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'08 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations

by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft

Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons

2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Im Easy, But Im No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel

Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics

On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank

Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister

Five Steps to Success

One of the great pleasures of being a book reviewer is receiving unexpected books through the post. It’s a little like having unexpected Christmas or Birthday presents appearing when you weren’t expecting them. Many of my days have been brightened by the arrival of the latest Rachel Kramer Bussel or Alison Tyler collection landing on my doorstep. There have been occasions where my week has been made perfect because I received a pre-publication copy of a new Portia Da Costa title, or the latest book from Madelynne Ellis or Saskia Walker.

But there have also been some pretty severe disappointments. I have received some books that were so poorly written they were a little like car accidents: you stare on with pity, and can’t draw your gaze away from the horrors that have happened there.

The authors that I mentioned in the first paragraph are clearly mistresses of their craft and don’t produce car wrecks. They produce text that is consistently eloquent without being too wordy; they write stories that make sense and invariably excite the reader; they produce quality, accessible erotic fiction.

The unnamed paper-wasters in the second paragraph produce laughable examples of how not to write a story. I wish I was cruel enough to name names or provide examples. I even feel guilty saying that the main culprits are usually self-published authors.

This is not me saying that all self-published authors are unable to write coherently. I wouldn’t say that because it’s not true. I’ve read many self-published titles that are as good or better than the titles produced by the most respected of established publishing houses. I’m only saying that the worst of examples of badly written fiction that I’ve seen are usually from self-published authors.

Which is why I think it’s so important for aspiring authors to consider the following five steps. Regardless of whether fiction is being submitted to a publishing house, or being written for self-publication, every author needs to do five simple things to produce the best fiction they are capable of writing.

1) Understand grammar & spelling
There are a million or more books on grammar. There are doubtless double that amount of websites dedicated to the subject. Some of them go into unnecessary detail on the difference between passive and active verbs or abstract and concrete nouns or explaining transitive, intransitive and ditransitive. Knowing grammar to such depth isn’t necessary for a writer. But being aware of its correct usage is vital.

The same points can be made for spelling. Without trying to be too simplistic: if spelling is not correct it’s wrong. Spellcheckers are a marvellous aid to correct spelling but they are not inflammable. As that previous sentence proves, the infallibility of a spellchecker relies on the conscientious efforts of a diligent reader. Nothing compares to a sound knowledge of vocabulary and its correct usage.

2) Read
The most efficient way to learn how to write good fiction is by reading good fiction. Again, there are countless books telling potential authors how to write well. But the most effective way of learning what needs to be done, and how professionals do it, is by reading the works of those who know what they’re doing. If you want to write efficiently in any genre, read the masters of that genre and make notes on how they make their stories distinctive. If you want to write the scariest horror fiction, read Stephen King or Richard Laymon. If you want to write the most thrilling thrillers, follow the examples set by John Grisham, Lee Child or Harlan Coben. If you want to write effective erotic fiction, read any of the authors I’ve listed at the top of this page.

3) Write
My doctor once told me her son wanted to be a writer. She asked me for advice. It was quite a strange experience—and not just because she was giving me a rectal examination during the conversation. I asked if her son had written anything already. She laughed and said he was a medical student and didn’t have the time to write—but he had some great ideas for stories. I waited until she had removed her fingers and then explained that having great ideas is only part of the equation. To become a writer those great ideas have to make the magical transition onto the page. Consequently my advice here is the same as I gave to my doctor: warm up your fingers every day with some writing.

4) Read your own writing
In one of my creative writing classes a student complained that she didn’t enjoy reading her own writing. I had to bite my tongue for fear of saying, “That’s just how the rest of us feel.”

It can be a chore reading your own writing: but it’s a necessary chore.

There’s a saying about monkeys and typewriters and an infinite number of them eventually producing the works of Shakespeare. While this is a mathematical probability it is rarely mentioned that the monkeys would also produce a lot of unpublishable gibberish. Of course, they could go down the self-publishing route with the unpublishable gibberish, but it would be a more effective and timely process if they read through their first draft and began the process of self-editing.

Read what you’ve written. Correct what you’ve written. And improve what you’ve written.

One of my favourite techniques is to read what I’ve written aloud. This is a shortcut to editing that is surprisingly effective. Reading aloud helps identify clumsy phrasing and unnecessary repetition. There are other ways of editing your own work but they all start with the process of reading your own words.

5) Get others to read your writing
This is where erotic fiction triumphs over every other genre. Thriller writers can ask friends and loved ones to read a story, and they will be told whether or not the story was thrilling. Horror writers will ask trusted readers to appraise a story, and they will learn if their work is scary. But erotica authors can hand a manuscript to a confidante and the feedback is much more satisfying. I’ve had readers blush when I asked them about a story. I’ve had other readers tell me that their wrists are still aching. One reader curiously said he couldn’t face eating celery again. But all the feedback is invaluable because it shows whether or not the story has worked for its intended audience. In this step, erotic fiction writers can learn exactly how their stories affected their reader and use that knowledge to improve their current work and make their next story better.

The above five steps are not mandatory. Different writers have different approaches to writing and there are no two ways that work equally well for everyone. But for anyone wanting to turn their dreams of writing into reality, these five steps could include the suggestion that makes the difference between rejection and publication. More importantly, they could help aspiring authors to make the difference between producing work that is laughable and work that is laudable.

Ashley Lister
January 2008

Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2007 Archive.

"The Write Stuff" © 2008 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, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashleys 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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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy