Forum posts made by morganhawke

Posted 14 Mar 2011 12:48

I know I said some negative things about editors the other day...but, I realize it could be worse... Editor Cat does not look pleased...

It CAN always be worse. Ask Nicola about some of the more...interesting stories she's Rejected sometime. :) Be glad that your eyes never had to suffer the torment hers have.

Brain Bleach is hard to come by.

Topic Writing Erotic HORROR
Posted 14 Mar 2011 12:36

Writing Erotic HORROR
What is Erotic Horror?
-- According to Wikipedia:
Erotic horror, alternately noted as Dark Erotica, is a term applied to works of horror fiction in which sensual or sexual imagery (or descriptions of the physical act of sexual intercourse) are blended with horrific overtones or horror story elements.

In other words:

If Erotica is: They have sex and something happens.
Then Erotic Horror is: They know exactly what will happen if they have sex, and do it anyway .

Believe it or not, the basic principal is actually a left-over from the antique Victorian view of "If you have Sex, something bad will happen to you." Something still promoted in today's horror flicks, especially those featuring teens.

Erotic Horror takes it one step further with: Sex = Death , and occasionally, Death = Sex .

Most Common Plotlines:
The new girlfriend is a real monster.
-- Commonly foreshadowed by the fact that none of his family or friends likes her. The male protagonist then ignores all warnings to meet her in some deserted and blatantly creepy spot. They have sex and her true monstrosity is finally revealed.

This ends in one of two ways:
- He dies in her embrace.
- He kills her in self defense, and regrets it

Far less often do you see the opposite:

The new boyfriend is a real monster.
-- In this style of story, the family usually approves as do her friends, while the heroine is the one with all the doubts. Eventually she gives in to family and peer pressure and goes on a date with this guy. By the end of the date, she decides he's not so bad after all. He then takes her to some deserted and blatantly creepy spot. They have sex and his true monstrosity is finally revealed.

This ends in one of two ways:
- She dies in his embrace.
- She kills him in self defense, and resents* it.

Commonly used in M/M or F/F (Lesbian or Gay) stories...
The new Best Friend is a real monster.
-- None of their friends or family knows about the New Friend the protagonist is seeing because the protagonist is actively hiding or in denial about the fascinating, affectionate, and utterly fearless new Friend. The protagonist eventually agrees to meet the Friend in some deserted and blatantly creepy spot. The protagonist is seduced into sex and the Friend's true monstrosity is finally revealed.

This ends in one of two ways:
- The Protagonist dies in their lover's embrace.
- The Protagonist kills their lover in self defense, and actively tries to forget it ever happened.

The new Lover is a real monster to everyone except their Beloved.
-- In this style of story, the protagonist shacks up with their new love and realizes that their love is hiding some kind of secret. Meanwhile, the people around them are disappearing or dying. Completely ignoring the fact that people are dropping like flies round their love, the protagonist begins to suspect that their beloved is cheating on them. The protagonist follows their beloved and witnesses their lover seducing someone and then killing them in a particularly nasty way. Discovered, the beloved confesses their monstrosity and immediately goes all out to seduce their beloved.

This ends in one of Five ways:
- The protagonist willingly dies in their beloved's embrace.
- The Female protagonist kills their beloved in self defense, and resents * it.
- The Male protagonist kills their beloved in self defense, and regrets it.
- The protagonist kills their beloved to save their monstrous lover from suffering any more , and then commits suicide to join them.
- The protagonist kills their beloved to save their monstrous lover from suffering any more , and then walks off into the morning light.

The new Lover convinces their Beloved to become a real monster.
-- In this style of story, the protagonist shacks up with their new love who then refuses to have sex with the protagonist until they prove their love by killing someone and bringing back a trophy. Sometimes it's an object, but usually it's a body part. Eventually, the protagonist realizes that they have become a mass-murderer, regrets what they've become and finally begins to question their lover's sanity.

This ends in one of two ways:
- The Male protagonist snaps and kills their beloved in a mad sexual frenzy, then commits suicide.
- The Female protagonist kills their beloved lovingly and then commits suicide.

In short, Erotic Horror is when two lovers have sex and death is either the result , or the cause .

Occasionally you'll see a story where two lovers have sex and then a monster comes out of nowhere and kills one or both of them. This kind of story is not true Erotic Horror – it's ordinary Horror.

What's the difference?

In any Erotic story, the Erotic MUST turn the plot. In other words, Sex must make the story happen . If something else makes the story happen; such as the sudden appearance of a monster, then it's not an Erotic story. It's just a Monster story -- a Horror story.

In order to be a true Erotic Horror, both the Sex AND Death must turn the plot.
However, a simple 'raped to death' story isn't Erotic Horror either. That's just a Snuff tale. To be an Erotic Horror, the protagonist needs to be willing, eager, and enjoying the sex in order to be Erotic with Death as the result or the cause of the Sex.

In other words, no matter how many sex scenes you toss into a Horror story, if the sex is not directly related to the horror as the cause or result , then what you have is a plain ordinary Horror story with a few extra scenes.

How can you tell if you've written an Erotic Horror?
If you can cut out the Erotic scenes without hurting the main Horror plotline – you did it WRONG.
If you can cut out the Horror scenes without hurting the main Erotica plotline – you did it WRONG.
If cutting out the Horror scenes or the Erotic scenes ruins the story – you did it RIGHT.

-----Original Message-----
"If when sex=death, or vice-versa, it's Erotic Horror, what do you call when it's basically the same thing but the bad stuff that happens isn't death?"

You've forgotten something a writer should never forget.

Death isn't always Physical.
-- The death of one's Career, Artistic skill, a life-long Goal, or Dream can be far more devastating than merely being killed. Being abandoned by one's love, or discovering that your life-long love never loved you in return are also forms of death. The destruction of one's character; when an honest man becomes a criminal or a killer is also a form of Death. Anytime a path in one's life closes forever Death has occurred.

In many of these cases, suicide is what comes After. They'd died, but their body refused to stop functioning, so they kill themselves to finish the job. Truthfully though, suicide is the most common form of giving up and refusing to 'play the game' anymore. "If I can't win, I'm quitting."

However to be accepted as Erotic Horror, the story also needs to have traditional Horror elements in it. Not because these other forms of death aren't horrific, but because it's what the Readers and Publishers expect when you use the genre label: "Erotic Horror ."

Most people prefer to use a physical death in their Erotic Horror because it's far easier than writing an Emotional, Character, or Spiritual death. Living Death themes make very powerful stories, but they tend to be emotionally hard on the author. It takes a certain level of personal experience to write a downward spiral with any effectiveness. This is where the phrase: "Bleeding onto the page," comes from.

Another powerful Death theme is the Reverse -- Rebirth. The story begins with a character that has already 'died' who learns to live again. This is no easier to write because it takes the same level of experience, but since the spiral is Upward, rather than Downward, writing it is not nearly as hard on the author.

In Conclusion...
Tossing a random sex scene into a Horror story will not give you an Erotic Horror story. All that does is make a Horror story with erotic bits. To write a true Erotic Horror, both Death and Sex must carry equal weight in the plot line. Death and Sex must both make the story happen, preferably with one the result of the other: Sex = Death or Death = Sex.

* Note: Why does the female protagonist typically Resent losing their lover while the male protagonist typically Regrets losing their lover?

Basic psychology. Males have a tendency to regret losing anything they found pleasurable, where females tend to resent having made a bad choice (in lovers). In the case of two male lovers, Denial is the normal route; " That never happened, " because most men hate to admit they made a mistake. However, as the author, you are entitled to write your character's feelings any way you like. Those were merely what I found in the Erotic Horror stories I read.


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 Writing Serial & Series Fiction
Posted 13 Mar 2011 20:13

just throw in the Lucky Charms leprachaun and i think you have something there.

Especially if Lucky sees Trixie as his Lucky Charm. Rivals!

Topic Writing Serial & Series Fiction
Posted 13 Mar 2011 19:31

Did you say something about Cereal Fiction??? I had this great story idea where Tony The Tiger tries to pick up the Trix Rabbit... I really didn't think it was appropriate for Lush...but, now I might reconsider...

It could happen? You could put it in with Celebrities.

Topic Writing Serial & Series Fiction
Posted 13 Mar 2011 12:26

Writing Serial & Series Fiction
~ Not just another Novel idea ~

A Serial Story is Not a chopped-up Novel!
I hear it time and time again: "If the story is too big, why don't you just cut it up into a Series or Serial?"

You can't just cut a novel-type Story into pieces to make a series, or use the chapters to serialize it. A true serial "episode" is its own Complete Story within a larger story. A Serial tale is NOT a chapter with book cover – and neither are Series books.

Individual Stories?
The first thing any writer learns is: “A story must have a Beginning, a Middle and an End”. EACH Serial and Series chapters, or episodes, must have a Beginning, a Middle, and an End, too!

Why? To interest New Readers.

Professionally published Series books and Serial episodes, whether it's a TV program, a set of novels, or a comic book series are EACH written as whole stories because a whole story is more likely to catch and hold the attention of new readers or viewers than a random hunk of story from the middle of a longer work.

The difference between a Story and a Serial is: Plot Structure

A Story has One main plotline.
A typical novel-type story has ONE Plot (action-driven) Arc -- the chain of events that happen while the characters make other plans -- and One Character (emotion-driven) Arc -- what the characters' are feeling about what's happening to them -- for each of the main characters: the Proponent, (the main character) the Antagonist, (the villain) and the Ally (love-interest or buddy). The overall story usually focuses on one main character's story while hinting at the other main characters' stories.

A novel typically has either two plot/character arcs: one for the Proponent, (the main character,) and one for the Ally, (the buddy or love-interest,) or Three: One for the Proponent, one for the Ally, and one for the Antagonist . Traditionally, the main plotline focuses on the Proponent and uses strictly their viewpoint. I have, however, read some excellent books that focused on the viewpoint of the Ally or the Antagonist.

Some authors have more than three main characters, (Proponent, Ally, Antagonist) and strong subplots for secondary characters in addition to the main characters, but their stories are HUGE.

Stephen King typically has one over-all plotline and separate plot/character arcs for at least three characters in each of his books, which amounts to a whole story for each character. He simply alternates between characters at chapter breaks. This of course, increases the size of the story. Instead of one main story, Mr. King has three, or more, smaller stories all connected by the same events (plot arc) under one cover. By the way, Mr. King used to write Serials!

A Serialized Story has, at least, TWO whole plot-lines happening at any given time - Plus a Story.
A Comic book series, a TV series, and an Anime series are traditionally divided by progressive Seasons with 12 to 24 episodes per (seasonal) plotline. Each new issue or episode opens with an intro to all the main characters (usually done via the credits,) then focuses briefly on that episode's protagonist in the opening sequence right before the commercial.

The story then dives into the action, which is either a piece of one of the subplots (with hints at the over-all plot,) or a piece of the overall plot (with hints at one - or more - of the sub-plots). Ideally, each character in a serial including the villain, has their own subplot story going on during the main plot. Even so, each individual episode is an entire story all by itself that dovetails into every other episodic plot arc making a single cohesive whole.

The trick to doing lots of serial episodes is by switching the focus of an episode to another main character , so that each has a chance to tell their own story -- one whole episode focusing on that one character.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had PLENTY of characters to play with, and then some. Buffy had her Watcher, Angel, Willow and Xander, just to scratch the surface. Spike, the main villain, had Drusilla or some other support vampire.

In the old 1960's Batman TV series, Batman occasionally showed Robin's, Alfred's, Commissioner Gorden's and Batgirl's point of view. Batman’s weekly villain also got at least one whole episode too, (usually the episode that began an arc.) In addition, the Villain always had at least one close partner that eventually betrayed them.

The cast of the manga series Naruto is GIGANTIC. Typical of most manga series, that series is cut into even smaller pieces with one chapter spanning 3 to 48 episodes per Chapter plus 3 to 24 Chapters per Arc. With 4 to 6 major point-of-view characters including the villain , plus the viewpoint of one or two of the support characters that are seen fairly regularly -- that's a LOT of Story.

Why all the Extra Characters?
The longer a series runs, the more ‘story’ is needed, so more characters are added.

A typical TV series starts out with 4 to 6 major good guys plus the main character, and 1 major bad guy with other minor good-guys and bad-guys wandering through the main plotline. The last episode in the season brings all the main characters together for one big, final climactic scene. A few characters are lost in the finale and the next season starts with those characters replaced by new characters.

Each successive season typically adds more characters plus changing the situations of some of the old ones.

Why? Because they need more story to keep the serial going.

Serial verses Series
The Serial and the Series share most of the same characteristics, with one major difference – PLOT CONCLUSION.

A Series completes ALL the subplots featured in that one book. A Serial does not. A Serial completes ONE major plotline, while hinting at others.

Typical Series Novel
MAIN PLOT Question 1
MAIN PLOT Question 2
MAIN PLOT Question 3
SUBPLOT Question 1
MAIN PLOT Question 4
MAIN PLOT Question 5
SUBPLOT Question 2
MAIN PLOT Question 6

Typical Serial Episode
MAIN PLOT Question 1
MAIN PLOT Question 2
MAIN PLOT Question 3
SUBPLOT Question 1
MAIN PLOT Question 4
MAIN PLOT Question 5
SUBPLOT Question 2
MAIN PLOT Question 6
SUBPLOT ANSWER 1 or SUBPLOT Question 3 -- leading (cliff-hanging) into the next installment... (Remember - SUBPLOT Question 2 is STILL Unanswered!)

TV Series...or are they?
The “ Babylon 5 " series had one massive over-all plot arc divided into seasonal plot arcs, divided into individual but connecting episodes that all added up to One Whole Story. “ Babylon 5 " was a true Serial.

" FarScape " had a very thin master plot arc with strong seasonal plot arcs made up of episodes that added up to one Seasonal Story. " FarScape " was a series of serials.

The original " Star Trek " TV series did not have an over-all plot arc of any kind, merely episodes that could be viewed in any random order. " Star Trek " was a true series.

" Star Trek-Next Generation " had thin seasonal plot arcs with the occasional story that was more than one episode long. " ST-Next Gen " was a series with a few serialized episodes.

Each episode for ALL of these TV programs was a Complete Individual Story.

" No, you Can't just cut a Story into a Serial! "
In order to create a serialized novel, the story must be crafted to be a serial from the beginning.

~ Each episode should be an individual story with a beginning, a middle, and an end under a single overall plotline to hold it together.
~ Each episode can represent a separate adventure for your main character (like a comic book) or be a separate adventure that focuses on any one of your characters (like a TV or Anime series), but each installment must be an entire story all by themselves.
~ To tie the episodes together into a cohesive whole, each successive episode should either answer a Master Plot question - or answer an earlier Master Plot question. The key here is subtlety.
~ To wrap up a season or the entire series, the serial climax brings all the characters together then ends with a final episode where the main character deals with the main villain in a grand finale.

The Plot - Thins: (In Short)
A Novel-type Story
- One whole story with one cast of characters.

A Series
- A group of complete full-length stand-alone stories (novels) all in the same universe with one (related or unrelated) cast of characters per story.

A Serial
- Lots of stories all related to each other that create one big (ongoing) story. A serial normally has one main cast of characters, though the cast tends to grow as the serial continues from season to season. A long-running serial is often divided into "seasonal" plot arcs.

In Conclusion …
The plot arc for a single title novel just isn't complex enough to be cut into a serial without major work. An ordinary novel just doesn’t have what it takes, plot-wise, to live up to a serial’s standards.

Keep in mind this is how the Professionals do it. Those of you who are Not professional are free to write as you please.


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: "What about your Readers?"
Posted 13 Mar 2011 12:03

10 Second Tip:
"What about your Readers?"

As writers and artists, all too often we focus so much of our energy on Creating that we forget about the impact it will have on the people who will See it.

Consider: How do we want people to FEEL after they experience our work?

That's why people read stories, view art, and even watch movies--for the Feelings it gives them.

"I couldn't care less about the reader. I'm writing this story strictly for myself!"
-- Oh, really ? Then why are you posting it in a public place where people can find it? When "I" write strictly for me, I certainly don't post it where other people will see it--not even on my private, friends-only Live Journal. No one sees it but me.

Tell the truth and shame the devil.
-- If you're posting your work where others can see it--even if it's merely a tiny private story site like Y! Gallery or Hentai Foundry , CLEARLY you want other people to see your work and hopefully, like it. Which means that during the creative process , you really ought to consider what you want your readers to feel when they're done reading it:

Touched - tears of joy
Poignant - tears of heartache

To quote Edgar Allen Poe:
“In the whole composition there should be no word written , of which the tendency , direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design . And by such means, with such care and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction.”


Topic The Non-Verbal Thesaurus
Posted 12 Mar 2011 14:37

I'll keep that in mind...btw, I agree with everything you say...icon_smile


Topic The Non-Verbal Thesaurus
Posted 12 Mar 2011 14:34

Hmmm...I think I would take the fact that they were pointing a gun at me as a cue that they were not in a cheerful mood...

I can think of plenty of people I'd be very happy to point a gun at -- and pull the trigger. But then, I tend to be a bit on bloodthirsty side.

Topic The Non-Verbal Thesaurus
Posted 12 Mar 2011 13:13

Ah yes, the old non-verbal cues to show picking up that gun on the mantelpiece from Chapter 1 and firing it in Chapter 3... That's always pretty convincing...

Perhaps, but what if the one holding the gun is smiling and laughing? Could you still call that anger?

Topic The Non-Verbal Thesaurus
Posted 12 Mar 2011 10:04

The NonVerbal Thesaurus

Not spoken > Body Language.

Latin thesaurus, treasury, from Greek thesauros.
n. pl. the•sau•ri (-sôri) or the•sau•rus•es
1. A book of synonyms, often including related and contrasting words and antonyms.
2. A book of selected words or concepts, such as a specialized vocabulary of a particular field.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009.

Dialogue is VISUAL -- Not just a bunch of words.
Watch the average conversation between two people. 90% of that conversation isn't in what's Spoken , it's in what they are DOING while they are speaking. It's in their Body Language . Body-language cues in your story alert the reader by SHOWING them what is going on in a character’s head without Telling them, and without resorting to using the most often repeated word in fiction: said .

"I love you too." She raised her balled fist and smiled with bared teeth. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.” She thrust up her middle finger.

How to use this List.
DON'T try to copy-paste any of this directly into your story! While the terms listed are accurate, they're also Scientific. It's up to you to swap out the scientific terms for more fitting literary phrases to suit your story.

She was angry. "How dare you...?"

Body language cue:
a. Jaws tensed to a biting position; “I’m going to bite you!”

She clenched her jaw, grinding her teeth. "How dare you...?"

Got it?

A Writer's Cheat-Sheet to BODY LANGUAGE CUES
KEY: The gesture; the meaning behind the gesture.
Annoyance, Resentment, Rage
a. Jaws tensed to a biting position; “I’m going to bite you!”
b. Chest expansion, squaring of shoulders, and/or hands-on-hips; “I’m bigger than you.”
c. Cut-off and head-jerk cues; “No. I don’t want that.”
d. Hand-behind-head / hand-above-head. “I may or may not strike you.”
e. Fists, palm-down beating gestures. “I will strike you!”
f. Frowning and tense-mouth expressions; “Don’t make me bite you.”
g. Growling voice tones; “Consider me a threat.”
h. Staring; “I consider you a threat.”
I. Gaze avoidance; the head is turned fully away to one side; “Run while I am not looking and I will not attack you.”
Revulsion, Loathing, Nausea
a. Curled upper lip, a retracted upper lip, and mouth movements. "I feel like vomiting."
b. Digestive sounds of revulsion. Guttural sounds ("ach" or "ugh"); "I AM going to vomit!"
c. Narrowed or partly closed eyes; “I don't want to see that!”
d. Lowered brows of the frown face. "I don't want to smell that!"
e. Backward head-jerks and side-to-side head-shakes. “I don't want to taste that!”
f. Visible protrusions of the tongue. “I can see that it tastes bad.”
Anxiety, Apprehension, Dread
a. Angling body away; “Don’t touch me.”
b. Release of underarm scent; “Go away! I am unappealing! I stink!”
c. Increase in breathing rate. "I'm going to run away!"
d. Trembling and/or chattering teeth. "I want to run away!"
e. Crouching. “Don’t hurt me!”
f. Crying. “I’m hurt enough!”
g. Displacement gestures; “How did THIS happen?”
h. Fast eye-blink rate. “I don’t believe what I'm seeing!”
i. Fear grin. “I’m friendly! Honest!”
j. Widely opened flashbulb eyes. “I can’t believe this!”
k. Unconscious escape motions designed to remove a body part, or parts, from danger (e.g., flexing the neck to lower and protect the head). "Don't hit me!"
l. Freeze reactions; “Am I in danger?”
m. Hair-bristling; “I feel danger!”
n. Accelerated heart rate. "I'm getting ready to run away!"
o. Tightened shoulder muscle tension; “It's going to hit me!”
p. Screaming; “Don’t touch me!”
q. Squirm cues; “Let go of me.”
r. Staring eyes with wide-dilated pupils; “How much danger am I in?”
s. Sweaty palms. "I don't wanna touch that!"
t. Tense-mouth. “Don’t make me bite you.”
u. Throat-clearing. “I want to vomit.”
v. Audibly tense tone-of-voice, either low and close to a growl, "I'm warning you..." or high to present a non-threatening sound. "I'm not a threat!"
w. Yawning. “I have no fangs, see? I’m not a predator!”
Contentment, Well-being, Joy
a. Laugh or smile
b. Tears; “I am overwhelmed.”

Unlike most other facial signs of emotion, the smile is subject to learning and conscious control. In the U.S., Japan, and many other societies, children are taught to smile on purpose, e.g., in a courteous greeting, whether or not they actually feel happy. A true (i.e., involuntary) smile, crinkles the skin around the outside corners of our eyes, forming "crow's feet" or smiling eyes.
Sorrow, Unhappiness, Depression, Gloom
a. Bowing postures; “I’m terribly sorry.”
b. Cry face and lip-pout; “Please don't hurt me anymore.”
c. Gazing-down; “I am not a challenge.”
d. Slumped flexed-forward posture of the shoulders; “I give up.”
e. Audible sigh; “I give up.”
f. Compressed lips; “No, I don’t want that.”

The facial features constrict as if to seal-off contact with the outside world. In acute sadness, muscles of the throat constrict and repeated swallowing occurs, the eyes close tightly, and then tears.
Indecision, Misgiving, Doubt
a. Involuntary sideward eye movements; “Where is the danger coming from?”
b. Self-touching gestures; “Am I still in one piece?”
c. Frown; “I don’t want that…”
d. Hand-behind-head; “I don’t like it.”
e. Side-to-side head-shakes “No.”
f. Sideward head-tilts; “I don’t want that…”
g. Lip-pout, lip-purse, and tense-mouth expressions “That looks like it tastes bad.”
h. Palm-up gestures; “I surrender.”
i. Shoulder-shrug; “Don’t touch me.”

Men will rub their chins with their hand, tug at the lobes of their ears, or rub their forehead or cheeks or back of the neck, in reaction to the increased tension. Male college students express uneasiness by changing their sitting posture to a more direct body orientation. “I’m going to defend myself.”

Women will put a finger on their lower front teeth with the mouth slightly open or pose a finger under the chin. “See? I have no fangs, I am not a predator.” Female college students show uneasiness by sitting still and arm-crossing. “Don't touch me.”
Acknowledgment, Compliance, Surrender
a. Turning away “No thank you.”
b. body-bend, body-shift, and bowing “Please don’t…”
c. displacement cues “How did THIS happen?”
d. facial flushing; Blood rushing to enhance the senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell. ; Blood rushing to enhance the senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell.
e. freeze reactions “Am I in danger?”
f. gaze-down; “I am not a threat.”
g. give-way; “I will not challenge you.”
h. head-tilt-side; “Don’t…”
i. Mimic of superior’s body movements “I will not challenge you.”
j. laughing; “I will not challenge you.”
k. palms-up; “I surrender.”
l. exaggerated personal distance; “Don’t touch me.”
m. pigeon toes; “I can't chase you, I am not a threat.”
n. shoulder-shrugging; “Don’t touch me.”
o. shyness; “Don’t notice me.”
p. difficulty gazing directly at, or cross lines of sight with, a dominant individual. "I don't want to challenge you."
q. higher vocal pitch "I'm weak, and helpless."
r. yawning; “No fangs, see? I am not a threat.”

(Note the considerable overlap between expressions of submission and fear.)
Influence, Power, Control
a. Eyebrow raise; “Are you challenging me?”
b. Hands-on-hips posture; “I’m ready for battle.”
c. Head-tilt-back; “I dare you to bite me.”
d. Palm-down gesture; “Do I need to strike you?”
e. Swagger walk; “I’m stronger than you.”
f. Table-slap; “I will strike you!”
g. Lower tone of voice, close to a growl. "Don't make me bite you."
h. Wedge-shaped Chest expansion, squaring of shoulders; “I’m bigger than you.”
i. Direct stare; “I consider you a threat.”
j. Looming with chin down; “I will bite you.”

Aggressive behaviors include the head brought forward toward another person, chin out and pushed forward, wrinkled skin on the bridge of the nose, and a sharp movement of the head towards the other person, as though in preparation to bite.

The Business Suit
Built-in Aggression
The business suit allows a powerful, influential ‘wedge-like’ silhouette for business and public affairs.

Exaggerated Chest expansion, squaring of shoulders Strength cues are tailored into every Brooks Brothers ® suit. The coat's squared shoulders exaggerate the size and strength of the upright torso. Flaring upward and outward, lapels enhance the illusion of primate pectoral strength. Dropped to fingertip level, the jacket's hemline visually enlarges the upper body to gorilla-like proportions. Pads and epaulets cover inadvertent shrugs and slips of the shoulder blades, to mask feelings of submission or uncertainty in the boardroom--or on the battlefield.
Affection, Devotion, Attachment
a. Physical contact, including hugs and kisses. "I like you."
b. Increased breathing rate; “I want to smell you.”
c. Courtship behavior; “I want to make love to you.”
d. Direct gaze with wide pupils; “I find you pleasing to look at.”
e. Facial flushing; blood rushing to enhance the senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell.
f. Head-tilt-side; “Do I have your attention?”
g. Increased heart rate; to enhance the senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell.
h. Mimic of behavior and/or appearance; “We make a set, we belong together.”
i. Softened tone of voice; “If you want to hear what I say, come closer.”
j. Closing personal distance; "I want to touch you."

Summary of common Facial Cues.
1. Nose:
a) nostril flare; "Oh that scent!" (arousal, rivalry)
b) nose wrinkle; (disgust)

2. Lips:
a) grin (happiness, friendship, contentment)
b) grimace (fear)
c) lip-compression (anger, emotion, frustration)
d) canine snarl (disgust)
e) lip-pout (sadness, submission, uncertainty)
f) lip-purse (disagree)
g) sneer (contempt)

3. Brows:
a) frown (anger, sadness, concentration)
b) brow-raise (intensity)

4. Tongue:
tongue-show (dislike, disagree)

5. Eyelids:
a) flashbulb eyes (surprise)
b) widened (excitement, surprise)
c) narrowed (threat, disagreement)
d) fast-blink (arousal)
e) normal-blink (relaxed)

6. Eyes:
a) big pupils (arousal, fight-or-flight)
b) small pupils (rest-and-digest)
c) direct-gaze (affiliate, threaten)
d) gaze cut-off (dislike, disagree)
e) gaze-down (submission, deception)
f) CLEMS* (thought processing) This is an acronym for "Conjugate Lateral Eye Movement." When the eyes move sideward (to the right or left) in response to a question. Rightward movement is associated with symbolic thinking, or Memory, (what we KNOW,) while Leftward Movement is associated with visual thinking, or Creativity, (what we INVENT).

In conclusion...
-- Don't just SAY it. SHOW IT!
Skip the dialogue " he said / she said " tags altogether by using Body-language cues and ACTIONS to SHOW what the characters mean when they say: "I love you."

“I love you too.” She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She dropped her chin and pouted. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She glared straight at him. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She turned away and wiped the tear from her cheek. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
"I love you too." She raised her balled fist and smiled with bared teeth. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.” She thrust up her middle finger.


The Center for Nonverbal Studies (CNS):

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 Plot Devices: Deus Ex Machina or Chekhov's Gun?
Posted 11 Mar 2011 06:46

Plot Devices:
Deus Ex Machina
Chekhov's Gun?

----Original Message----
" What are your thoughts on Good Deus Ex Machinas? I find them hard to pull off realistically in a plot ." -- Puzzled Writer

A Deus Ex Machina is when the Hero doesn't find the solution to the story's problem. The solution is handed to them, or taken care of, by someone or something far more powerful.

From TV Tropes :
A Deus Ex Machina is an outside force that solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in an extremely unlikely (and, usually, anticlimactic) way. If the secret documents are in Russian, one of the spies suddenly reveals that they learned the language. If the writers have just lost funding, a millionaire suddenly arrives, announces an interest in their movie, and offers all the finances they need to make it. If The Hero is dangling at the edge of a cliff with a villain stepping on his fingers, a flying robot suddenly appears to save him.

The term is Latin for god out of the machine , and has its origins in Greek theater. It refers to situations in which a crane ( machine ) was used to lower actors or statues playing a god or gods ( deus ) onto the stage to set things right. It has since come to be used as a general term for any event in which a seemingly fatal plot twist is resolved by an event never foreshadowed or set up.

Good Deus Ex Machina only happen when they've been set up to happen all along and were simply overlooked--which means they're not really Deus Ex Machina ...

--They're actually a Chekhov's Gun .

"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
— Playwright Anton Chekhov (From S. Shchukin, Memoirs. 1911.)

Thornton Reed: "Take this, Dag."
Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. : "What is it?"
Thornton Reed : "Something that might come in handy."
— Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, "Scotch Mist"

"Honestly, what kind of situation would require the use of a pair of fake arms and a remote-controlled wheelchair? Only, I imagine, a completely ludicrous one!"
— Father Ted

At the beginning of the horror flick, the sheriff says he's gonna cruise by later that night to keep an eye on the troubled teen watching over the huge creepy mansion--because said teen is known for painting Graffiti.

Back in the big empty house, the radio and the TV blast out "Crazed Killer on the Loose in our area! Be on the look out...! News at Eleven."

Creeped out, the kid calls a few of his friends over to keep him company.

His friends try to get him drunk enough to graffiti the house.

Eventually, the kid decides, "Why the hell not?"

Right at that moment the monster strikes! It terrorizes the troubled teen and kills off his friends. Blood! Guts! Mayhem! Screaming...!

Finally, the monster corners the kid on the roof with no place else to go.

Out of nowhere, a police helicopter shows up to rescue the kid.

-- Deus Ex Machina ?

The copter door swings open and it's the sheriff. He wasn't just keeping an eye on the kid, he was also watching out for the crazed killer that had been all over the news for days.

-- NOT a Deus Ex Machina -- a Chekhov's Gun ! This was set up to happen from the beginning. However, this works even better if....

Before the kid can get up on the copter, the monster finds a way to drag the helicopter down from the sky.

With the judicious use of a can of spray paint and a lighter, the monster's eyeballs are fried goo. The kid makes his escape straight into the REST of the cops heading up the road.

The cops shoot down the crazed killer and the kid goes on National Television saying how Graffiti saved his life. The End

An example of a Chekhov's Gun that LOOKS like a Deus Ex Machina can be found in the closing scene to the video game Final Fantasy VII where the heroes tried everything to save the world, but failed. Suddenly, the world saved itself using the Life-stream--the power that had been the focus of the story's main problem since the story's opening. This Deus Ex Machina power had been there from the very beginning, yet had been overlooked making it in fact, a Chekhov's Gun .

However, an even better ending came with the sequel game Dirge of Cerberus , where one of the least understood characters in the Final Fantasy VII cast proved to have had a monumental power sleeping inside him all along--that was again, overlooked.

Getting it on Paper...
If you really want to use a Chekhov's Gun , it helps to think of a story as a Circle. It should End where it Began with the main problem at the beginning of the story being the last problem solved. This means you need to have the Solution to that main problem present at the beginning of the story--preferably in the opening scene, but discounted, or not thought of as anything special.

By the way, most Fairy Tales and Fables tend to have a Circular plot pattern -- ending where they began.


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 13 Hours - The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
Posted 10 Mar 2011 11:10

... laptops slung low on their hip, their typing fingers itching for the strike of the clock... "This town's not big enough for the both of us, parnder. Mind taking your little story outside and settling this mano a mano?" *giggles*

-- The writers all standing in a circle, eyeing each other with sweat dripping down their brows. Fingers at the ready...

Topic 13 Hours - The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
Posted 10 Mar 2011 10:22

oh, so true! there are a pair of stories, one of Riding Hood, and the other of Goldilocks here about that are wonderful, and yet, i would have written them differently - which is good, since Red's tale is one that i think EVERYone needs to tackle at some point. Ok, off to plot out Jack and the Beanstalk now :)

You know, that would make an interesting writing challenge.
-- Have everyone write their interpretation of One particular fairy tale.

Topic 13 Hours - The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
Posted 10 Mar 2011 09:23

...One of these days I intend to do an erotic fairy tale collection...

i'm torn between encouraging you, since i'd love to read it, and throwing a pout, seeing as how i've already staked that out! lol - i guess there's room for more, though :)

No two writers think or imagine alike.
-- I can guarantee that even if the two of us write the same fairy tale, both stories would be completely and utterly different.

Topic 13 Hours - The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
Posted 10 Mar 2011 09:10

Excellent article once again Morgan =d>
Thank you!
-- One of these days I intend to do an erotic fairy tale collection. That's actually where the base research for this essay came from.

Topic New writer's resources forum section added - Morgan Hawke's writing tips and advice
Posted 10 Mar 2011 02:11

hmmmm Just noticed something new, a first to be more exact! :-" Wear it with pride, you deserve it. notworthy Big Hugs

Thank you. I will. ;)

Topic Plot Devices: The Murphy's Law Method
Posted 10 Mar 2011 01:27

Plot Devices:
The Murphy's Law Method
" What Can go Wrong SHOULD go Wrong ."

If you want an easy way to plot out a story that your readers can't guess the end to by the fourth chapter, then THIS is the method for you!

Basically, you begin with a character and something they desire. They go after their desire which immediately sparks complications which become a Problem that your character has to solve.

Once the character applies their chosen Solution to their Problem, Murphy's Law kicks in. The Solution triggers yet another problem.

This pattern continues--Problem > Solution > Problem--so on and so forth until All the problems are solved and your character either reaches their goal, or achieves an even better one--or dies.

This method is extremely effective when plotting out Adventure stories of any kind. In fact, Van Hellsing, National Treasure, Inkheart, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider , the James Bond movies, most RP video games, and almost all Horror stories and films follow this pattern.

Murphy's Law Adventures
Basically, the story begins with a Goal. Our hero goes after said goal which spawns a problem. Once our hero figures out a solution and gains the goal, the worst possible thing (or person) happens to snatch that victory right out of their hands.

This forces our hero to figure out a new solution to regain their goal, which delivers yet another problem--a worse problem. They find a solution to that problem and achieve said goal only to have Murphy's Law strike again to snatch their victory away, plus present them with a new and even worse problem to solve.

This is also known as " Impressive Failure ".

from: Screenwriting Column 08, by Terry Rossio

Consider Raisers of the Lost Ark . Indiana Jones is perhaps the greatest action hero in the history of the movies, and in his debut film he flat-out fails from beginning to end.

• He loses the golden idol.
• Marian is kidnapped and he's unable to rescue her.
• He finds the Ark, but it is immediately taken.
• His bluff to destroy the Ark is called, and he gets recaptured.
• He can't even look upon the Ark when it is opened.
• And the government ends up with his long sought-after and much suffered-for prize.

This guy's an action hero ?

Yup, because he fails so damn impressively from start to finish. Indy fails so well in fact, the audience is impressed as hell, and hardly aware of the fact that he's failing. The defeats are just setbacks that create more opportunities for heroism. As an added benefit, Indy wins the audience's sympathy -- the poor guy's trying so hard, you can't help but root for him.

In the Murphy's Law method, Impressive Failure happens over and over until the very end of the story where our hero is completely out of solutions--except the one thing they really, really don't want to do. This one last thing solves everything--usually with a casualty--and the story ends on an ironic note.

Sound like fun?

Murphy's Law Romance
The Murphy's Law Method is also surprisingly effective when plotting out an Angsty Romance!

Example: Romeo & Juliet
Set Up: Once upon a time, a boy and girl fell in love.
The Goal: Each other.

Problem: Their parents hated each other, and none of their friends liked the others' friends. No one approved--in fact, it was forbidden for them to see each other. (Insert Lover's Angst.)

Solution: Secret marriage

Next Problem: Their relationship is discovered and they are forcibly separated. (Insert Separation Angst.)

Solution: They meet in secret and plan to run away.

Next Problem: One lover is late to the meeting. (Insert Abandonment Angst.)

Solution: A sympathetic friend (who happens to be the priest that married them,) is waiting with the other lover (the one that isn't late.) They decide to go out and discover whether or not the late lover is going to show up.

Next Problem: The lover who is "marked for death" should he be found inside the city limits will be left alone and unprotected. (Insert Unfairness Angst.)

Solution: A potion that fakes death. If they were dead, no one would bother them.

Next Problem: The lover arrives and finds their beloved out cold from the potion. They immediately think that their beloved has committed suicide because they were late. (Insert "It's all my fault" Angst.)

Solution: They commit suicide.

Next Problem: The one out cold wakes up to find their beloved has committed suicide. (Insert more "It's all my fault" Angst.)

Solution: They commit suicide too.

Conclusion: The parents find the dead kids. (Insert Even MORE "It's all my fault" Angst.) They decide to stop the feud between their families

The End

Writing Murphy's Law
The key to using this method effectively is ONE Point of View , normally the Hero's. This keeps the reader firmly in the driver's seat and focused on what the Hero is doing. It also allows surprises to pop-up and Suspense to build. "Is he gonna get it this time?"

If the reader has been in the Villain's head, for example, and already knows what's going to happen next--where's the Surprise?

Memorize this:
Suspense can only happen when the Reader DOESN'T know what will happen next.

So don't tell them by head-hopping, damn it!

The only real problem that one could face when using this method is the possibility of the author painting themselves into a corner by creating a problem the character Can't solve. This often triggers the heinous Deus Ex Machina --when something or someone comes out of nowhere to save the hero's butt.

The solution of course, is to make a LIST of the problems and their solutions--and STICK TO IT, unless of course, you find a better solution. Just remember to make a better problem to go with it!


DISCLAIMER : As with all my 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 13 Hours - The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
Posted 09 Mar 2011 22:45
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13 Hours
The Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey
There is a ton of information on the Heroic Cycle, or Hero's Journey, but what about the Heroine's ? Being a female that prefers to write stories with a female lead, I decided to do a bit of my own research into the myths and fairy tales that feature Heroines rather than heroes. What I found was a little...startling. While many things in the Hero's Journey still apply, Her journey is not quite the same as His because the path the Heroine takes through the labyrinth is guided by her Heart not her head--or her sword .

"What do Fairy Tales have to do with EROTICA?"
A hell of a lot more than you'd think. Those old stories were crammed with sex.

In the original "Sleeping Beauty," the handsome prince didn't just find the sleeping princess, he left her there hidden and asleep, but came back often enough to get her pregnant with twins. It was the babies suckling on her breasts that woke her -- not his kiss .

In the original "Snow White," the Queen was not a step-mother, but Snow White's actual Mother who was terrified that her husband was going to put their daughter in her place -- as Queen.

In the fairy tale "Donkey-skin," the princess left because her Father raped her in an attempt to force her into being his queen. She put on the donkey-skin to hide her beauty, which men simply could not resist.

In the original "Cinderella," she had until midnight to seduce the prince and get pregnant by him because that was the only way he'd marry her -- for an heir.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

There are Thirteen stages in the Fairy Tale Heroine's Journey. Thirteen hours in her clock of adventure--one for each full moon in a year.

Fair Warning: The fairy tale examples used here are my opinionated interpretations of the oldest and Grimm est versions I know.

1. Upon a time ~ Secret Betrayal
Too pretty, too smart, too loyal, too friendly, too obedient, too good at housekeeping, or sewing, or spinning, or making the flowers grow--someone is always out to get the Fairy Tale Heroine. Though it's usually a jealous (aging,) female relative that betrays her, male relatives do too--by trading her skills for cold hard cash.

* Snow White, Cinderella, Psyche, and Vasilisa were so pretty they inspired jealousy in the other women they lived with.
* Beauty's father steals a flower and the cost is Beauty.
* The father of Rumpelstiltskin's maiden bragged ridiculously about her until he was finally told to prove it or die.
* The princess in the Goose Girl was too rich and too obedient for her maid to resist bullying.
* Rapunzel's mother couldn't get enough parsley.
* Bluebeard's wife, on the other hand, was out to get him .

2. The Herald ~ Bearer of Bad News
This is the Catalyst--a friend, family member, enemy, or object that reveals the deed, promise, or debt for which she is being held accountable, or the deadly danger she's being sent into.

* The Huntsman tells Snow White that her stepmother wants her heart, among other internal body parts--to eat.
* Cinderella's stepsisters brag that all the chores she's been given are specifically to keep her too busy to make a ball gown for herself.
* Beauty's father finally reveals that he has been asked to trade her life for his--and blames her request for a flower.
* In Rumpelstiltskin, the maiden's father sends her to the castle knowing full well that she cannot do as he bragged.
* A witch offers to buy Rapunzel for a sheaf of parsley.
* In the Goose Girl, the talking horse Falada tells the princess that her maid intends to betray them both.
* Vasilisa's stepsister brags that she won't be coming back with a live coal to light their fire because the witch Baba Yaga will eat her.
* A letter from her sister tells Bluebeard's future wife that the man killed her--and why.

3. Refusal of the Call ~ Obedience to the Call
Unlike her male counterpart the Hero, the fairy tale Heroine either doesn't want to refuse the call to adventure, or isn't allowed to. She may argue, fight, weep bitterly, or bolt outright, but someone's life or honour is usually if not always on the line--frequently her own. Ruled by her heart rather than her head, she has no choice but to answer it.

On a side note, when these stories were originally told back before the Dark Ages, women were taught from early childhood to be obedient in all things. Only men were allowed a Choice.

* Cinderella knew exactly what she wanted and went right after it--a prince and escape from her step-mother's home. However, her stepmother and stepsisters didn't have any problem refusing for her--by ripping up the gown she'd painstakingly sewed.
* Against her father's will, Beauty sneaks out of the house and takes off for the Beast's lair.
* Rapunzel's father refused quite a bit, but her mother was thoroughly addicted to the witch's parsley. (Makes one wonder if it was actually parsley , no?)
* The princess who became the Goose Girl couldn't do anything about her maid's bullying--royal etiquette wouldn't allow for it.
* Vasilisa considered refusing, but her magic doll advised her that going to see Baba Yaga was the right choice.
* In Bluebeard, the maiden deliberately sought him out because she wanted revenge for her sister's murder.
- o - In another version, he refused her because of her youth. She actually had to drop her clothes to prove she (had pubic hair) was old enough to marry.

4. Mentors, Tricksters & Costly Gifts
A mentor/trickster comes offering gifts. The Mentor is one who actually cares for the Heroine and wants her happy. Tricksters however, are out for themselves. They want whatever they can get out of the Heroine. If what they grant makes her happy, that's nice, but not necessary. Occasionally, a Trickster such as Baba Yaga can become a Mentor, but that normally takes a lot of pretty impressive work on the Heroine's part.

The gift could be:
* A gown, slippers, and transportation to a ball.
* The favour such as weaving straw into gold.
* The answer to a riddle that hasn't been asked yet.
* Magically long hair.
* A curse of sleep instead of death.
* A spell to call the breeze and make a dead animal's head talk.
* A family heirloom doll that talks.
* A glowing skull.
* A golden key to a deadly room.

In all cases, there is a life-altering price on such gifts. Sometimes the payment is a trinket such as a necklace or ring, but more often it's a promise to be delivered later, or a first kiss--meaning her virginity. Occasionally it's a body part such as her hands, her voice, her hair, her finger, or her firstborn child--the medieval euphemism for her virginity and continued sexual favours until pregnant. In other words, a common law marriage.

5. Enter the Labyrinth
She gives in to temptation and takes the offered gift, crossing the threshold to the labyrinth and committing herself to a path where there is no turning back.

This scene can be played out as a rescue which usually includes the demand of a reward such as a kiss--the symbol for outright seduction.
* Snow White is rescued by the Huntsman when she escapes into the forest. The price for his silence is a kiss.
* Psyche is saved from a fall off the cliffs by an invisible Eros and becomes his lover--but not his wife.
* Rumpelstiltskin's skills at spinning save his maiden from certain death on the sword of the greedy prince, but also put her continued survival firmly into his own hands.

This scene can also be played straight.
* From her mother's grave, Cinderella gains a gown, slippers, and a magical clay horse. (The earliest Cinderella is Chinese!)
- o - In another version, the gifts include a coach and come from a fairy god mother .
* Beauty walks boldly into Beast's castle to pay for her father's life with her own.
* Red Riding Hood takes the basket her mother offers and trots off into the woods toward grandmother's house.
* Lonely Rapunzel happily accepts small gifts and conversation from a prince who visits her tower.
* Accompanied by her talking nesting doll, the ever obedient Vasilisa marches off into the snowy forest to find Baba Yaga's chicken-legged hut so she can ask for a few live coals to light her hearth.

Or in Reverse.
* The princess in the Goose Girl is forced by etiquette to submit to her maid's bullying--and loses her mother's gifts.
* The vengeful younger sister arrives at Bluebeard's castle bringing gifts--her dowry, her virginity, and a pair of specially trained messenger birds.

6. Secret Allies, Secret Enemies, Deadly Gifts & Scary Promises
Entry to the labyrinth has been gained, but there's another, even more dangerous task or temptation to deal with. Another gift is offered with an even higher price-tag, a more chilling promise. She has every intention of fulfilling her bargain, but she has secret enemies.

* Snow White has survived the forest and arrived at the home of the seven dwarves. All they ask is that she be wary of strangers.
* Cinderella arrives at the ball to seduce her prince, but has promised to leave by midnight.
* Beast finally allows Beauty a visit home, but she must return by a certain day.
* Psyche survives the flight into the clouds, but has promised not to look at her new lover.
* In the third and final room of straw. Rumpelstiltskin's maiden promises her first born child--a common law marriage--to the dwarf that's helping her.
* Red Riding Hood has promised not to talk to strangers.
* Rapunzel promises not to let anyone, but the witch climb up her hair.
* The princess exchanges clothes with her maid and swears to never reveal the switch to another living thing. She becomes the Goose Girl.
* Vasilisa is told not to snoop in Baba Yaga's house or ask questions.
* Bluebeard gives his new wife a golden key on the promise that she will not open a certain door.

7. Treachery ~ Broken Vows
Through trickery, lies, theft, temptation, ignorance, or outright wilfulness, her promise is broken.

* Even after needing to be rescued from a poisoned comb and a poisoned corset, Snow White bites into an apple offered by the same stranger.
* While the clock is striking twelve, Cinderella finally notices the time.
* Beauty's sisters jealously steal her magic ring delaying her to return to the Beast.
* Psyche's lover is revealed by candle light to be beautiful beyond compare.
* Rumpelstiltskin's maiden marries the prince--instead leaving with the dwarf.
* Red Riding Hood talks to a wolf.
* Rapunzel lets her prince climb up into her tower--more than once.
* Her horse killed for his ability to speak, the Goose Girl offers gold to the local knacker to nail Falada's head under a certain bridge. She then proceeds to speak to him daily--right in front of the goose boy.
* Bluebeard's door is opened to reveal hideous contents.

Or not.
* Despite several dangerous tasks, one of which is cleaning the interior of Baba Yaga's house--plus make dinner, Vasilisa doesn't pry or ask questions. Because her doll does all the dangerous tasks while she cooks, she sees nothing she isn't supposed to.

8. CRASH Point ~ Center of the Labyrinth
Aware that she must pay the price for her broken vow, she bravely goes forth to--find a way to dodge the consequences.

* Snow White's dwarves dodge her death by putting her in a clear crystal casket.
* Beauty has a hair-pulling fight with her sisters to get her ring back.
* Cinderella bolts for her clay horse knowing full well that it won't make it all the way home.
* Psyche throws herself at Aphrodite's feet and swears she'll do anything to get her lover Eros back.
* Rumpelstiltskin's maiden bargains for her freedom--his name. She then sends huntsmen all over the kingdom to discover the dwarf's name--before he can get her pregnant.
* Red Riding Hood eats the meat the wolf gives her, takes off her clothes, and climbs into bed with him.
* Rather than admit that she's pregnant, Rapunzel tells the witch that she ate too much.
* Before the king, the Goose Girl reveals that she is being held by a vow of silence--which makes her look even more suspicious. A peasant wouldn't bother to keep such a vow, only a princess would.
* Because of her dead sister's warning, Bluebeard's wife saves the key from being bloodied, but not her slippers.
* Vasilisa's ability to accomplish miracles and keep her mouth shut surprises Baba Yaga. Suspicious, the old woman offers to answer a question--but warns that some answers are deadly to know. Vasilisa asks about the three horsemen she saw. The answer is harmless: Black Night, Red Sun, and White Morning Star.

9. Ordeal ~ The Darkest Hour
She faces her greatest fear and death. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any actual weapons at her disposal but her wits. Back then, women weren't allowed to touch things like swords or knives. Fighting wasn't feminine.

* Snow White is locked in a coma--and a crystal casket.
* About the same time that the prince announces that he is looking for a woman that fits a certain sized slipper, Cinderella's growing waistline is noticed and she is locked in the attic.
* Beauty returns to the Beast, but he seems dead.
* To gain Aphrodite's approval, Psyche goes to the kingdom of the dead to fetch something from Persephone, the Queen of Death.
* Rumpelstiltskin's maiden goes through name after name with the dwarf trying to keep him too busy to impregnate her.
* Red Riding Hood starts questioning the wolf.
* To get around her oath to never speak of her situation to another living thing, the Goose Girl is encouraged by the king to speak to a fireplace--while he waits at the chimney.
* Bluebeard's wife's runs all over the castle dodging her furious husband while waiting for her brothers to arrive.
* Knowing exactly how dangerously impossible her tasks were, a puzzled Baba Yaga asks how Vasilisa accomplished them. Knowing that one cannot lie to Baba Yaga and live, yet sworn to secrecy about her doll, Vasilisa dodges with "My mother's blessing."

10. Rewards & Punishments
If she survives the Ordeal, she is rewarded with release from the heart of the labyrinth--or punished by expulsion. Either way, she is permanently marked by her experience.

* Snow White's crystal casket is discovered and carried off by a necrophiliac prince. On the journey to his home, the apple stuck in her throat is jarred loose, allowing her to awaken.
* Cinderella finally gets the chance to reveal her other slipper--and her growing belly to her prince.
* Beast awakens and turns into a handsome young man.
* Aphrodite tells Psyche to "go home."
* Rumpelstiltskin's maiden finally hears back from one of her huntsmen.
* Red Riding hood gets eaten for being too stupid to know that she's in danger.
* Rapunzel is shorn of her hair and thrown from the tower for preferring a man. Shortly afterward, the witch catches the prince, blinds him, and throws him out of the tower too.
* The king has his wife's women clean up the Goose Girl and dress her as befitting her station.
* Vasilisa's diligent work and obedience is rewarded by a kiss of protection on her brow. She is then given permission to take one of the skulls for fire, but she must not touch it, or look directly into its eyes.
- o - In another version, Baba Yaga asks a question of her own: Why go back? Vasilisa's reply: I want them to love me. Baba Yaga responds by grabbing her and dunking her into a vat of gold. Not only has her dress turned to gold, she comes out blonde and milky-skinned. Most remarkably, when she speaks, gold coins and jewels fall from her lips. She is then advised to face the crowing rooster at the gate.
* Bluebeard's wife's brothers finally arrive.

11. Release from the Labyrinth
She heads back to the Ordinary World with a mission to accomplish. At the last threshold, she replays her very first act of commitment, a keepsake gift, a vow, or a kiss.

* Snow White kisses her astonished (and possibly disappointed) prince.
* Cinderella leaves with her prince.
* Beast and his castle finally rejoin the mortal world.
* Psyche goes home to find Eros on the cliff where she first met him. Unable to live without him, she jumps off the cliff. He rescues her again.
* Rumpelstiltskin's maiden finally says thank you and uses his name.
* Free at last from the tower, though bald and saddled with twins, Rapunzel goes looking for her blinded prince.
* Awakened by her twins suckling for milk, Briar Rose, the Sleeping Beauty rises from her long sleep to go looking for the man that knocked her up while she was unconscious.
* The Goose Girl turned Princess once more, attends the local King's wedding feast for his son--who was supposed to be her bridegroom.
* Vasilisa uses a tree branch to take one of the flaming skulls mounted on Baba Yaga's gate and goes home to face the stepmother who cast her out into the snow.
- o - In another version, she merely stops at the skull-lined gate to face the crowing rooster and is granted a star on her brow.
* At the gate where she arrived, Bluebeard's wife meets her brothers and leads them straight to the bloody chamber.

12. Confrontation & Rebirth ~ Parties & Payback
She returns to face her original betrayer. She needs them to acknowledge what they have done to her. This scene is often played out as a visit to her home in her bridal finery and a huge feast. However, this is also when the wicked are punished.

* Snow White's mother dances to death in molten iron shoes.
* Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters lose their eyes to Cinderella's friends the birds.
* Beauty invites her family to the castle to meet her new and extremely handsome husband.
* Psyche's rumour-mongering sisters are transformed into birds.
* Rumpelstiltskin rips himself in half.
- o - In another version Rumpelstiltskin literally throws himself into her body (a poorly euphemistic rape,) right in front of the whole court. He's ripped out of her--and in half--by her angry Prince husband.
* In the Goose Girl, the false princess is set in a barrel of nails and driven around the castle walls 'til she dies.
* Under the direct gaze of the magic skull, Vasilisa's nasty stepmother and stepsister are burned to ash. She then buries the skull to keep it from harming anyone else.
- o - In the other version, Vasilisa's stepsister is so envious of Vasilisa's golden appearance--and the jewels she literally coughs up, she marches off to spend time with Baba Yaga herself, only she ends up in a vat of pitch. She comes out black-haired, dark-skinned, and spewing slugs and toads when she speaks. At the gate, when she looks away from the rooster she faces an ass and gains a donkey's tail on her brow.
* Bluebeard is hacked to pieces.

13. The Last Promise and Ever After
After all her final goodbyes are said, she returns to the Labyrinth to take her place there and receives one last gift, normally a crown or wealth, and makes one final promise. Sometimes it's merely a wedding vow, sometimes it's not.

* Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty, the Goose Girl, Rapunzel, the Sleeping Beauty, and Rumpelstiltskin's maiden all become queens who vow to rule wisely.
* Psyche accompanies her husband Eros to Olympus and becomes a demi-goddess who vows to stay by his side forever.
* Vasilisa's cleverness is noticed and she becomes advisor to the Tsar. She vows to always tell the truth.
- o - In another version, she merely makes her family rich enough to move into town where she ends up meeting a rich merchant's son. After yet another spiteful trick from her step-family, she marries him.
* Bluebeard's widow uses his gold to give every woman in the bloody chamber a proper burial and takes over his castle, but vows never to marry again.

So how does one use something like this for Writing?
Consider this a Plot Arc, a map of the major turning points in a story.

You can use it to plot the major turning points in any sort of heroine based adventure story, but it's far more effective as Relationship Journey for navigating Love , not life -- and not necessarily a purely female one.

Act One
1. Upon a time ~ Secret Betrayal
-- Their own body betrays them by wanting sex -- and love.

2. Herald ~ Bearer of Bad News
-- "That person Likes you!"

3. Refusal of the Call ~ Obedience to the Call
-- "Let's go see them!"

4. Mentors, Tricksters & Costly Gifts
-- First impressions

Act Two
5. Enter the Labyrinth
-- First personal Encounter

6. Secret Allies, Secret Enemies, Deadly Gifts & Scary Promises
-- The dating game.

7. Treachery ~ Broken Vows
-- "They haven't told you everything ."

Act Three
8. CRASH Point ~ Center of the Labyrinth
-- Spying, Prying, and Stalking--oh my!

9. Ordeal ~ The Darkest Hour
-- They know that You know that They know...

10. Rewards & Punishments
-- To Trust and go on, or Not to trust and dump them?

Act Four
11. Release from the Labyrinth
-- Truth & Consequences

12. Confrontation & Rebirth ~ Parties & Payback
-- Showing off the new Lover (spouse); usually in front of the Old lover (spouse).

13. The Last Promise and Ever After
-- Marriage or...?

Simply fill in the blanks.

Wait, FOUR Acts, not Three?
Correct. The Fourth Act is the main character's resurrection from their Ordeal, their rebirth and exit from the labyrinth. Only Tragedies, like Red Riding Hood finish at the end of a Third Act because the main character (or the relationship) does not survive the Ordeal.


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.

Posted 09 Mar 2011 22:03

My context for understanding what publications want ... is grant writing. ... So, same story, different milieu.

My question to you, Ms. M, is this: would you rather be doing anything else than writing, even though you must jump through Their hoops?

No I would not. I chose this career back in 1980 when my very first short story was published. I spent the next 18 years working specifically for the goal of Author. I'll drop dead before I quit.

Topic The Trackless Wasteland known as The MIDDLE
Posted 09 Mar 2011 13:27

The Trackless Wasteland known as:

-----Original Message-----
The middle KILLS me. I freeze when I have to decide which way things are going to go, and how, and that happens during the middle for me.

-----Original Message-----
Middle, middle, middle... It's the Slough of Despond!

-----Original Message-----
The Middle is where I usually fizzle out.

The middle is DANGEROUS territory.

Why? Because the Middle of a story is where you have a million-and-one options, a million-and-one directions to choose from, and a million-and-one ways to really show off your writing skills.

The Middle is also, where you have a million-and-one opportunities to really screw up your story for good . Opportunities that will send you spiraling into ever tightening circles that eventually jam you into a corner you can't get out of. In short: get you Lost in your own story.

You KNOW you're Lost when you hit that point where you're not sure what to do next. Details and points of logic start tripping you up. Characters, situations, and points of view start evolving all by themselves. They can be fun and often fascinating, but for some reason, they never bring you anywhere close to where you plan to End.

You did plan an End right?

The #1 Reason why writers lose themselves in the Middle is because they started writing without a solid idea of exactly where they wanted to END.
Basically, they plunked themselves down in front of their word processor and started writing -- and that's it. No plot, no plan, no outline, and no clue about what direction they wanted their story to go in. AKA: Writing by the Seat of their Pants.

The Fastest way out of any wasteland, especially a bogged down Middle, is Choose a Destination -- an END. Once you've figured out where you want to go, break out your trusty road map to figure out where you are and what major highways are closest to you that will take you there.

Simple, no?

Actually no, it's Not Simple. In fact, it's very often PAINFUL. Choosing a destination when you're already halfway through often means hacking out huge reams of text you've spent days, weeks, or months on simply because that stuff is no longer relevant to the End you have in mind.

So what do you do with all that text you no longer need? You SAVE it as its own document and use it later for its own story -- a story you WILL have an end for before you begin this time, right?

"But what if it's already posted, like on a story site?"
There's a reason I only post when I know the end is in sight -- but that's me. In cases like this, I advise Finishing the story COMPLETELY -- without posting! Then repost the whole thing in one shot. Basically, tear the whole thing down and repost the whole thing back up in one night.

And for God's sake, don't post a public apology! No one wants to read that crap! They're there to read a Story. They could care less about how the author pissed themselves. If someone asks, answer privately and discreetly.

Okay, here are some ways to get through the MIDDLE -- before it gets You.

The Confrontation
This is the huge dramatic Confrontation with plenty of special effects and narrow escapes that happens right at the very end of the Middle. The fallout from the glorious Middle event uncovers special powers, and secrets such as the Master Bad Guy, which kicks the story straight toward the climactic end.

This type of Middle is most often seen in high adventure stories and comic books.

Just about every comic-book movie that's come out has a huge Middle Confrontation that forces the main character to use their Special Powers. This invariably brings them to be noticed by the Master Bad Guy, which in turn heads them straight toward the movie's climactic battle.

In Erotica , this is where the ex-lover or rival lover makes their move to remove their competition.

The Mini Arc
A Mini Arc is a whole little storyline of its own plopped smack in the Middle. It's connected to the main story, but the focus shifts onto a different set of circumstances and characters. It's a little story wholly contained in the Middle designed to expose characters and situations that are vaguely relevant to the main plot.

The Mini Arc is actually something of an antique style. It was very common in the turn of the century stories, but not used much in modern tales as it takes an awful lot of attention away from the main characters.

Jane Austin's romances all have a central Mini Arc where another whole set of characters goes through their own romantic adventure with the main characters only slightly involved. JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series was pretty much a whole pile of Mini Arcs threaded together.

In Erotica , this is typically where the secondary characters have their love-tryst.

Suddenly Sub-Plot
The Sudden Subplot is a watered-down version of the Mini-Arc. It's a situation that suddenly develops and has to be dealt with without actually being a major part of the story. Contained completely in the Middle, the Sudden Subplot generally introduces you to some new characters and/or a new threat. Once that's solved, the main character leaves those characters and that situation behind to go on with the rest of the story.

The Star Wars movies ALL had a Sudden Subplot jammed in the middle, the most infamous of the lot being the Pod Race in The Phantom Menace .

In Erotica , this is where something occurs to keep the main characters from hopping into bed with each other. Usually a massive Misunderstanding that MUST be cleared up for they can go back to having sex.

Comic Relief
Right there in the Middle, a flamboyant new supporting character tromps out onto the stage. They only have cameo shots elsewhere in the story, but in the Middle they take over to add important information and/or tools that kick the main characters straight for the Climax in the most entertaining fashion possible.

Traditionally they're known as the Comic Relief character and most often seen in old-time theater and older movies.

Edna Mode of The Incredibles is one of the more obvious of these characters. Another example would be the mechanical genius that supplies James Bond with cool new gadgets right there in the center of the movie.

In the old Abbot and Costello movies, the Middle is where Costello has a whole scene to himself where in his fumbling he discovers who the real bad guys is, ends up knowing a vital piece of information, or accidentally gains the missing object that everyone is looking for -- though no one believes him.

In Erotica , this is typically where the lovers begin to get their groove on, only to be interrupted time and time again -- usually by the one person they Don't want knowing about the fact that they're having sex.

The Reversal
The Reversal is where the Worst Possible Scenario happens and everything goes to hell in a hand-basket. Basically, the main characters make it to their goal -- only to have their hard won victory snatched right out of their hands.

The Reversal is damned near trademark for the Indiana Jones movies. Every single success that Indy has is not only taken from him it triggers a situation that he barely escapes with his life. Not that any of that stops him from trying again and again...

This type of Middle is most commonly seen in Horror stories where the monster is successfully killed only he's not dead, or captured only to have him escape. Only now, the monster is pissed off and goes directly after the main characters leading straight to the Climax.

In Erotica , this is typically where one of the lovers discovers that the other lover has betrayed them -- or so they think.

In Conclusion...
The Middle can be the most horrifying part of your story to deal with -- but if you PLAN for it, the Middle can become the central Masterpiece that makes the whole thing worth reading.

The methods I've listed are best chosen during the planning stages of your story, but they can be applied after the fact with just as much success -- as long as you don't mind taking a hack saw to your story.


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 Just for Fun ~ Erotic Story Generator!
Posted 09 Mar 2011 09:36

I played with this yesterday...I got a lot of situations with female rock stars resulting in a debt...

I'll have to think about that one...

Freudian slip?

Topic Just for Fun ~ Erotic Story Generator!
Posted 09 Mar 2011 09:23

Erotic Story Generator
The Java code is from Seventh Sanctum, but rest is all original. Feel free to use any of the ideas generated for your own stories.

Example of results:
Even though they definitely knew better, a brash and loud nun spanked and then had oral sex with a submissive teacher in a back alley. This resulted in the loss of her panties.

In an act of revenge, a naive and unsuspecting pair of college girls took the virginity of a quiet and serious uncle at a seedy bar. This resulted in discovery by the ex-lover.

Caught with her panties down, a quiet and serious demoness lost her anal virginity to a petite, fair and delicate pair of guys in a deserted warehouse. This resulted in being caught skinny-dipping in the neighbor's pool.

Posted 08 Mar 2011 19:57

... realising what people want and if you want to make a commercial success out of any type of art then you need to be aware of what your audience wants... ...if you are also doing it to please others, especially those unknown to you then you have to trust the editors etc of the world.. After all that is their job and they know far better than most writers do what the public want...

I see I'm not the only one that had to learn it the hard way. :)
-- I have a head like a rock. More often than not, it take a large blunt object to get through to me.

Topic original sex scenes
Posted 08 Mar 2011 16:00

snorting Bright minds think alike...

I just wish I knew how to get it to run in the forum. It's Java.

Topic original sex scenes
Posted 08 Mar 2011 15:24

Maybe we should create a random plot generator? Just for fun.
That might be amusing if we had enough contributions per category.

Ummm I made one? Erotic story generator .

Topic Fishing for INSPIRATION?
Posted 08 Mar 2011 05:25

Fishing for INSPIRATION?
Your imagination is a pond that you fish your ideas from. Like any fishing pond, what you catch depends on what you’ve stocked your pond with and how much you put in there. If you fish for only the occasional idea, your little ideas have time to breed creatively until they overflow the pond, leaping right out into your hand -- and onto your keyboard. If you fish a lot, you will have to restock -- Frequently.
A Dry Pond = Writer’s Block

What’s in YOUR Imagination?

What do you KNOW?
What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.

WHO do you KNOW?
Have you ever met ...?

• A real Criminal?
• A real Hero?
• A real Romantic?
• A real Stalker?
• A real Witch?
• A real Cop?
• A real Private Investigator?
• A real Soldier?
• A real Stripper?
• A real political figure?
• A real rebellious Teen?
• A real ghost?
• Someone truly in Love?
• A real happily married couple? -- with children?
• Someone who Defied the stereotypes seen on TV?

What have you DONE?
Have you ever Experienced ...?

• A real loving relationship?
• An abusive relationship?
• An obsessive infatuation?
• College?
• Camping?
• Driving cross country?
• Being a problem child?
• A corporate job?
• A fast food job?
• A foreign country?
• Military service?
• Using a sword?
• Magic?

What can you ADD to your Imagination?
The more you add to your pond – the richer and more creative your stock. For the best and most creative results from your imagination, throw in everything that catches your attention, from Saturday morning cartoons to the latest romance, to newspaper articles.

• Adding books and movies – will generate fun and interesting situations.
• Adding research – will add ACCURACY.
• Adding emotional experience – will add DEPTH.
• Adding physical experience – will add REALISM.

Read everything you can get your hands on from non-fiction such as history and mythology to ghost stories, but most importantly, OBSERVE the world around you because THAT goes into your writing too. Do things! See things! Experience things! The wider the range of information and experiences you toss in your imagination, the wider the range of ideas you will come up with.

Give your self little Observation exercises to train yourself to write about them :
• Describe exactly how it feels when your hand is sliding down a banister.
• What does a wooden wall feel like as opposed to a stone wall?
• Can you describe the carpet under your feet?
• Can you describe the sound of your fingers on your keyboard?
• What does water taste like?
• Can you describe what eating a hamburger is like?
• How is wearing a long skirt different from wearing pants?
• Can you describe the clouds in the sky?
• What does ice taste like?

Observe your friends :
• Can you describe a smile?
• How about a frown?
• What does Worry look like on someone's face?
• Can you describe the physical differences between a Happy smile and a Sarcastic smile?
• Can you describe what someone who is nervous looks like?
• How about angry?

Your Memory of all that you've experienced is the most important tool a writer has because ALL of it ends up in their stories. Keep your Memory sharp and well honed by using it as much as you possibly can. This will also keep you from making the fewest MISTAKES.

Think: HOW do you KNOW?
Do you actually Know -- or are you making it up as you go along? Where is your knowledge actually coming from?

• Books?
• Role Playing Games?
• Movies?
• TV shows?
• The Internet?
• First-hand Experience?

Knowledge is POWER and Experience is even more so! Someone who has never kissed isn't going to be able to write a kissing scene as well as someone who has. Worst of all, someone with experience will know IMMEDIATELY when the writer doesn't know what they're talking about. Once that happens, they're closing your story -- never to look at it again.

Hunting for the WHOPPER
Every good fisherman knows to throw back the ones that are too small, so they can grow up and be worth catching later. The same goes for Ideas - throw back the small ideas so they can grow up to become Big Ideas.

Never ever Rush an idea! If it’s too small to use – toss it back. If you try to make a meal (a project) out of a half-grown idea, you will only end up with a half-serving of what could have been something much bigger, juicier, and tastier.

The only way to catch Whoppers is to let your ideas swim around in your pond until they grow up to be Whoppers.

Stealing TEXT is plagiarism, but stealing Ideas is a physical impossibility . Seeing a cool idea and tossing it into your imagination is good for your imagination. New ideas add color, breadth, flavor, and texture to what’s already there.

But! But! But! – BULLSHIT!
Every writer is different, with different things swimming around in their imaginations. You can give five writers the exact same idea – and even let them see each others ideas – and they will still come up with something totally different.

Case in point, VAMPIRES : Brahm Stoker, Angela Knight, Christine Feehan, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephanie Meyers, and Jim Butcher. Need I say more?

In Conclusion...
Keep your Imagination stocked and you will always have ideas swimming around just waiting to be caught!


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.

Posted 08 Mar 2011 02:58

And this, in all honesty, is why, when asked why i don't try to get some of my stuff published, is the reason. i am ALL too aware of how much like WORK it is and, in the end, i'd end up hating what i love to do.

Have you considered looking at it from the Other direction?
-- Instead of writing the story THEN looking for a publisher, pick a publisher and write something specifically to suit their guidelines.

Look at publication as a Writing CHALLENGE, instead of a Writing Limitation.

Posted 08 Mar 2011 02:53

I don't work for Writers, I work for Readers.

THAT is the definition of an editor in the truest sense.

Posted 08 Mar 2011 02:50

Brilliant, no nonsense, real world advice.

It's Great and it's Fun that we like to write, But commercially that's the least important factor.

(I work as a Music Critic. I can't count the times that I've heard stunningly beautiful creations from bands THAT YOU JUST KNOW WON'T MAKE IT -- Commercially.)

After a lifetime in journalism I'm working on a fictional historical novel. Every word Morgan writes both educates and frightens me! But she does speak the truth....
xx SF

Thank you!
-- I don't believe in giving out pretty lies just to make people feel better. It takes a Lot of courage and tenacity to go the 'commercial' publication route. If someone is that determined to do it, they NEED to know the TRUTH, so they can prepare for the battle ahead of them.

Posted 08 Mar 2011 02:41

Editor n. ('e-de-ter, rhymes with predator) occupation where someone is allowed to take a story an author has worked on for hours to get right, and change it as they see fit, presumably for no other purpose than to annoy the author. From an old Latin term meaning "Devil person from Hell"...

...My this normal? Do they feel like they own your butt because they are paying you and therefore can do whatever they want to your story without the author's consent???

Yes, this is Normal and in fact Unavoidable in every form of written publication. They Can and Will edit your work -- the work they paid for -- to fit their word-count/space constraints and their house grammar and/or content rules.

If you are lucky, they will ask the author to do the editing. (Lush asked me to edit "Alchemical Ink" to suit their content restrictions -- and I DID.) However, if the publisher is in a hurry; they're up against a deadline, they'll do it right then and there because legally, they CAN.

However the editors as a rule, do Not " feel like they own your butt because they are paying you ."

One misapprehension that the editor is out to hack, twist, trash, or otherwise fold, spindle, and mutilate your work. The true job of an editor is to take what you have and make it the best it can be, not to rewrite it in their own image and likeness. Spelling, grammar and sentence structure are standard, as is consistency.

You may get a manuscript back marked with enough red to illustrate the St. Valentine's Massacre, and still find not all that much is changed, as far as the true heart of your work: the story.

An editor doesn't bake the cake, just decorates it.

Unfortunately, not all editors know their role.
-- Some want to rewrite a story in a way they like, regardless of author's voice. Others fail to understand the author's world building, and end up literally destroying the carefully wrought storyline. Still more take on the role with a minimum of training and experience, and end up putting in more mistakes than they take out.

Usually because of a bad experience such as this, the author goes into the publishing world mistrusting the editor, and the relationship is doomed from the start.

The trick is knowing the difference between a professional edit, and the evil alternative.

Editing can seem traumatic...
-- You just handed over your baby, and when you get that book back, you feel like you've been attacked. Sentences you labored over have been hash-marked. The quaint turn of phrase you spent a good amount of time getting just so has been designated "too passive", and there is a detailed note attached asking you all sorts of inane questions you thought were made perfectly clear in line 18 of page four.

What would bring an otherwise kind person to perform such brutality?

Oddly enough, they're doing it to help you.
-- If a publisher signs you, they think you have a good bit of writing that the public may enjoy. So their goal is to put out a book that people will want to spend money on.

Now, no matter how good you and your crit group are, things will be missed. That's the editor's job.
-- What seems perfectly clear and right to you after fifty readings may not be so to a reader during their first. A certain turn of phrase may read as offensive, or it may just not fit the image the house wants to project.

And of course, two words to strike fear in any wordsmith's heart: House Style.
-- Every publisher has their own style, terminology, and formatting methods. Which, in most cases, is nothing like yours. But the end result is not intended to send you into a fit of weeping and bosom-rending, but merely to create a marketable product.

If it's not about the money, or you think your misspellings are creative, and should be left in for emphasis, or you truly fear the evil editor, don't go to a publisher .

Insane advice? No, self-preservation.
-- You're better off going to a vanity press, or simply doing it yourself, because all it will result in is bad blood between you and the publisher.

If you sign their contract, you are in essence agreeing to do it their way . If you don't like their way, don't sign the contract .

And yes, an ebook publisher is a real publisher.

And a contract is a contract.

Going to an ebook publisher is not a "last resort."
-- It also does not mean you get the right to do or say whatever you like. An epublisher commands the same respect as any other.

If Doubleday signed you:
* Would you argue with and/or insult the editor?
* Would you ask the publisher after they spent hours editing and putting your book up for sale to dissolve your contract because you want to go to another publisher?
* More important, would they?

Straight up answer is no , on all counts. You wouldn't do it, and they wouldn't take it. So keep that in mind when you make your decision.

Stefani V. Kelsey
EIC (Editor in Chief) Mojo Castle Books

Stephanie is also one of my closest friends.