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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power


The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense


Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?


Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...


The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?


Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words


The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies


2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy


Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother
Sluts


Editorials

Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister



The Journey of a Thousand Miles
(Predefine Your Goals)



Lao Tzu, the Chinese Taoist philosopher famously said: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

This is bullshit.

And don’t let any sanctimonious pseudo writing instructor use this analogy as an argument encouraging you to put pen to paper.

The journey of a thousand miles should begin with a little bit of thought. Where are you going? Who are you going with? Do you really want to go there? And a thousand miles is a pretty long journey: is there an alternative route that isn’t quite so circuitous?

Before you write, before you pick up a pen or sit down in front of a keyboard: STOP. Before you go to work on that gripping opening line, or that scintillating dialogue that echoes around inside your head, you need to ask yourself three key questions. Honestly answering these will save a lot of heartache, hardships and frustrations as you start working on your story.

1) What do you want to write? A novel? A short story? A love letter for a beaux? A confession to a raunchy magazine? Something else?

Name it and focus on that ambition. Things may change as your plans move along. Short stories have a way of growing, novels can swell to epic proportions or shrivel to the size of a slim novella. Regardless of the way events will eventually transpire, an initial goal will give you an idea of what your are trying to achieve. That alone can be a blessing on those days when you reread your work and ask yourself: What am I trying to do here?

The journey of a thousand miles doesn’t even begin with buying a road map. Before you make any further decisions: you first need to know where you’re going.

2) Who is your intended audience? Are you writing for men? For women? A specific person? A general readership? Are you wanting to reach out to an intelligent audience who are impressed by literate metaphor? Or a readership who demand details of contemporary culture in a simple and uncomplicated prose?

If you were writing anything for a foreign audience, you’d first want to learn their language. This is because you’d want to communicate with your readers using words they understand.

That much is simple.

But what is often overlooked is the way we modify our language when communicating with different peer groups.

My teenage son calls me "Dude," he refers to his mother as "Tracy," and greets his martial arts instructor with the appellation "Sifu." College lecturers and close friends are not hailed in the same way. And those little differences in terms of salutation precede a host of alternative mannerisms and expressions that he has unconsciously tailored to each individual interaction.

And, while I’m very proud of my son, and think he is exceptional and unique: this mutable behaviour is something that we all do when communicating with different groups of people. It is something that must be done with writing to make sure we are properly addressing our target audience in a language with which they are comfortable.

To illustrate this in terms of erotica: few editors are likely to accept a confession to their raunchy letters page that includes flowery phrases such as, "I gave him my womanliness." Similarly, if you’re writing a risqué letter to your lover, you’ll instinctively know when to say, "I want to peel the clothes from your glorious, gorgeous body," and whether or not it’s acceptable to add, "and fuck you like the little bitch-whore that you are."

Knowing your intended audience and knowing how to speak to your intended audience will give you the clearest indicators of how to get your message across. This means, when you do start writing, every word and every sentiment will be understood. All readers and authors will agree that being understood is the most important premise of any written communication.

Going back to the analogy with Lao Tzu’s journey of a thousand miles: this is all about knowing the terrain you’ll have to cover. If you were really going on that incredibly long journey, this is where you’d be deciding whether to wear heels or hiking boots

3) What do you want to achieve from the experience of writing? Are you hoping to produce something for the Times’ bestseller list? The masterpiece that wins literary immortality for your name? A titillating tale that will arouse someone special? Or is your story aimed at a select audience with specific demands?

As with the first question, the answer to this can change through your own shift in values, or the acceptance and success of your particular project.

Pauline Réage wrote Histoire d’O to prove her chauvinistic employer wrong when he said no woman could write an erotic novel. Its phenomenal success and elevation to the status of a literary classic are merely fortuitous by-products of its publication.

Regardless of your motives which can range from the altruistic desire to inspire the world’s unifying arousal, the urge to make an honest living, or the simple hope that you can excite someone special knowing what you want to achieve at the outset will help you better understand if you’re progressing in the right direction. To continue using the analogy of Lao Tzu’s quote: if your story is a journey of a thousand miles, a predefined goal is your compass.

Answering the above three questions is necessary before you begin to write. No answer you give will be better than any other. If someone wants to write worthy literature that is appreciated throughout the world, that doesn’t mean their goal is superior to someone who wants to excite a solitary lover or a regular readership. The only important thing about the answers is that they must be honest to your own goals.

So: take a moment to think about those three questions and decide on the answers as they apply to you. What do you want to write? Who are you writing it for? What do you hope to get from the experience?

The path of well-written fiction is effectively planned and mapped before the journey can begin. Therefore, once you have your answers, you can say you know what you want to write; you know whom you’re writing for; and you’re confident about what you want from the experience.

And now, you can pick up your pen and start getting those words on paper. As Lao Tzu, the Chinese Taoist philosopher said: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Ashley Lister
August 2005

______
"The Write Stuff" © 2005 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms.  His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email: Ashley Lister
Website: www.ashleylister.co.uk



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