Forum posts made by morganhawke

Topic High-Speed PLOTTING
Posted 02 Apr 2011 05:19

do what i do - threaten them with deletion if they fall into line!

Icon Love!

Topic High-Speed PLOTTING
Posted 02 Apr 2011 05:19

It's helping, actually. :) Biggest problems I'm running into now relate to some logistics (getting character X in the vicinity of character Y) and motivations (WHY is character X going to where character Y is), but the overall plot arc is working. :D

-- To get one character in the vicinity of the other, try something simple and ordinary. Murphy's Law can also be amazingly useful!

> They stop at a convenience store to buy a snack.
> They stop at a coffee shop because they always stop at this coffee shop before (or after) work.
> They stop at a gas station.
> The car got a flat.
> The plane had to set down in a different city because of weather conditions or engine issues and now they're stuck on an overnight wait, so they go to a local hotel.

Topic High-Speed PLOTTING
Posted 02 Apr 2011 04:50

...And now that my outline just got hijacked for the 17th time, I'm going to give Morgan's technique a go and see if that helps me sort it out. *mumbles about obnoxious characters*

Let me know if it works!

Topic High-Speed PLOTTING
Posted 01 Apr 2011 02:41
Three Questions ~ A Quick & Dirty Plotting Trick

The easiest way for me to craft a story at top speed is by picking my characters then deciding on the Final Climactic Scene. I plot the rest of the story to make that scene happen.

How do I START with Characters?
- I ask Three Questions:

1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action!

1 - I am a Spy and I steal secrets from my enemies.
2 - I want to destroy my enemy.
3 - Convince me that I've been working on the wrong side all along.

1 - I'm a Vampire and a predator.
2 - I need blood to live.
3 - Make me fall in love with the one person I will destroy with my appetites.

" Three Questions " is the simplest plotting method out there, and one of the most useful for short stories. The main character’s "worst possible thing" gives me the Ordeal , the darkest moment in the story leading to the confrontation at the Climax . I arrange the rest of the story, the PLOT, to get them to that moment.

When you're writing a Novel, these same questions should be used to outline the drives and motives of ALL THREE of your main characters: Adversary, Proponent and Ally, (Protagonist / Antagonist / Obstacle Character, or more simply, Hero / Heroine / Villain.)

Once you know the answers to these questions for all three main characters, you have your entire story.
- Combining the "worst possible thing" for each of them creates your story's Ordeal (the Darkest Moment).
- The Inciting Event , (what starts the story rolling,) comes from "who they are, and what they do."
- Your Climax comes from the conflict of "what each wants".


Leon: The Professional
1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

1 - I am a kid and my family has just been killed.
2 - I need to destroy my enemy – before he destroys me.
3 – Find me the perfect assassin – but make him too honorable to allow a kid to kill.

1 - I am a professional assassin with strong morals. I don’t kill kids or women.
2 - I want to do my jobs and remain hidden from the police.
3 – Have me take pity on a kid and hide her from her family’s killers, but make her determined to exact revenge – against the police. Oh, and make her a loud-mouth too.

1 - I am a crooked (and happily insane,) cop.
2 - I need to protect my secrets.
3 – Make the one person that knows my secrets a child – with a professional assassin for her guardian.

Inciting Event
-- Escaping the murder of her family, 12-year old Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment next door, with Leon, a professional assassin.

Ordeal / Dark Moment
-- Having learned how to handle a gun, Mathilda trails the cop that murdered her family all the way to the precinct to kill him -- but she’s never actually killed anyone before.

-- The police --led by the insane cop-- track Mathilda back Leon’s, and all hell breaks loose.

3 Questions -- In Erotic Fiction
To BE Erotic Fiction the SEX must turn the Plot, so everything shifts - Character AND Plot to make the Sex Scenes count.

The Difference between EROTIC & EROTICA
-- Too many people seem to think that Erotica is any story with Sex in it. This is FAR from the Truth. A story with sex in it may be Erotic, but it is not EROTICA. Erotica is NOT defined by how Much sex you have in the story, but WHERE you put the sex -- and WHY.

> An EROTIC story has sex in it.
> EROTICA is a story where the PLOT hinges on Sexual Events.
> EROTIC ROMANCE is a story where Plot-Turning Sexual Events maps the progress of the Love Relationship DURING an Adventure.

In the average vampire story, the vampire's NEED for blood is the lynchpin for the entire plot. Whether or not he succeeds in getting that blood from the other characters rules every major turning point in the plot.

> If the vampire has sex - then the plot is erotic.
> If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, then the story becomes Erotica.
> If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, and falls in love with his donor, and THEN has bad guys to deal with to protect his new love, then the story becomes Erotic Romance.

Okay? Now, on with the lecture!

To use the “Three Questions” in Erotic Fiction, the answer to one (or more) of those questions should be SEXUAL.

1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action!

1 - I am a Kinky Dom and I like extreme forms of SEXUAL DISCIPLINE.
2 - I want a lover that needs the type of SEX I like to give.
3 - Convince me that my lover would be better off without my sexual appetites interfering in their lives.

The PLOT would revolve around the characters' problems of Accepting their unusual sexuality.

By the way, this is the plot for the movie: Secretary

T he BIG Secret: The Smaller the cast – the Shorter the story.
By focusing on only THREE main characters, you keep your story TIGHT. You won’t get entangled in subplots that eat space and revision-time -- trying to chop them back out when you run over your word-count.

In Conclusion...
-- THIS is the fastest way I've found to get a first draft written. Remember, the only thing that can't be fixed is a Blank Page.

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Topic Erotica Without Sex?
Posted 30 Mar 2011 22:54

Erotica Without Sex?
Is Erotic Tension EROTIC Enough?

-----Original Message-----
"Can a story still, be considered erotic without lots of sex? Can the sexual tension throughout the story make it erotic?" -- Shy-writer

YES! A story can be VERY erotic without actually having sex. The point of eroticism is to excite the Reader , and I'm sorry to say even graphic sex is not always exciting. However...

If you label a story Erotic , the Readers are going to expect Sex.
My publishers all want stories with graphic sex, but they also expect a compelling story. In fact, many of them will take a good story with lousy or very little sex over a wall-to-wall sex extravaganza. However, they Do expect at least some sexual content because that's what their readers are shopping for.

If you don't want people to expect sex in your story, don't use the word Erotic to describe it. Many authors that don't write detailed love scenes, but do have a lot of sexual tension use the word Sensual to describe their work.

The trick to Eroticism is ANTICIPATION.
The Catch is DELIVERY.
If you build an expectation, (whether you're writing erotica, romance, horror, or suspense,) you had better deliver on it. If you don't - you will Pay Dearly! Think: Hate Mail. This of course comes after your book has been thrown across the room by a frustrated reader, and already hit the wall.

Lack of Delivery is like being on a roller coaster that has this HUGE climb and then drops about three feet - and stops. The riders look at each other and say: "What happened? I thought I was in for this big swooping, falling Whoosh of a ride? Where’s the whoosh?"

Just like with that roller coaster, Erotic build-up must have a corresponding action sequence of some kind (a whoosh) to diffuse the tension generated by anticipation.

This is true in any genre that uses anticipation, whether it's erotica, romance, horror or suspense. No matter what you write, the anticipation must lead to a scene explosive enough to match -- and diffuse the build-up.

Untapped Anticipation = Monumental FRUSTRATION.
Frustration is BAD. Anticipation needs RELEASE and that means an action scene strong enough to invoke a visceral and / or emotional response in the reader Equal to the amount of tension built up.

However... Action doesn't always mean SEX! There ARE other ways to deliver Whoosh!
-- The problem with releasing sexual tension is that Sex is an ACTION, so only another high-tension Action will do. However, it doesn't have to be the same kind of Action, it doesn't have to be Sexual. What it must possess is the same level of Sensory and Emotional detail to keep the story level.

Examples of scenes that can be used to diffuse Tension:

> Dramatic Dialogue (funny, angry, terribly poignant...)
> Fight Scenes (swords, guns, knives, fists...)
> Chases (cars, horses, on foot through the forest...)
> Pratfalls (Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplain anyone?)
> Graphic Violence (blood, gore, etc...)

Mary Janice Davidson uses seriously snappy dialogue exchanges and lots silly situational comedy. Angela Knight delivers perfectly balanced Whoosh by using a blend of rip-roaring Adventure Action, in addition to snappy dialogue and roasty-toasty sex! (And a twisty plot too!)

The key is to a sufficient Release in Tension is EMOTIONAL INVESTITURE.
-- In your story, what Emotion is also being invoked with your rising Tension? Fear, Love, Hate, Anger...? Whatever emotion that tension invokes MUST be Present and Countered along with the Action to enact a sufficient release.

For example, if your heroine is physically attracted (sexual tension) to someone she Doesn't like, (anger) then an angry kiss would diffuse that tension, as would an angry sex scene. (Grudge-fuck anyone?)

"Can a story still, be considered erotic without lots of sex? Can the sexual tension throughout the story make it erotic?"
-- Yes! You can have an amazingly erotic story that has no sex in it. Anne Rice is a master at sex-less erotica. She uses graphic violence to diffuse her sexual tension. Most horror stories are erotic in nature and they ALL use graphic violence to diffuse their sexual tension.

BUT ~ Anne Rice's books are NOT labeled as Erotic! Nor are Laurell K Hamilton's, and LKH has LOTS of sex -- as well as violence -- in her later books. Their books are labeled Horror.

The problem is not the STORY.
It's the Publishers and the Readers.
If you label a story EROTIC, they EXPECT SEX.
-- If you don't plan to have a lot of sex in your story, you can get around this by NOT calling it EROTICA. But don't worry, all that lovely Erotic tension will get noticed just the same! (Reviewers are funny that way.)

Erotica & PROFANITY?
Vocabulary Issues
-----Original Message-----
Is it necessary to use profanity when writing love scenes in erotic romance? Like the measure of how graphic the sex should be, is profanity in love scenes a publisher requirement? I realize each publisher has different requirements, but I'm, talking about a general accepted, EXPECTED format for the genre in question.

How much Profanity should go in your Erotica?
-- However much it takes to tell the story from THAT character’s POV.

This is where we get into the controversial subject of VOICE. My opinion (and that of ALL of my editors’,) is that the level of profanity used in dialogue and to describe the actions of a sex scene should be in direct correlation to the POV characters involved. Ahem.. . Text should always reflect the POV character’s Voice PERIOD. Anything else is AUTHOR INTRUSION.

A nice girl is not going to use profanity in her dialogue or in her descriptive thoughts. It would not be unusual for her to refer to a guy’s dick as a thing, or thingie, or a penis.

However, a Marine never refers to his dick as a penis. It's a dick. Penis is considered a girly-word. Someone’ else’s dick is a ‘prick’ and he calls his dick a 'cock' when he’s actively engaged in using it. And a Marine fucks, he does not make love. Only wimps, pansies, and limp-wristed mommas’ boys ‘make love’.

If the Nice Girl is the POV character, the descriptive text will not be all that profane as the scene is being told from her view. However, the Marine’s dialogue will have loads of profanity peppered throughout it. Profanity is a guy thing, especially if they are Military or work outdoors.

I have NO Respect for an erotica writer that wimps out and uses; member, penis or vagina in their fiction. We’re adults writing for ADULTS. Let's have some realistically Adult Language. Thank you verra much.

If you have problems writing profanity:
DON’T use a POV character that would use profanity.

It’s that simple.

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Topic Choosing a PUBLISHER ~ or Three.
Posted 30 Mar 2011 21:34

If a publisher has consistently crappy covers, think twice before subbing to them. The author has input in cover art, but the final say belongs with the publisher, so if they routinely put out unattractive covers, your odds of getting a bad one are high.

VERY good point. It's happened to me a couple of times.

I'll also second Morgan's comments about having multiple publishers. I have eight, four of which I submit to on a regular basis. Two of my editors in particular have polar opposite tastes...if one doesn't like a manuscript, I can bet money the other will, and the books purchased by either of them generally sell very well.

This way you Always have money coming in. :)

Finally, I rather like having multiple editors because, hey, I'm not a perfect writer by any means. With every editor, I learn something new...either a way to tighten up my prose, a way to improve pacing, or some crutch word I didn't know I was abusing.

I have learned more from my editors --and their red pens-- than from anywhere else, and that includes all the How-To books I've read.

Great post, Morgan. :)

Thank you!

Topic Choosing a PUBLISHER ~ or Three.
Posted 28 Mar 2011 21:43

Choosing a PUBLISHER ~ or Three.
When dealing with novels, as opposed to short stories, is having more than one publisher or imprints, a Good thing? Say you find a publisher that really likes your stuff, should you just send everything to them and not bother with another? Could being associated (in the market's eyes,) with a particular publisher or imprint – cause problems later?

I see the publishing world as kind of like a big Mall.

Among the ebook publishers...
-- You have massive department stores, like Sears, (New Concepts Publishing,) and Dillard’s, (Samhain,) sophisticated boutiques like Victoria’s Secret, (Loose Id,) and Abercrombie & Fitch, (Liquid Silver,) specialty shops like Hot Topic, (Changeling Press,) and Godiva Chocolates, (Sugar and Spice Press,) novelty shops like Fredericks of Hollywood, (Extasy Books,) and the Disney Store, (Mundania Press,) trinket kiosks in the aisles, (all the brand new publishers that are still gathering authors and working on establishing their reader-base,) and you have people wandering around taking surveys, (all those book-themed yahoo groups.)

The big NY publishers are their own individual malls, each with their own set of little specialty boutiques, known as imprints.

An author with a brand new manuscript is like a salesman representing a cool new product. Obviously, the type of product (content,) and its quality (whether or not the author can actually write,) governs what type of buyer it will interest, therefore those same qualities come into account when the salesman (our author,) offers it to a particular shop’s manager (a publishing house’s editor.)

A fast-talking salesman CAN talk a manager into buying something that does not suit their boutique, however, that doesn’t mean the BUYERS will ever purchase it.

A fast-talking farmer that has apples in his baskets may actually get a table at Dilliards , but his sales are going to suck. Should our farmer take his apples to Harris Teeter (or any other grocery store,) his negotiations will not only go smoother, he’ll probably make a killing.

Logically speaking, if your product is in the Right shop, the right buyers will find it, love it, and come back looking for more. Put it in the Wrong shop and all it will do is gather dust, at least until the sales hit and you are discovered by someone who stepped in on a whim.

The key point here is The BUYER.

• Some buyers only shop at one place in particular.
• Some buyers visit every shop and buy a little from each.
• Some buyers visit certain shops only on particular occasions.
• Some buyers only visit shops where they know the folks that work there.
• Some buyers keep a tight budget.
• Some buyers blow their entire paycheck every weekend buying here, there, and everywhere.
• Some buyers only window shop, but tell all their friends about what they saw available, so their friends will buy it, and they borrow it from them later.

There’s just no way to get them ALL.

But there IS a way to get the bulk of the buyers specifically looking for what you have to offer – it’s called: put it in the Shop your buyer is most likely to visit. Ahem… The RIGHT Publishing house.

Why should someone have more than one publishing house?
Because most authors write more than one type of book. Just like any other product, books won’t sell if the readers looking for those particular stories don’t go there. Something experimental, or sufficiently different from what has been selling like hot-cakes at that publishing house, may not suit the buyers that normally visit there.

I have Four publishers.
• Loose Id Books – for my super-kinky hardcore Sci-Fi.
• Kensington books – for my sexy (vanilla) Adventure Fantasies.
• Extasy Books – they carry my earliest work.
• Mojo Castle – for my experimental fiction.

HOWEVER! ~ If you are a popular enough Author you can go ANYWHERE because your readers will come find you; especially if you have a website pointing them in the right direction.

The only disadvantage of one publisher over another is: Publisher Reputation

If you are a New author – Reputation MATTERS.
A publishing house with a rep for poor editing can drive away potential buyers. On the other hand, if you are an Established author you can boost that publisher’s reputation, just by being there -- and the publishers know this. If you’re offering a damned good product, you’ll get invitations from every publishing house out there.

Things to take into account when shopping for a Publisher:
• What kind of stuff does this publisher offer? (Will my stuff appeal to their buyers, so that AFTER they buy all the name brands, they’ll buy me too?)
• Do they specialize in one thing over another? (Does my stuff cater to that specialty?)
• Who are the top selling authors for this publishing house? (Can my writing skill compete with theirs?)
• How much traffic does this publisher get? (Does it have a big enough shopper base to ensure frequent sales?)
• Is the contract fair? (When do I get my rights back, in case this Isn’t the right fit?)

The fastest way to answer all your questions about a particular publisher?
-- Visit the Predators & Editors site and look up the publisher you're thinking of doing business with. They have the latest and most up to date info on Publishers and agents. If they're Not trustworthy, P&E will know.

The next best way to check out a publisher?
-- Go to their site. (Every publisher has one, and it's only a Google search away.) Check out that publisher’s top-selling books. Read their Excerpts. Buy one or two and read them. Pay attention to how good the grammar is. Bad Grammar = Poor Editing. Talk to authors published by them. What do they have to say? If something is wrong with the publisher, believe they'll let you know!

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Topic Sex Scenes in Film
Posted 27 Mar 2011 18:46

I HATE the whole "OMG D/s IS HORRIBLE" thing. That's part of the reason I wrote my BDSM books in the first place.

It's why I wrote my BDSM books too.

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 27 Mar 2011 18:42

Forgive me Morgan, my bad all the way.
I could not of come up with a better answer myself. For real, thanks, makes perfect sense. The old ones, really are the old reliables

You're forgiven, sweety.
-- What makes sex hot isn't just what you're doing and who you're doing it with, but WHY you're doing it.

Topic Sex Scenes in Film
Posted 27 Mar 2011 18:10

I totally forgot about The Secretary, but yes, that's an awesome one for the dynamic between the two characters. (And a Dom/sub relationship portrayed positively? WHAT A CONCEPT)

As far as I know, Secretary is the only movie that does this. Every other movie I've seen, including 9 and 1/2 Weeks , as much as I love it, portrays D/s as being unhealthy.

It's painfully obvious that the author of 9 and 1/2 Weeks , Elizabeth McNeill, knew nothing about how D/s actually worked. Then again, that book was first published in 1978. (I have a copy of it. It's only a 40k novella! )

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 27 Mar 2011 17:45

Clarity is your gift, Morgan. That is a perfectly helpful frame within which I can absolutely work. THANK YOU! ~Daniel

Thank you for the fine compliment! I'm glad I could help.

Topic Sex Scenes in Film
Posted 27 Mar 2011 07:52

Yes, I'm once again invading Morgan's forum, this time with some advice of my own...

And this essay is WHY I asked you to invade.
-- So worth it!

I'd like to add the movie 9 & 1/2 Weeks to that list, and even though there's no actual sex in it, and Secretary for the sheer strength of the connection between the two main characters. My crush on James Spader since the 80s is entirely incidental.

Posted 26 Mar 2011 16:40

What’s the difference between

From an exercise on writing Action Scenes...

He bent over, groaning in pain. " Damn Blondie why the Hell did you punch me in the stomach like that?"

The next thing Buffy knew, he had his hands around her ankles and she was dangling over the edge of the railing.
Oopsie ~ this is TELLING! I can see why the author did it. She would have needed to add a few more paragraphs just to describe everything happened, but Action Scenes should be SHOWN not TOLD.

-----Original Message-----
I see that advice a lot, and the odd time I understand it, but not often enough, or how it’s actually done. How do you SHOW that scene above, not tell it? I get the two confused – to my addled brain sometimes showing seems to be telling…and vice versa. Could you give us an idea of how it could look if shown, not told?

The reason this was TELLING was the fact that this author didn’t SHOW us step by step, how Buffy got into that position, she simply TOLD us that it had happened.

When a writer is pressed for word-count and time, Telling happens. In fact, TELLING is perfectly okay in a repeated action, but its good manners to detail that action the first time it appears so the reader has a nice clear picture in their mind of what that action looks like.

SHOWING is about Mind Pictures...
When you write a story, you are making a MOVIE for the reader. Telling is when you plant a cue – rather than illustrating a scene.

He bent over, groaning in pain. "Damn Blondie why the Hell did you punch me in the stomach like that?"

The next thing she knew, <-- This is a cue! ) he had his hands around her ankles and she was dangling over the edge of the railing.

You have to guess what happened from the time he was bent over and groaning in pain to her dangling over the railing. ANY time you have to GUESS how a character did something, you’ve been TOLD, not Shown.

Many writers don’t realize that they are writing CUES instead of Pictures, because that's what they see in a lot published mainstream books: "Monkey See - Monkey Do."

"Well if they can do it - why is it Wrong?"
A LOT of published authors get away with TELLING through Cues, because they are making up for it in some other way: Drama, Dialogue, Atmosphere, Science, Magic... Unfortunately, a lot of new writers miss this.

Case in point, most Romance novels TELL -- a Lot. They don't bother with detailed action of any kind because Romances are NOT being read for their ACTION, they’re being read for their EMOTION, their Drama. Romances as a rule, make up for their lack of Action with detailed emotional Drama -- and the Emotional Drama in a Romance is Very detailed.

On the other hand, a hard-core Sci-Fi has almost no character drama at all. What it does have are a lot of poignant and tragic scenes showing the influence of Science on humanity and Action scenes full of human struggling, if not outright space battles.


If the above scene had been TOLD, it might have looked something like this:

He bent over, groaning in pain. "Damn Blondie why the Hell did you punch me in the stomach like that?"

Buffy grinned and spoke in her sweetest voice. “Maybe because you deserved it?”

Angel looked up with his eyes narrowed. “I deserved it?” His lip curled. “Is that so?” His entire body tensed, straining the seams in his coat.

Uh oh… She took a half-step back.

Angel came from his crouch in a rush of hard hot muscle and barreled into her. Using his momentum, he bear-hugged her in an iron grip around the waist as though she’d been a football player on the opposing team, and shoved her backwards to the wall.

Buffy’s high heels skidded unpleasantly on the stone flags, then the back of her knees hit the wall and she tipped backwards. “Oh shit!” She grabbed onto his coat’s lapels and stared into his face from less than a kiss away.

Angel grinned, showing the curving length of his long incisors. “I deserved it huh?” He shoved.

Buffy tipped back into open space, and squealed in surprised. She knew the fall wouldn’t kill her. She’d survived far worse, but God, it was embarrassing.

With faster than human reflexes, Angel caught her around the ankles.

Buffy found herself dangling over the edge of the railing, with her skirt slipping down toward her waist. She groaned. She just knew his eyes were on her pink cotton panties. She just knew it.

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Topic 10 Second Tip: Stories should make a POINT.
Posted 26 Mar 2011 16:13

10 Second Tip:
Stories should make a POINT.

“The true critic will but demand that the (story’s) design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable…"
-- Edgar Allen Poe

In other words, not only should every character, object, and event in your tale have a reason to be there, the story itself should have a Purpose -- and a Motive.

Think: What are you trying to SAY with your story?
Love Conquers All
Greed makes one Greedier
Love = Insanity
Love doesn't always mean Happiness
Love isn't always Nice
You Reap what you Sow
Destiny is a Bitch
You can't escape Yourself
A Snake will always be a Snake
Sometimes, Love means Letting Go
Sometimes, Love means Giving In
Appetites will find a way to be Filled
Revenge only brings Misery

Most of all...

Only put in what you intend to USE.
Names, places, actions, and events--every single thing in your story should have a reason to be there, whether it's for emotional impact, symbolism, or to take the characters one step closer to the intended climax. Every element you include should have a Purpose.

To test the importance of an element, ask:
* Why this place and not another?
* Why this name and not another?
* Why this action, this speech, and not others--or none at all?

The answers should be:
* To make each scene Memorable in your Readers' minds.
* To illustrate the hidden side of your characters' drives and motives.
* To prepare the characters for their climactic scene.
* To frame and/or offset the point you're trying to make.
* To make your characters come to life on the page.
* To make the End logical.

No matter how short or long, a story should illustrate an idea, a theory, an emotion, or even an argument to the reader. This means everything in your story should be there to do just that -- make your point, even if it's only to deliver the punch-line to a joke.


Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 26 Mar 2011 12:55

Ha! you're just worried cause it's going to be my red riding hood challenge piece! :D meetcha at high noon, Pardner, guns ablazing! ;)

I'm not worried sweety! I'm working on finishing what I'm writing so I can get to writing my version of RRH and meet you there!

Topic Visuwords
Posted 25 Mar 2011 17:54

I have a terrible vocabulary, so I often use thesauruses. I found this website which is quite cool, and allows you to visualize the thesaurus:
Woooow! That is so cool!

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 25 Mar 2011 17:47

ok, sort of putting everything on hold now and writing a one off that sort of puts your lessons into use... wish me luck - i have an idea, and it's not complicated, but i sort of want to write something... beautiful :)

Good luck sweety.
-- Don't push yourself too hard. Creativity works best when you let it Go.

Topic Interior Monologues
Posted 25 Mar 2011 17:45

I wanted to stop by and thank Morgan, since studying the material she has posted I have got exponentially better...
Excellent! I love being helpful.

...sadly if we are to write about what we know I really will not be able to create the subject matter for this site.
If you don't Know something, there's always or Wikipedia? That's what I use. :)
Be glad you didn't start writing when I did - BEFORE the Internet was invented.

Nonetheless, the help has been huge…thanks so much !
You're very welcome.

Topic Writing what you KNOW ~ How I trained myself to have a Photographic Memory.
Posted 25 Mar 2011 17:37

Writing what you KNOW
~ or ~
How I trained myself to have a Photographic Memory.

Shortly after I published my very first story, I was introduced to the phrase: "Write What You Know."

I was horrified.

I was horrified because I was still in high school and living with my Mother in a very small New England town. Other than a few encounters with a couple of ghosts, and what I had looked up in my local library, (keep in mind this was 1980, the Internet hadn't been invented yet,) I knew Nothing . Seriously, I had no personal experience doing Anything.

What the heck was I supposed to write if I only wrote what I knew?

I had yet to learn how to drive a car, but that was okay. I was damned good at riding the bus. However, I still hadn't had my first kiss yet so relationship stories of Any kind were right out. Forget stories that had guns or weapons, though I could use a sling-shot and swung a mean baseball bat. (Don't make me break out my pocket book!) Forget stories with horses in it, though I did know how to feed and train a dog.

I had three younger brothers, so I had some experience with childcare, but having learned my techniques from a sociopathic parent (Not a Joke,) writing from those experiences would have landed that character in the villain slot, pronto. (The scary part was that I was aware of this back then!) I sucked at sports and had no friends, so those kinds of stories were out too.

In short, the sum total of my knowledge was strictly from books. Which was to say, Not Useful toward making a story realistic in even the vaguest sense.

Even worse, I discovered that my memory Leaked. I could remember things long enough to pass a test, but that was as far as it got.

Since moving out of my mom's house wasn't looking too close to happening, experiencing new things had to be put on hold. Instead I started working on my memory.

I tried a number of techniques but what worked for me was a type of Image Association.
-- In short, staring hard at something and then later, Drawing it. Or rather, trying to. I was an okay artist, nothing terrific, believe me, but I noticed right away that if I drew a picture whatever I was trying to remember stayed in my head better. Even doodling in the bottom corner of my notebook worked. The really interesting thing was that the picture didn't have to be related at all to what I was trying to remember! Though it worked better if it was.

Strangely enough, cutting pictures out of magazines worked too, though not nearly as well. I had to really stare at the picture and recite out loud what it was I was trying to remember.

This led to the next step: Recitation.
-- This meant quite literally, staring hard at a scene I wanted to write about later, such as the park during the height of autumn, or a thunderstorm, and describing it out loud -- without writing it down. Just spitting out adjectives that described what I was looking at, or what I was Feeling, such as what the brass handrail in school felt like sliding under my hand while walking down the stairs. After only a couple of tries, it didn't even have to be out loud. Saying it in my head or under my breath worked too.

I never did recall exactly what I said, but I recalled the experience Perfectly. In other words, Sensory Association.

By the way, the Schoolhouse Rock multiplication jingles saved my math grade, seriously. If I sang along with the cartoon, I remembered it. ALL of it. In fact, I still remember them. Recitation + Images.

About a month or two after I started doing all that, the flip-side of those exercises suddenly kicked in. I started Picturing what I was reading while I read it. In other words, I was playing a movie in my head of whatever I was reading. Though it was a bit more than that. My memory added the experiences I'd worked to remember. If the writer mentioned 'forest', my memory automatically added the sound of the wind, bird-calls, the smell of moldering earth, the specific colors of the leaves in sunlight, and the chilly brush of a breeze.

That doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it had one hell of a side effect.

I could remember anything I'd read. That included Text Books. If the text books had pictures it was even easier. I was actually able to remember the names and stories of any historical figure simply by picturing that person's portrait.

However, I was not remembering the Words, only the images I'd seen and the Stories that went with it. This actually worked well when I needed to answer essay questions.

However, my ability to remember things in a list; dates, names, phone numbers, groceries I needed to buy...dropped off the face of the earth. If I didn't have a picture to connect with what I was trying to remember, it left my head almost the moment it went in.

My last two years of high school saw a major lift in my grades in every subject except One: Math. I still suck at math. Numbers simply don't bring up images. I could remember my times tables, (thank you Schoolhouse Rock ,) but that was IT. Geometry was fine because the formulas were all associated with shapes, but Algebra was right out.

One would think that Grammar would have been difficult to remember, but it wasn't. I was using it almost daily in my story notebooks. (When one is writing a story, one NEEDS punctuation to have it make sense to the reader.) Repetition saved me there.

Later on, I finally left home and gathered a great number of wildly varying experiences. I still can't recall all the names of the people I met, but their faces are all engraved on my mind along with everything I experienced down to the weather conditions on the day it happened.

Picture Association and Sensory Association...
-- Those were the keys to how I trained my memory to recall anything I'd seen or done clearly enough to write it on paper. I'm still amazed by how much I haven't forgotten.


Topic Interior Monologues
Posted 25 Mar 2011 11:30

I was just wondering about the proper way to add a characters thoughts into a story written in third person.

THIS I can help you with!
-- There are two types of 'thought' styles used in a story.

Direct thoughts:
-- Internal Dialogue; when the character is actually speaking in his own mind. Because direct thoughts are a form of Dialogue, they're italicized.

Kiba smiled tightly. "I'll be more than happy to carry a tray to Dr. Haruno." And make her eat every bite too.

Indirect thoughts:
-- When the character is thinking, but not having an actual internal dialogue.

Kiba eyed what he could of her firm thighs exposed by her snug shorts and that sweet, sweet ass. His mouth watered while heat began to spiral downward and tighten his pants. Gods... Fired up and spitting mad, the woman was hot . With a groan of pure hunger, Kiba reached down to adjust himself. What he wouldn't give to have all that screaming fury redirected into screaming passion. Clearly, she would break a bed.

Topic Writing Exercise: DESCRIPTION
Posted 24 Mar 2011 21:58

Creative Narrative
A Description Exercise

For this exercise, you will need the movie Sin City . If you don't have it, The Matrix or Equilibrium will do.

WATCH the movie undisturbed from beginning to end. NO INTERRUPTIONS. This is Important!

Watch where the Camera looks. Sin City in particular is a brilliant example of how to describe using pictures. The movie is filmed in black and white with splashes of color here and there only where the viewer's eye needs to be.

When a character is first introduced, LOOK at how the camera starts in Close Focus on the character's face and then pulls back to reveal the character's body, lovingly showing the viewer exactly what the character looks like AND their distinguishing characteristics from top to bottom. THEN the view expands wider to disclose where that character is and what they are doing at that moment.

After those first few moments of sheer View, you get a narrative from the Point of View character -- which may Not be the character the camera is showing you. You get the narrator's opinions, their feelings, their delusions. THAT is how the viewer (the reader) learns about the character.

Once the movie is over, put on some music that fits the movie. (I actually have the soundtracks, to these.) Next! Break out your remote control and Watch The Same Movie AGAIN -- but this time, with the volume OFF.

Sit on your couch and Out Loud, Narrate what you are looking at. Do NOT write anything. Just talk to the TV screen Out Loud and describe -- in detail what you are looking at as though it was a book you were reading.

Describe the Characters.
Describe the Actions.
Describe the Fight Scenes.
Describe the Kisses.
Describe the Backgrounds and Setting
-- including the rooms and weather conditions!

Use your remote control and STOP the scene where you have difficulty describing what you are seeing. Work at it until the words come to you. They don't have to be perfect -- close IS good enough for this exercise.

Do NOT write anything down.

Keep going until the movie is Over.

This should help loosen up a few things in your writing mind -- and give you some strong visuals to write from later.

-- Write a 1000 word Scene that introduces a character of YOURS. Make sure you picture the scene in your mind with the same dramatic camera angles and close-ups the movie and Describe it so that anyone Reading it can clearly see it.

Compare that scene with any introductory scene in a story you've already written and SEE the difference.

Just so you know, this is an exercise I created to make my own writing more Visual. I hope you like it!

Note: You are NOT expected to post your work here! This is NOT a class, you will Not be graded on your efforts.

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 24 Mar 2011 21:42

Thank you Morgan, that is good advice.

I'm glad I could help.

Topic Interior Monologues
Posted 24 Mar 2011 21:32

...I am not sure if I'm technically doing it correctly.
Am I doing it right?

Felix sweety, I don't check other people's work to see if they're ' doing it right ,' nor do I offer opinions on it, also known as critiquing.

I have no problems answering questions on technique, but I will not correct anyone's work. That's a job for an editor or a beta-reader. Beta-readers are people that volunteer to read your stuff and 'check your work' for typos and story continuity. Editors are are people Paid to read your stuff and 'check your work' for typos and story continuity. I am neither -- nor do I wish to be.

If you're looking for a couple of beta-readers, the best way to get some is by advertising on your personal blog and asking point blank: "Would anyone like to Beta-Read my stuff?"

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 24 Mar 2011 16:49

My biggest challenge is introducing tension, pathos, challenges for my characters. The tough stuff they need to face and resolve.

Hey Daniel,
-- " Tension, pathos, challenges ... the tough stuff need to face and resolve " should be introduced the instant your character steps into view -- but subtly through Description.

All human issues; fears, limitations, hopes, and appetites are painted on our bodies in some way shape or form. It's present in our Appearance and in our Body Language. However, a writer's accuracy in portraying such things Visually depends on the writer's level of personal experience of observing such issues and their level of knowledge about basic human psychology.

This is something you can't Fake. In order to pull this off, the writer actually has to Know it to get it right. In this case, Close is NOT 'close enough' because those readers who have experienced these things will know Immediately if the writer is blowing smoke out his ass.

Luckily there are some things that almost everyone has experienced:


-- Addressing those issues is what the story's progress is for, but their introduction ; that the character has such issues, should happen the first moment they step on stage before the reader.
-- The details of those issues; such as what exactly they are and how the character got them, should be exposed little by little throughout the actions and events of the story.
-- The Climactic scene near the very end is where the full extent of those issues are exposed, and where the fatal strike occurs. This Climax is when the issue is finally addressed and dealt with -- because the character literally has no other choice but to face it.
-- The Conclusion, the final closing scene, shows how the character is dealing with the results of their choice.

Sound like fun?

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 21:02

I have trouble with the ending. I think, because I'm a guy, I just want to sleep after sex most of the time...

Ah, so your problem is what to write After the sex scene.
-- Well, my first suggestion is after you've written your sex scene, Take a Nap. :) THEN go back to the beginning of the story and figure out what personal issue the main character had.

A broken heart
A physical limitation
A phobia

Once that issue is addressed, your story is officially done - The End.

Don't have an issue?
-- ADD ONE. You're the Author right? You can change anything you like so Add something interesting and fix it by the end of the sex.

Seriously, the real payoff of any story is the Answer to the main character's issue presented in the beginning, even if their problem is as simple as: "Will she get laid?" Once you've address that issue, you've reached the end of your story.

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 20:36

I find that if I KNOW my characters and the scenario is interesting then the characters tend to tell me where to go as I write them... I think if you INHABIT your characters, and they inhabit you, they can really talk to you and tell you what they're about...

Paradoxically, story characters are REAL people... They need a reason to do what they do. And I like to explain how they think and feel about what they do... Conflicting emotions are intriguing...

Ah... Sounds to me like your characters happen first and the story happens because of their interactions. That's actually a pretty common way to write a story. It's also known as "By the seat of your pants."

I come from the opposite direction. I come up with a story idea (a plot) and then I create my characters to make that story happen. This is also is why my characters don't run amok with me. :)

However, the main thing is, If what you do Works for you -- Keep Doing It!
-- Don't fix what ain't broke.

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 20:25

She never solved my dilemadontknow

Actually, I did. Go back through the entries.
-- You asked about finding new 'research' partners. My answer was: Use the Old ones, just change their names and descriptions in the STORY.

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 20:22

Thanks Morgan, I've already been published.

Congratulations! So what's holding you back from writing another one if that's what your subconscious really wants to do?

In the meantime, I do enjoy the short story format when it comes to the erotica genre in particular, so I will just work on the ruthless idea-editing bit. It definitely seems to get easier with more practice.

Ruthless editing is all well and fine, but what if the story Should be novel-length? Some stories really do need to be long to reveal their true potential. If you already have a publisher, why not just send it to them, then write a fresh short? (My novels make me far better money than my shorts.)

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 20:15

*Whispers* "Morgan Hawke is soooooo smart..." xx SF

Morgan is really Experienced -- in every sense of the word. ;)

Topic POLL: Authors, what do you have the most difficulty Writing?
Posted 23 Mar 2011 17:59

I have the same issue. My latest 'straight' stuff has turned into an 8 to 10 chapter story and it might even progress to more chapters. I find it hard to just tell a short story. I've also tried to edit ruthlessly but I'm never happy with that.

I'm going to give you the same advice I gave Doll.
-- If you really want to write Novel -- WRITE ONE then find a publisher for it. If you honestly feel that your skills aren't ready for publication, Sketch it out as a Draft and and SAVE IT for when you DO have the skills.

Once you get that novel out of your system, you should have no problems returning to writing short again. On the other hand, if you let that sit and FESTER in your subconscious, it could very well infect and inflame everything you write until your creativity flinches away from writing anything at all.

Trust me, I speak from experience.