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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

Lets Get Critical
you show me yours, and Ill show you mine


I’ve mentioned before that writing is a solipsistic occupation.  I’m not sure if I used that posh word at the time—I’ve recently had a head transplant with a brainy person and my vocabulary has increased a lot.  That aside, when I was talking about the loneliness of writing, I mentioned the importance of a critiquing partner. 

For the record, it’s worth stating again that critiquing partners are worth their weight in Viagra.  A second pair of eyes (obviously, attached inside a skull, and ideally connected to a human body) are invaluable when it comes to checking through prose.  A second pair of eyes (with the aforementioned functioning accoutrements) will pick up on typos, notice missing words, and offer character insights that the original author often fails to see.

Critiquing partners are necessary for success—which is one of the many reasons why ERWA is such a fantastic resource.  The support/feedback that comes through storytime, writers and parlor [three sections of ERWA's email list] is one of the areas where practising and professional writers can hone their talents to the keenest edge.

However, as well as benefiting from feedback, every writer should know how to politely discount some suggestions for improvement.

I’ve just been working with a colleague on a script.  It’s not erotica, so it’s not really my forte.  The colleague sent through the script and asked for my suggestions.  Initially I went through and noted typos and listed them.  Typos are very much like carpet burns and they catch all of us at some point.  I then made some observations for improvements in the dialogue and characterisations. 

He got back to me an hour later and listed a response to every point I had raised.  The typos—he hadn’t seen and he was grateful for my noticing them.  Some of the dialogue amendments he liked—and changed the script accordingly.  Some of the dialogue amendments didn’t fit with his vision of the finished script.  He thanked me for my suggestions on those points but said he was going to stay with the original, or work on an alternative of his own creation. 

In short, it was the textbook way critiquing partners are supposed to behave.  I wasn’t offended that he hadn’t jumped on every one of my suggestions.  In truth, once he’d explained that his central character was the only one allowed comedy lines—I understood how off the mark my suggestions had been. 

But not every critiquing relationship works so well.  I have read through MS’s produced by other colleagues and my feedback has been met with varying degrees of hostility and occasional resentment. 

As always, my first step is always to read through looking for typos and missing words.  Then I make suggestions along the lines of dialogue, character modifications or plot construction.  It’s a simple format and, since I’m a fairly simple bloke, it works consistently well for me. 

But it doesn’t always meet with every writer’s approval. 

Whilst critiquing a poem, I came across the unfamiliar word “adobe”.  I circled it and said I didn’t know what it meant and thought a more familiar term might be appropriate for the sake of clarity.  When the poet saw my notes she laughed at my ignorance, assured me that everyone knew it was a synonym for “a brick” and suggested I should learn more words before I critiqued anything else.

I have since learnt two words which I’ll be using if she asks for my help again.  One of them is “off.”

And I mention this only to illustrate that there are ways in which an author should graciously receive criticism. 

  • Consider every suggestion.  Even if it sounds ridiculous at first, it could open up another train of thought or help to expand, develop or strengthen an existing area within your writing.  If it still doesn’t work for your ultimate vision of what you were trying to produce you will be able to offer valid reasons for discounting the suggestion.
  • Thank the critic.  Even if the ideas are outrageously inappropriate, (i.e. “There aren’t enough spaceships in this story about Jane Austen!”) it doesn’t hurt to thank a critic for taking the time and effort to consider your work and offer their opinion.
  • Don’t be defensive.  Criticism is nothing more than opinions.  If a critic is suggesting revisions, this doesn’t mean that they’re dismissing what they’ve read as a waste of paper.  It only means they have seen ways that the writer could improve from their observations.
For most of us, the ideal reader response would be outright and unashamed enthusiasm.  But, in reality, a considered opinion that states flaws and strengths, and suggests a way to make improvements, is far more beneficial.

Ashley Lister
August 2008

Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2008 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