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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


Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister

Speech Therapy

An awful lot of bullshit has been written about fictional dialogue. Here is my contribution.

Dialogue is included in a story for three reasons.

1) Dialogue establishes character.
2) Dialogue moves the plot forward.
3) Dialogue imparts important information.

Anything else is extraneous and should really be cut.

There are plenty of contentious issues in the world of dialogue and most arguments fall into the categories of dialects, speech tags and italics. The truth is these arguments are nothing more than readers and writers arguing for their own personal preferences.

Iíve never written speech in a dialect, but thatís only because I find it confusing and unnecessary. (i.e. "Wot tífook ah ya talkiní aboot?") It doesnít work for me, but I can say the same thing about baked potatoes. Those people who say that no editor would ever touch a manuscript where the majority of dialogue is written to imply dialect are forgetting the popularity of James Herriotís All Creatures Great and Small stories.

In short itís a judgement call. If you think dialect makes your story more convincing you must use it. If you think it makes the text inaccessible, clumsy or simply spoils the fluency of your prose: lose it. There are other ways to suggest a regional dialect that can be equally effective.

Speech tags are equally prone to cause volatile arguments. Some writers say theyíre redundant and I can follow this argument. He said; she said; Jack said and Jill said can all be deemed unnecessary. If itís got speech marks at either end of the sentence itís obviously been said. The context of the sentence should make it clear as to who said what and the manner in which the statement was made.

But this isnít always true and therefore I canít agree that speech tags are completely unnecessary. Iím not the brightest lightbulb in the box and I can easily get lost in a conversation. After an exchange that goes over four or five lines Iím struggling to remember who spoke first and who is currently talking to me. He said; she said; Jack said and Jill said are all lines that help me to remember whoís speaking.

Still on the thorny subject of speech tags, I know some readers cringe when they come across speech tags with verbs, adverbs or adjectives. He said coolly; she said softly; Jack purred; Jill spat. Too many of these can prove to be a distraction. Any repetition will jar the reader from the fantasy world that has been created. Unfamiliar words can have the reader putting down the book and picking up the dictionary and this is never a good thing.

But, ultimately, the decision as to whether or not to write in this style is a matter of individual preference.

Consider the following:

"Are you fucking him?"

As a single line of speech it means nothing. But with the addition of a speech tag we can transform it to this:

"Are you fucking him?" Jill spat.

In this variation we can see Jill is not happy about the situation. With only two words in the form of a speech tag we have altered the sentence to show that Jill has spoken and she is angry and possibly not best pleased with the situation.

Yes, itís true that speech tags can be overdone. But used judiciously, they can be an effective way of conveying so much more than what is simply being said.

And then thereís the perennial argument about italics.

Iíve always believed italics are the ideal way to stress the point of a sentence. But I can sympathise with those who despise italics because, when theyíre used too often, they can quickly grow wearisome.

However, salted conservatively over the page, italics can make the meaning and intent of speech a lot clearer. To use the same example as before, take a look at the difference between the following sentences:

"Are you fucking him?"

"Are you fucking him?"

In the first, the questioner wants to know if sexual intercourse is occurring between his questionee and an unnamed male. The stress is on his surprise that sexual intercourse is occurring.

In the second there is no doubt that sexual intercourse is taking place but it seems to shock or amaze the questioner that this specific unnamed male could be involved.

Without the italics we donít know where the stress should be. With them we can convey an explicit meaning that wonít be misinterpreted.

Dialect, speech tags and italics are all tools that can and should be used if they fit your individual style of writing. And they should be left alone if they donít work for you. We all speak differently and, if our fiction is to be credible, we should account for that in the dialogue we create.

Ashley Lister
May/June 2006

"The Write Stuff" © 2006 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.
Ashleyís 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

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Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
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Sex Collectors
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