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Offline T.G.

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Reply #20 on: July 23, 2011, 07:36:50 AM
Once I've finished a novel-length yarn, I have trouble going-back to second-draught it.  I'm intimidated by my own style and construction.  Sure, I can edit for grammar, etc., but constantly recapturing flow, is where I bog-down.

The one thing my writing-profs never taught:  Never Re-read Your Own Stuff. 
Wow, that is totally untrue! In most fiction and fantasy writing, I find that once I have finished the story, it helps to go back through it from the beginning, giving me a chance to check for consistency errors where an incomplete plot hook was left in or I took the story a different direction than I originally thought I would.

NEVER trust your editor to fix consistency errors, as they can sometimes end up changing the entire flow and even meaning behind your stories. I sit down and have a long chat or phone conference with my editor once her job is finished. We discuss each and every change she made together and I find that she can make some pretty poor judgement calls from time to time. Her decisions are always logical and grammatically correct, but they sometimes lose something very important in translation. This is especially problematic if you write suspense or mystery themes where a tiny detail being left out can leave the reader very confused as events unfold later on in the story.

I often adopt a strategy of leaving out a very important detail of the story, and dropping subtle hints throughout until the very end where I dump everything onto the reader at once. A clever reader should be able to see what I have in store for them ahead of time, and not be caught totally off-guard because something was poorly reworded and didn't click properly.

Bottom line: REREAD YOUR OWN WORK...if only to check for consistency. Editors can only be trusted to fix spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, and even then proceed with caution :D

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Offline T.G.

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Reply #21 on: February 06, 2012, 05:25:20 AM
I find myself repeating a lot of the same things to people coming to me for advice, so I figured I would try and break down some tips into what is hopefully an easy-to-read format for novice to intermediate writers. I will focus on erotic literature in particular, but a lot of these are universal. I will list them in the order in which I would go through them when writing a typical work.


The greatest obstacle for a writing can often be figuring out what you want to write about. It helps if you have experiences you can feed off of, but sometimes everything you come up with starts to sound stupid. This is the point where I start bouncing ideas off of other people, or going back to reading for a while until I hit an inspiration. There isn't a magic trick to make ideas pop into your head, sadly. Just keep at it and try and always keep something handy that you can write on in case it comes at an awkward time.

Getting Started

So you have your inspiration, have a rough idea of a plot, but you're not entirely sure how to begin. The first thing to consider is "Who am I writing this for? What kind of person do I expect to read and appreciate it?" That target audience is something that should never stray too far from your mind when writing. Your work will never be something that interests every single person on the planet, so hone in on something specific and be pleasantly surprised when people outside of that target group show interest as well.

There are a few techniques for starting that very first paragraph. The more classic technique is to start with descriptions of characters and environments related to the events, setting the stage, so to speak. Throwing in a bit about current political, social, and/or economic events doesn't hurt, either, if they help to shape the world in which your story exists. Then you narrow that down to a more thorough description of a single character and room, and go from there.

A slightly more advanced technique is to use a sort of "miniature climax" to set the mood of the story, starting off with an event that foreshadows, but differs from, the intended climax of the story. In erotica, this could translate to a college student having forbidden sexual relations with her professor at the beginning of the story, when at the climax of the story, she has an even more taboo relation with her father, brother, or other family member. What you are doing here is planting the idea in the reader's head that there is a potential that STARTS from the opening event, so you had better make sure to never "regress" from that point so far as to make it seem like the opening of the story is unrelated to the rest of it.

A much more advanced technique is to use vague details from the climax of the story to kick it off, leaving out enough information to leave mystery to the event while still baiting the reader with a bit of the juicy part. This requires a lot of patience, some luck, and usually a third party's perspective to accomplish properly, and is not something I suggest people attempt to use on every story they write. In erotica, going with my taboo example from earlier of incest, highlight the act of sex itself, the complex emotions involved in committing a "taboo", and convey the excitement of the situation thoroughly, while leaving out details that could lead to identifying the partner, what the taboo act actually is, and how it got to that point. The biggest obstacle with this method is to make sure you don't finish the story before you even start it.

There are other methods one can use to start a story out. The possibilities are truly vast, and these are by no means the "right" ways to do it. May these serve as guidelines to help you get started or help you advance your craft!


Something no literature or writing class will ever teach you is the less technical and more artistic concept of "flow". You might've had a teacher at some point who told you to "read it out loud and see how it sounds", but that's the closest anyone comes in an academic setting to talking about it. Flow is how your story sounds. It is how the words fit together and move from one to the next to form ideas in your brain. Iambic Pentameter is a specific "pattern" that represents a particular type of flow, but when reading it rather than watching it performed in a play, it is easy to ignore the words and get stuck in the flow itself. There is no mechanically perfect way of doing it. All I can really say is, write in a way that lets the words and punctuation get out of the way of the reader's imagination quickly enough for them to immerse themselves in your story. That will make sense to you with experience.


This is going to be focused highly on erotica. Your build-up is what happens after your introduction and leading up to the beginning of your climax scene. It is important in erotica to have "teases" suitably spaced to remind the reader what the story is about from time to time. If every moment of your story is about sex, then you're probably only going to attract the type of reader who masturbates to it once and forgets entirely about it, so to leave that lasting impression, you want something else to tie the reader into the story as well.

This is where the greatest potential for description and character development occurs. You want to weave details delicately into the body of your build-up so that that are in the reader's subconscious when a more passionate or complex scene arrives. You want to avoid having to spend a paragraph describing complex things, especially in your climax, so make it your goal throughout the story to leave subtle descriptions EVERYWHERE you can so the picture is crystal clear and needs little to no explaining in the late stages of your tale.


When writing a story from an omniscient perspective or multiple perspectives, you'll find yourself needing to shift from one scene or character to another throughout your story. The first thing I'll suggest is that, regardless of the method you choose, be consistent!

A fairly common method used by publishers is to make a clear barrier on the page between one scene and the next. As an example from "The Glass Inferno" by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson, the publishers used a delimiter in the form of


between paragraphs that belonged to difference scenes.

Another method is to use adverbs of time or place as appropriate to offset the start of a new scene or perspective. Make sure and vary the phrases you use at transitions to avoid becoming redundant, while still maintaining a consistent form.

Example using an adjective of time:

(last paragraph of a scene)
Jim just couldn't start his car despite all of his desperate efforts.

Meanwhile, Michael was in the promenade, preparing for the reception.

Example using an adjective of place:

(last paragraph of a scene)
Caroline finished checking out and headed out to the parking lot.

Across the parking lot, Misty watched as Caroline came out of the store.

A third method is to set your chapter boundaries at major scene transitions and let them act as a natural divider. If you change scenes often within your story, this may just become awkward and detract from the story-telling, so use some common sense in deciding if this method is appropriate.

Climax: Starting the scene

Assuming you've managed to do what I suggested in the build-up, starting your climax should be a simple and straight-forward process. You shouldn't be introducing much in the way of "new" here, just taking all the pieces that have been scattered throughout your story and putting them together in the way you see fit. If you are having trouble here, I would suggest going back through the earlier stages of your story and re-reading them, figuring out where you can place the missing pieces from your climax without breaking continuity. You can "drop a bomb" on the reader without retelling half of the story in one scene.

Climax: Coming back down gracefully

Often, people don't know where to go once they've hit the peak of their performance (pun not intended). This is the point where you need to collect all of the loose ends that were left unresolved by the climax, and either wrap them up neatly or twist them in knots in preparation for a sequel.

The biggest mistake you can make here is to leave more than a small handful of loose ends if you are moving towards a sequel. People can hang onto those 2-3 nagging questions for a long, long time, but are prone to lose interest if they feel they need to re-read the whole story to understand the sequel when it is released.

It is almost as bad to just ignore the loose ends entirely. Throw the readers a bone to show you didn't forget something. For advanced writers, this is an excellent place to lead up to that "mini-climax" I explained earlier with some teasers so your next work can truly hit the ground running and show people the direction you are going with things.


This is a matter of style. I personally like to end on a calm, peaceful note. I don't write series with plot continuity, though. Many successful writers who DO write series like to end on a suspenseful note. Beware the "Deux Ex" style ending. Its novelty wears off pretty easily, can serve to frustrate your readers, and kills your chances of having a successful sequel.


Even if you have an editor, make that first pass yourself. It is your work, and it deserves your attention. Give it that much respect, at least.

An editor takes three times as long to proof something as you do, and has to try and guess as your intentions when changes are necessary. If you have someone else proof your work, keep an open line of communications with them. Let them know that you want to be involved in the process so there aren't any surprises later.


Make sure and look over all the changes made one last time after your editor is done. Read the entire script start to finish. This gives one last chance to make sure continuity isn't destroyed by a seemingly small change, and any plans you had made for a sequel aren't destroyed by last-minute fixes. This is your baby, and you've raised it this far. Make sure she's ready before you send her out into the world to suffer the ravages of critics and the attentions of suitors.


Please ask any questions you have below or via PM, and I will try and keep this post updated with any new information that might be of general use.

EDIT: See? I already found an error in my post!
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 08:31:40 AM by T.G. »

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Offline T.G.

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Reply #22 on: February 06, 2012, 05:56:09 AM
A great article, nutty! I'd personally be lost without my editor. Hell, she occasionally helps me bring new CONTENT to the table. She think's I'm totally nuts, but that's par for the course.

Had I never made it over that first hurdle of finding someone to take up my work, I'd like to think I would have the drive to go through the self-publication process, but with marketing being the ugly beast that it is, I'm not sure if I would have met with the same kind of reception as I have now. 90% sure sounds like a nice profit margin though :D

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Offline T.G.

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Reply #23 on: February 07, 2012, 05:47:48 PM
Added a section with tips on scene transitions thanks to a suggestion by feverman. There is much room for improvement in this section, especially since I normally write in a first-person limited perspective and don't shift focus often, but I've mentioned what I can.

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Offline CarlyWals

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Reply #24 on: January 01, 2014, 12:00:13 AM
Dude, where's my car? ;)

Actually I have a serious question; how would you suggest helping someone who cannot stay on task for me then a day?

I often will begin or write short stories in about 1-2 hours, 5-8 pages and never, ever, ever feel like going back and completing the story.

My most successful strategy so far has been writing a 19 page short story in three parts, about 3-4 weeks apart for each 'chapter', but it still doesn't have what I fully want in it. Plus i'm looking at it to perhaps go back and turn it into an erotic short (it's basically just a Mature story), but yet whenever I pull it out to do so I get easily distracted or can't think of where to begin.

Any suggestions?

"If the desire to write is not followed by actual writing, then the desire is not to write"
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Offline PoorJim

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Reply #25 on: August 08, 2020, 02:55:45 PM
When I write things just tend to go on their own.  I find a lot of mistakes and correct them as I find them and often enhance and spice up what I'm working on.  Sometimes I change the 'flow' as someone said to make it easier to read.  I tend to write long unending sentences as everything just pours out and later I break things up and polish it.  I not a professional writer.  It's just something I started doing when I was young.  I stopped for a very long time and just within the last year since December have been going crazy with it.  I run into a lot of rough spots and then something brilliant (or at least I think it's brilliant) suddenly dawns on me and I'm going again.  I couldn't care less about technique and style and the technical aspect of writing.  I don't care so much as being grammatically precise as I do on just telling the story.  So long as I'm communicating what that is, I'm fine with it.


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Reply #26 on: September 09, 2020, 12:21:40 PM

Editors can only be trusted to fix spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, and even then proceed with caution :D

The best editors are those who know when to leave well alone — who can recognize stylistic idiosyncrasies for what they are.

Great editors are blessed with the literary equivalent of perfect pitch. Bad editors are tone deaf.

Offline HppyHrryHrdn

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Reply #27 on: June 29, 2021, 04:12:50 AM
I found this thread most informative, I'm surprised I hadn't ever read it before. While I do some of what was here I again can imagine having an editor for what I usually post. And while I'm not sure if any of my post are to the point where I would expect people to pay to read them, it is a interesting concept. 

The other thing that stuck out to me was how few of the people that posted on this tread are still active on the site. It makes me wonder if the writing just wasn't up to their standards, or if they got bored, or some other thing or person ran them off.

Anyway just a thought. I would suggest anyone reading this post that hasn't read the whole thread go back to the start and see what you've been missing.

I like the idea that a voice can just go somewhere, uninvited, and just kinda hang out like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind. Maybe a thought is like a virus,  it can kill all the healthy thoughts

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Offline Hilda

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Reply #28 on: February 02, 2022, 02:03:58 PM
Abi Word does check your grammar, but I find reading it out loud helps, but this might not work if your general grammar sucks.

This tip was posted ages ago but, hey, I'm struggling to catch up with past threads.

Reading your own work out loud, preferably after setting it aside for a day or two, is an excellent idea. If you find yourself pausing, or stumbling, or having to go back and re-read, then your text needs tweaking. Sometimes the remedy can be something as simple as a comma or two, enough to indicate the places where the reader can pause for a quick breath. Reading out loud will also help identify words or phrase that have been repeated too often. The ear will pick them up as annoying echoes.

You are just a thought that someone, somewhere, somehow feels you should be here.