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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

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown

Pulling The String

"I couldn’t put it down!"

Those are probably the five sweetest words a writer can hear—aside from "The check’s in the mail." We all want our readers to devour us, breathlessly captivated to the end.

In most fiction, this is accomplished through the opposing forces of desire and conflict. Sure, we read for the pleasure of the words, and the delicious sensation of experiencing someone else’s life. But even as we enjoy those things, two questions pull us along: What does the character want? Will he get it?

In erotica, desire is easy to create, but direct conflict is trickier—particularly when your characters are attracted to each other, and eager to get in the sack. How can you keep the story from becoming predictable, and keep those pages turning?

Tension. It’s an element that throws the outcome into question, and keeps your audience guessing—and reading. Here are three ways to ‘pull the string.’

START THE CLOCK:  Give your characters a distinct deadline for their fun. Perhaps two former lovers have met again by chance and the sparks flare like the 4th of July. Even with sizzling sex and crisp writing, it’s a ho-hum storyline. But what if her husband is already in transit, on his way to pick her up? What if the lovers are in a bedroom at a house party, the one where the guests have thrown their coats ­ and people are talking about leaving? A distinct deadline will vault your characters into over-drive and tug the reader along at the same speed.

CREATE A MYSTERY:  Although all stories should spark questions in the reader’s mind, this technique purposely keeps a vital bit of information from the reader, like showing him a box but not the prize inside.

In Bob Buckley’s compelling story Cold Comfort, a male traveler takes refuge in a hotel during a storm. Since there are no vacancies he settles into the lounge, and notices a beautiful woman skillfully deflecting the amorous advances of several men. Then, to his surprise, she sits down and invites him to her room.

What the hell was her game? Women didn’t just offer themselves to him, not even in his dreams. Or was something else going on?

In badly-written porn, this sort of thing happens all the time. But Buckley’s female character is elegant, haunting, tinged with sadness. Throughout the sensual sex scene that follows, both the main character and the reader are propelled forward by the question: Why has she chosen him? Ultimately the answer is revealed, and the story comes to a satisfying, if bittersweet, conclusion.

PUSH BOUNDARIES:  If you take your character outside his normal comfort zone, you immediately add tension to a story. I’m not talking about shock fiction, which grabs for the biggest bang by trying to appall the reader. That’s the lazy writer’s way of grabbing you by the lapel. I’m also not talking about non-consensual acts.

To push your character’s personal boundaries means to give him the opportunity to do something he wouldn’t normally do—and yet suddenly finds exciting. That boundary can be anything: anal play, sex in public, an extramarital affair, or something even more innocuous. The tension is created not through the act itself, but through the character’s internal grappling between fear and desire.

In Lori L.’s captivating story, Pretty Nails, Dirty Thoughts, the female main character meets a provocative woman, Tanya, who’s known to be ‘nothing but trouble.’ The main character considers herself ‘quiet, conservative and predictable’ yet on a whim she invites Tanya over to the table and into her life.

I couldn’t (give) a precise explanation for an attraction that seemed as murky and sexually dangerous as Tanya’s patchouli perfume.

Tanya’s dark past immediately sets up tension in the story, which is amplified as Tanya lures the main character farther and farther beyond her comfort zone. In the final segment, Tanya wants sex during the character’s menstrual period.

"No," I replied defiantly, determined to take a stand on this issue. This was disgusting. This was crossing the line, the one we invent for ourselves.

"You’d better get a black towel."

I would never have thought it possible, but I returned with the towel, a black one. She had already turned back the covers, her victim had already surrendered. But I began having second thoughts when she grinned at the towel I was holding in my hands, which, at that moment, felt like a gun, one I was asking to be shot with.

The story is both compelling and provocative, as we follow the character through her fears into startling new pleasure and revelation. Her resistance is interwoven with her arousal and even up to the climactic moment, we don’t know what will happen, and how the character will respond to it.

Reading Pretty Nails, Dirty Thoughts for the first time pushed my own personal boundaries: I wasn’t sure how I felt about the subject. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to continue reading—except I simply couldn’t put it down.

And that’s what well-crafted tension does for a story.

(Portions of 'Cold Comfort' and 'Pretty Nails, Dirty Thoughts' are reprinted with the authors' permission.)

"Beyond the Basics" © 2005 Tulsa Brown. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Tulsa Brown is an award-winning novelist who has also written for film and media, and has led many writing workshops for adults and young people.

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> 2006 Book Reviews

4 Erotic Ass-ets
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The Best of Both Worlds
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The Black Masque
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Blood Surrender
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Bound to Love
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Double Dare
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Leather, Lace and Lust
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Mr. Stone & Lessons
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Nina Hartley's Sex Guide
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Oedipus & Rode Hard
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Orgasms & More
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Passion of Isis
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Sex in Uniform
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Six Top Picks
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Stirring up a Storm
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Sunshine and Shadow
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Surrender & Dying for It
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Wicked: Sexy Tales...
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Writing Naked
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America’s War on Sex
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Covent Garden Ladies
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The Commitment
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Female Orgasms
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Government Vs. Erotica
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International Exposure
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A Profane Wit
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Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
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Sex Collectors
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Sex Machines
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