Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Weaknesses as a Writer

I recently read a review (a huge thank you to those of you who are reviewing my books) of "Becoming a Boi" in which the reader criticized the books' descriptions. Particularly, the reviewer pointed out the lack of environmental descriptors, but also noted that the protagonist's background wasn't really emphasized.

I'll confess that I've thought the same thing about my writing.  I find that I have to force myself to describe environments, settings, and (what I consider) superfluous details.  And when I do, it feels clunky and (in my opinion) breaks up the kinetic flow of the scene.  But I definitely recognize the lack.

I think it stems from the reality that, when I read, I sort of glaze over details like that.  Oftentimes, I find myself picturing a setting that, if I really compared it to the author's description, would be very, very different.  In short, I tend not to care about the *where* so much as the *why, how and who*.

The other reason (and this one's conscious) I don't describe settings very thoroughly is that these stories aren't supposed to be four-hundred page behemoths.  They're intended to be fairly short, and if I'm going to tell a full story, some details simply can't make the final cut.

Finally, I have a theory that, when you're writing erotica, it's preferable to leave some things up to the imagination of the reader.  It personalizes the story, and allows the reader to engage the narrative in a much more personal way, which, in turn, makes it all the more erotic.

So my question to you all is, "What do you think?"   Am I concocting reasons to make writing (admittedly) easier?  Or does my reasoning hold water?  If you don't want to reply publicly, please feel free to email me at Nikki's Email.

8 comments:

  1. I think you answered your own question! You do not like to write descriptions because you do not feel they are part of your story, so you are trying to find an acceptable excuse. If I may make a suggestion, only describe parts of the environment that are central to the story and weave those descriptions into the story. If you have a bed where some action is going to take place, describe aspects of the bed as it pertains to the action. Like perhaps how the bedding feels when the heroine is pushed onto the bed. Weaving the descriptions into the action of the story will make them feel less clunky because you are not stopping your story to describe something, and it adds detail without you having to describe the entire setting.

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    1. I should clarify that I do describe the settings, but in the barest sense. I also include *some* details (ie. a huge, oak desk in a tastefully decorated office) in my longer stories. While I don't go into minute detail about the individual pieces of art, I think it's enough to set the scene. In the shorter stories (which is where the review in question originated), I don't put nearly as much stock in describing the setting, as they're intended to be a much more energetic read. However, I do use techniques similar to that which you're suggesting, but I admit, I could do it more. I'll definitely keep it in mind as I'm writing future stories.

      Thanks for your criticism! I hope I can use it to make my work better.

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  2. I'm not really a writer by trade, and I've admittedly never read any of your work beyond your caps. However, I'd answer similarly to Saul. While there are many works of all sorts in which the author describes the setting in great detail, that level of definition isn't necessary, especially in short stories, novellas, and that sort of thing. That said, it sounds like your critic was basically experiencing the events in a void.

    In addition to fixating on a "landmark" within your scene (a bed, a desk, a wicked-looking device with a clear mix of painful and pleasurable intent, etc.), you need to provide enough on the setting for the reader to fill this in from memory and imagination. Otherwise, some readers may feel like they're looking into a pool of light surrounded by darkness, watching the story unfold within that circle. The trick is to figure out how to efficiently convey just enough information to trigger the mind to fill in the background. IMO, this is best accomplished with mostly non-visual info. We KNOW what a bedroom, or an office, or a cave, or the bridge of a futuristic space craft looks like; we just need to realize where we are and the context to tweak it appropriately.

    For example, maybe your landmark will be the BDSM device I alluded to earlier, and your background is a basement sex dungeon. Rather than describing the mundane details of an unfinished basement fixed up for kink (what color is the mildew on the walls? blehhh...), give it character from your writing perspective.

    "As she stumbled down the rough stairs into the musty blackness, Nikki's bare feet finally met cold, unyielding concrete. Over the rhythmic pattering of a dripping pipe, she heard her nameless Mistress call her name. Mistress' voice was soft, so sweet, yet Nikki knew from experience the jagged edge lurking just beneath that seductive call. As she struggled through the dim light toward her Mistress, her journey through the dark made all the more perilous by the bonds cutting into her arms and thighs, she wondered if she'd even be able to get up if, *when*, she tripped. Nikki realized that perhaps that was exactly what Mistress wanted to see: Nikki's bruised body inch-worming its way to grovel at her feet. As she made her way around the corner into the source of the only light, she came face to face with Mistress, who wore little more than an evil smile. Her eyes shifted away from the form of her tormentor onto the single object beneath the faintly humming lightbulb. Nikki wasn't quite sure what was suspended by chains in front of her, but it had several locking rings which seemed destined to imprison her body in impossible contortions. There was a distinctly phallic knob at either end of the device, one considerably larger than the other. Nikki's gaze was suddenly snatched away from the devilish device by the sweetly cruel voice of Mistress. 'Welcome to your new hell,' she murmured with a chilling smirk."

    Don't try to describe the setting as a series of "the walls were...", "the ground was...", "the chamber smelled like..." statements. It's not fun to read OR write. Allow the sensory data to flow as the character experiences it. If visual detail is warranted, try to offer it in an interesting way. The bimbo bedroom isn't "pink walls and carpet, with a big pink bed" it's "heavily perfumed and an explosion of pink, with a bed big enough for three or even four bimbo sluts to play".

    IDK maybe I'm just rambling and you're rolling your eyes by now, but hopefully you got something out of it.

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    1. I understand what you're saying, and when I do describe settings, it's via that technique. I rarely say "The desk was big," or the like (unless it's meant as an emphasized opening sentence). Still, I do think that I could do it more, even if it does drag me out of my comfort zone.

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    2. Leaving your comfort zone will force you to grow as a writer, just as leaving your artistic comfort zone has caused you to grow as an artist. This is after all why you as for critique of your work. It is as much to grow your talent as it is to please your fans (and yourself).

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    3. I agree that pushing past what's comfortable will increase the quality of the work.

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  3. "I should clarify that I do describe the settings, but in the barest sense."

    That's the way I like to read this type of writing, Nikki, so I vote to keep doing what you do so well.

    :)

    Lesley Anne

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    1. I think I'll end up with something of a happy medium. While I don't intend to inject too much description into the shorter stories, I will probably make it a bit of a focus to paint a little more scenery into the long stories. The captions, of course, will remain unchanged.

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