year that the stricken nuclear reactor will actually be safe, and it will take around a decade to decommission all those thousands of stockpiled fuel rods, which should never have been allowed to sit there all this time in the first place.

I have been reading about that on the various news sites.
-- Scary how they let those just sit there for so long. My guess is that they simply didn't know what to do with them. There's no place on that tiny chain of islands that they can bury it. Every inch is covered in people.

Most nuclear plants have significant numbers of rods just stored, mostly because it's so difficult to dispose of them. There's a lot of controversy and red tape surrounding where/how it's safe to dispose of or transport them, so they're kept in nuclear facilities until that's worked out. Which is fine, sort of...until a massive earthquake/tsunami hits.

I understand it's safe to travel *through* Japan right now -- hell, my parents went through Narita (Tokyo) on the way to see me about a week after the quake -- but I'm opting not to take all those trips up to the mainland that I had planned for this summer. I'll go through Narita en route back to the States, but...I think I'll stay down here on Okinawa where it's safe.

Topic would you cheat on your partner
Posted 05 Jun 2011 00:01

My husband and I have an agreement: there are certain celebrities with whom it would not be cheating. I mean, if I ever got a shot at Jared or Shannon Leto, or if either of us got a chance with Olivia Wilde...hell yes, we'd allow it. :D So no, I wouldn't cheat on him...he'd practically shove me into bed with them as long as I told him all the details later.

Topic "The story must have an ending?"
Posted 27 May 2011 03:28

I think the last few stories I wrote so far are just chapters, not stories. Haven't got the knack of a real ending yet. Ending a story is a good ambition to work toward..

Even I have trouble with endings. Despite my dedicated plotting, my stories can and do wander to places I don't expect.

Amen to that. Endings are tricky beasts. I have a tendency to write my endings very early on (I write out of sequence), but at least 1/3 of the time, that ending ends up changing numerous times before the first draft is finished. The last book I finished wound up, during editing, losing the epilogue and about half of the last chapter, and I rewrote it to give it a slightly different ending. Ironically, the epilogue left the story feeling incomplete and the ending rushed, but now it has a better finish...while still leaving it open for the sequel. Definitely was NOT the ending I had in mind when I started.

Topic Writing a Whole Novel...?
Posted 23 May 2011 17:59

My motivation is: IF I DON'T FINISH IT SOON, I WON'T FINISH IT AT ALL. That doesn't work for everyone, but I've learned it's the only way I'll ever finish anything.

I have the same problem. If I don't write a story as fast as I can, non-stop -- without interruptions -- it'll stall.
-- Once a story stalls on me, it'll take MONTHS or even YEARS to get back into that head-space to finish it. I CAN do it. I HAVE done it, but it was very much like eating my own eyeballs; nasty, slimy, and very painful.

Exactly. As we speak, I'm working on a book that I put aside in November, and it's been pure word dentistry for the last day or so. It's getting better though, mostly owing to the fact that it now sort of has a deadline attached to it. Seems like a deadline will prompt me to get ANY story done quick, fast, and in a hurry. lol But it's still a little painful getting started. lol

Topic Writing a Whole Novel...?
Posted 23 May 2011 00:03

heh - i have one stalled out at like 70k right now and i just can't seem to get into the right head space to finish it - it's frustrating, and yes, it's nothing like pumping out short stories when you have a week or two of inspiration and time. *sighs*

This is one of the reasons I write fast. If a book takes me too long, I start losing interest until it gets to the point I'd rather eat my own eyeballs than keep working on it. Keeping in mind I work 8-16 hours a day, the average novel takes me about 3 weeks, plus a few days for editing. Sometimes they'll stretch to 6-8 weeks, like if it's an exceptionally long or complicated book (i.e., a suspense/thriller), but 8 weeks is about the most my attention span can take. My motivation is: IF I DON'T FINISH IT SOON, I WON'T FINISH IT AT ALL. That doesn't work for everyone, but I've learned it's the only way I'll ever finish anything.

Topic Writing a Whole Novel...?
Posted 22 May 2011 15:42

Basically you keep going till you're done. Sorry, but that's the only way to do it.

I think that should be written in blood over every writer's computer.

Topic The Editor is Your Friend - by Stefani V. Kelsey
Posted 16 May 2011 07:32

Fun, isn't it? LOL I try to be on the ball and tune each manuscript to the house style *before* I submit it so I don't waste their time or mine, but invariably, there ends up being some tweakage. Can't win for losing, dammit. lol

Just goes to show that Editors are just as different from each other as authors.

Amen to that. I have one who likes to put commas in all over the place, and another who's a commacidal maniac. Gotta love 'em. :D

Topic The Editor is Your Friend - by Stefani V. Kelsey
Posted 15 May 2011 18:03

Editors are awesome. I've learned something from every one of them, and the most brutal among my editors have been the best.

Here! here!

And can I just say, it would be wonderful for my sanity if every house in the universe adopted the same house style. It'll never happen, but...a girl can dream. lol (About two weeks ago, I was juggling four sets of edits, all from different publishers, and it was actually funny how many things one house would do one way and another would do completely differently. It was either funny or I was going insane. One of the two.)

I have 4 publishers and NONE Agree with Any of the others!

Fun, isn't it? LOL I try to be on the ball and tune each manuscript to the house style *before* I submit it so I don't waste their time or mine, but invariably, there ends up being some tweakage. Can't win for losing, dammit. lol

Topic The Editor is Your Friend - by Stefani V. Kelsey
Posted 14 May 2011 19:50

Editors are awesome. I've learned something from every one of them, and the most brutal among my editors have been the best.

And can I just say, it would be wonderful for my sanity if every house in the universe adopted the same house style. It'll never happen, but...a girl can dream. lol (About two weeks ago, I was juggling four sets of edits, all from different publishers, and it was actually funny how many things one house would do one way and another would do completely differently. It was either funny or I was going insane. One of the two.)

Topic An Opening HOOK?
Posted 13 May 2011 05:47

Your first line must make the reader read the first paragraph
Your first paragraph must make them read the first page
Your first page must make them read the first chapter
Your first chapter must make them keep reading

That should be taped to every writer's monitor.

Quoted for truth.

I highly recommend having a look at the entries in Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest . It gives an excellent idea of what agents/editors have to sift through, and how important it is to REALLY stand out from the crowd. After reading fifteen or twenty entries, they all kind of start blending together until one REALLY good one jumps out at you.

Topic There's a Story in There Somewhere.
Posted 13 May 2011 05:41

I've mentioned before that I often use images of people as a starting point for my characters. In fact, I really can't write a story without having a photo of a person to represent each major character; just one of my quirks, I guess.

Oh, it's not just you. I tend to form a strong image in my head and then go out and find images that fit that image. I have whole folders full of images for my characters.

I have spent an embarrassing amount of time looking at celeb photos on http://www.listal.com/actors

Oh, I've been there too. Plenty of times. I mean, I have my celeb crushes anyway, but my "celebrities" folder on my computer is appallingly huge. LOL Between that and the stuff I find on Tumblr, I have looooooads of potential characters and situations.

Topic There's a Story in There Somewhere.
Posted 13 May 2011 05:39

Ooooooh! GOOD Article!
-- I use pictures for inspiration myself. Right here on LUSH there's a huge picture gallery with tons of men and women in interesting situations that simply beg for stories.

Thanks!! And yeah, galleries like that are a freaking gold mine for stories. I've been gathering pictures for so long, I have about 12,000 pics on my computer (all obsessively sorted so I can find almost anything on a moment's notice). There's ALWAYS a story in there somewhere.

Topic BURNOUT ~ SUCCESS is Out to Get You!
Posted 09 May 2011 17:46

There are similarities from book to book, but I can't get into the whole "change the names and a few adjectives" routine. So far, no one's asked me to, so here's hoping it stays this way. :D

Wait til you get: "Just write anything, it doesn't matter what, as long as you give them something ."

I got that from my Agent. (The one I don't have anymore.) She was more than a little obvious about being interested in "as much as possible, as fast as possible" than a decent story.

Unfortunately, (for her,) I have fans that WILL give me shit of the story isn't the best I can produce. Happily those same fans have no problem waiting for something "good".

Oh yeah, that wouldn't fly. My readers have no qualms about raking me over the coals if I don't give them something worth reading. That, and why would we want to put our names on something half-assed? I can certainly see why you wouldn't have that agent anymore...

Topic There's a Story in There Somewhere.
Posted 09 May 2011 06:20

I posted this on my blog recently, but thought it might be useful here, so I'm reposting it. Hope people find it helpful. :) This is less about how to write per se, and more about how to get the gears turning when you don't know what to write *about*. How does it pertain to dirty stories in particular? Trust me...an erotic photo or two works perfectly for this...

This is another "how I do things" post. Specifically, how to get the wheels turning when I can't think of a story, or I just need a little inspiration.

(Also: I am not taking credit for any of these photos. They're images I've collected over the years, and unless marked otherwise, I don't have the names of the photographers. I will gladly remove or credit upon request.)

I've mentioned before that I often use images of people as a starting point for my characters. In fact, I really can't write a story without having a photo of a person to represent each major character; just one of my quirks, I guess. But it isn't just people. Pretty much any picture has the potential to spark a story. Sometimes, I'll see an image, and I think, "There's a story in there somewhere." It's the writer's job to find that story.

Sometimes it's a setting.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/forest1.jpg

Play with that in your mind. Put a couple of characters in that photo, and let the wheels turn. Why are they there? What dangers do they face? How will they get out? Do they want to get out?

Just look at this image (by Jerry Reynolds Photography):

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/bwhouse.jpg

The architecture. The surrounding landscape. The atmosphere. Oh yeah, there's a story there.

And of course, sometimes pictures of people are good for this too. Look at a picture of one or two people, and ask yourself what's going on.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/6255_107369598844_92516253844_2199374_4379414_n.jpg

In this still from Walk The Line, anyone who's seen the movie knows what's going on and why, but put that aside for a minute and look at the picture outside of its context. Ignore the movie and the names (even though it's Joaquin Phoenix, who is liquid-freaking-distraction), and just look at the man and woman and the tension between them. He's moving in for a kiss, she's reluctant. Why? What led them up to this point? Is she hesitating because she really isn't interested in him, or is there something else holding her back?

Another example is this still from Women Talking Dirty...

http://upload.lushstories.com/611-Women_Talking_Dirty_105.jpg

Now, it's not like I need an excuse to stare at a picture of James Purefoy (have I mentioned how much I love my job?), but this is as good a reason as any. Why is he at the door? Whose apartment/office/lair/bedroom/recording studio is it? Why does he have that particular expression? Does he want to be there? Does he have to be there? Is this the last place in the universe he should be?

In a way, it's kind of like asking yourself why Mona Lisa is smiling.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/mona_lisa.jpg

It's anyone's guess, but for the writer, it doesn't matter why she's really smiling. Forget the facts. Forget the speculation. Look at the picture and ask yourself why. Maybe da Vinci cracked a joke at an opportune moment. Maybe his fly is open and she's trying not to laugh. What's going through her mind? Where was she before she sat for the painting, and where will she go afterward? Does she want to sit for this painting? Are she and da Vinci shooting the breeze while he paints? Answer those questions. Run with those answers. There's your story.

But it can be even more basic than settings and people. Quite frankly, I find that the less the picture shows, the better. After all, the less I know, the more I get to make up.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/spilled-wine-carpet-spring-lg.jpg

At first glance, it's just a picture of some red wine spilled on the carpet. Oooooh, exciting. But think about it for a minute. Then another minute. Whose hand was it in before it spilled? Did the cat bump it off the coffee table, or did someone drop it upon receiving some unexpected news? Was it knocked over in a moment or passion, or a moment of anger? It's just a glass of wine, but somehow, it ended up on the carpet.

Basically, it boils down to looking at an image of anyone, anything, or anywhere, and seeing where your mind takes you. Find the story no one else sees in that image. Don't just look at the picture and see the pretty face or the stunning view...look for the dots, and look for ways to connect them.

And speaking of wine and somehow ending up somewhere, I think we can all agree...

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i177/thethinker42/morningafterparty.jpg

...there's a story in there somewhere.

Topic BURNOUT ~ SUCCESS is Out to Get You!
Posted 09 May 2011 05:58


LOL! And then there's me with EVERY book I write being quite a bit different from the next. However, it hasn't lost me any fans.


Same here, on both counts. There are similarities from book to book, but I can't get into the whole "change the names and a few adjectives" routine. So far, no one's asked me to, so here's hoping it stays this way. :D

Topic BURNOUT ~ SUCCESS is Out to Get You!
Posted 07 May 2011 18:14

A-freaking-men. It is so, so easy to burn out. ...Solution? ...I've forced myself to take 2-3 weeks off to recharge, and it works like a charm every time. I call it my self-imposed grounding.

Anyway, that's my ongoing experience with the burn-out demons. Great article!

I'm glad you liked it!
-- I take a week-long slacker's break every time I finish a full novel. In my case, I usually sleep all the way around the clock for the first few days.

I've tried to do that, but usually around the time I'm finishing one book, another is waiting in the wings demanding my attention. So I'll usually start editing the finished book in between outlining the new one, submit the finished one, then jump right into the new one. I'm actually between books right now...finished one on Friday, but then Saturday was my husband's birthday, so I had a rather convenient excuse for a day off. Today, I'm flitting between editing that book and outlining my next one.

Considering my next five books are on deadlines, albeit flexible ones, I foresee the need for another (if shorter) self-imposed grounding soon.

And sleeping around the clock for a few days sounds like total bliss. I don't sleep for shit anyway, so...lol

Topic BURNOUT ~ SUCCESS is Out to Get You!
Posted 07 May 2011 07:20

A-freaking-men. It is so, so easy to burn out.

Toward the end of November 2010, I started getting to the point I couldn't write ANYTHING. I usually write at least 75,000 words a month, but it just wasn't happening. Then I stopped and realized that, since May, I hadn't taken more than 4 consecutive days off and had written something like 550,000 words. Solution? I forced myself to take December off. No word count quotas, no making myself finish a draft every month, nada. Unless a story came to me that absolutely demanded to be written, or an editor sent me edits to work on, I was SLACKING.

Within 7 days, a story demanded to be written. Just a little novella, but it came quickly and easily. Wrote it, edited it, sent it off, and resumed slacking. By January, I was back in my groove, and it's been all good ever since. Other times over the last 2 years, I've forced myself to take 2-3 weeks off to recharge, and it works like a charm every time. I call it my self-imposed grounding.

Anyway, that's my ongoing experience with the burn-out demons. Great article!

Lori...who promises to be around more as soon as a few of these deadlines are crossed off the calendar...

Topic Guide to Punctuating for the Reading Impaired ~ by Phil Phantom
Posted 28 Apr 2011 05:43

LMAO Best punctuation article EVER.

Topic The Subtle (and Annoying) STATIC TRAIT
Posted 16 Apr 2011 01:13

I have plenty of BDSM sex scenes, but not in this book. lol The water-boarding was detailed, written in first-POV from the victim's perspective, plus there's a chapter or two after that with him dealing with what amounts to PTSD from it. But it was necessary for the story. It's an erotic suspense, so there's plenty of sex in the book...just not THAT scene. lol

Very sensible.
-- I've discovered that as long as you draw a solid line between what's supposed to be pleasurable and what's Not, you can cross some erotic romance publishers' 'no-go' lines. SOME...

Indeed. My book Reconstructing Meredith goes into some detail about sexual abuse (more about the psychological effects than graphic descriptions of the abuse itself), and the character even has PTSD-related flashbacks during a sex scene, but it's kept VERY separate from what's supposed to be arousing. My editor is extremely "NO WAY" about rape as titillation, things like that, but she was all for this book because I stopped just short of writing in giant red letters THIS IS NOT AROUSING THIS IS BAD.

Topic The Subtle (and Annoying) STATIC TRAIT
Posted 14 Apr 2011 17:17

I actually have a scene of water-boarding in one of my upcoming books, but it is NOT part of a sex scene or anything of the sort. lol It's used as a method of serious torture. (And was rather skin-crawly to write, if I'm honest...)

I've done one torture session, but I didn't go into any real detail. I mostly stuck to what was going on in the victim's mind rather than go into gruesome detail as to what was happening physically.

I squick the readers enough with some of my borderline BDSM Sex scenes. I don't need to send them gibbering into corners too.



I have plenty of BDSM sex scenes, but not in this book. lol The water-boarding was detailed, written in first-POV from the victim's perspective, plus there's a chapter or two after that with him dealing with what amounts to PTSD from it. But it was necessary for the story. It's an erotic suspense, so there's plenty of sex in the book...just not THAT scene. lol

Topic Would you take the cash?
Posted 14 Apr 2011 04:49

If th epublisher is willing to pay, and he/she must know of your distaste, then go for it, take the money. If you are successful, then you'll have the power to change, and the publisher who follows the money will go along wioth youy - assuming you are any good!

Not really. If you are successful, your publisher will want more of the same. If it ain't broke, don't fix it...give us more of what sold really well the first time around. That, and you'll gain a reputation among your readers as writing that sort of thing. Those who were turned off by it won't touch your work with a ten-foot pole (personally, I have a blacklist of several authors whose work I won't go near). Those who liked it will expect more of the same.

So, if you were to go along with this sort of hypothetical, you're more likely to be asked to write more of the same, not be able to take liberties and do what you want to do.