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'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims

by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing

The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More

Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story

'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
The View from Gallows Hill

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

The Write Stuff

by Ashley Lister



The Write Stuff by Ashley ListerThere’s a common adage that says writers don’t write: they rewrite.  This is only half true.  If we’re going to be picky, a first draft has to be written before any rewriting can take place.  And no one refers to themselves as a rewriter.  That just sounds like a fancy name for a plagiarist.  Nevertheless, there is some truth in the adage.  Rewriting is a necessary part of writing.

First drafts are an essential starting point for any writer.  They’re not easy to produce and anyone who manages to make this mountainous accomplishment should congratulate themselves on the heroic achievement.  But first drafts are only a starting point.  From there a writer has to make sure that every word is earning its place, and all the unnecessary stuff has been cast aside.

In On Writing, Stephen King suggests an equation: 2nd draft = 1st draft -20%.  This is not a bad rule of thumb.  Your 1,000 word first draft, after a careful rewriting, should be approximately 800 words.  Your 100,000 word novel should be approximately 80,000 words.  Of course, this is not an exact science, but it’s surprising how often this figure can be seen working.

However, this equation lends little to the question: what’s involved in rewriting?

Rewriting is essentially the process of turning a first draft into a finished story.  It can involve major changes, including the excision of redundant characters, through to comparatively minor changes such as the removal of an adverb or the clarification of confusing punctuation.

I studied under a professor who advised a series of rewrites, each one focussing on a specific aspect of the completed work.  The first revision looked at plot, ensuring it was well-paced and cohesive.  The second revision looked at characters, checking for everything from errors in eye colour to inconsistencies in personality.  The third looked at dialogue…

It was a methodical approach which I would recommend to any writer.  However, it’s also an arduous approach that does seem specifically designed to bleed the fun from any writing experience. 

The eighth revision looked at overuse of adjectives.  That was hardly something that anyone could ever look forward to.

My personal approach to rewriting is to read and tweak until I’m comfortable with the finished product.  I will read a line and, if I like it, I’ll move onto the next.  If I don’t like it I’ll try to understand what I don’t like.  If all the words in a sentence seem unnecessary, they go.  If they don’t lend themselves to the narrative, description or character development: they go.  If the sentence is supporting narrative, description or character, but it doesn’t have the ring of publishable writing, I alter the phrasing until it says what I want to say in the way I want it said. 

Sometimes this can be as simple as changing one fancy word for a more recognisable alternative.  Instead of saying ‘She decided to acquire…”  I might change the sentence to ‘She got…” 

This is a sweeping change.  Not only have I lost the Latinate phrasing of ‘acquire’, and replaced it with the more easily understandable ‘got’, but I have also stopped telling my reader what the heroine decided to do and simply continued with the action. 

The initial phrasing worked well for a first draft, but the rewriting has improved it so that the story is now more easily read.

Of course, the problem with rewriting is that it’s a time-consuming process.  After a writer has celebrated the completion of a first-draft, rewriting feels like a form of purgatory or limbo.  Are you writing a novel?  No.  I’m rewriting my novel.  I’m not doing anything new: I’m simply polishing something I’ve already created. 

Many experts point out that the difference between a professional writer and an amateur is that the professional puts in the necessary hours perfecting their work before sending it off for publication.  This is a fair point and it’s one to be remembered for anyone wishing to present themselves as a professional writer.

Rewriting isn’t fun, glamorous or particularly enjoyable.  However, it’s necessary for every writer who wants to savour the success of publication.

Ashley Lister
November 2010

If you have comments or questions about this column, please send them to Ashley Lister

Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2010 Archive.

"The Write Stuff" © 2010 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.
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

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'10 Book Reviews


Apocalypse Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Bare Souls
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Best Women's Erotica 2010
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can’t help the way that i feel
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Coming Together...C. Sanchez-Garcia
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Coming Together...M Christian
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Coming Together...Remittance Girl
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Erotic Brits
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Fairy Tale Lust
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Like a God's Kiss
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Like a Sacred Desire
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Like a Veil
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Making the Hook-Up
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Peep Show
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Please, Ma'am
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Spark My Moment
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Three In One Blow
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Erotic Novels

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Fire in the Blood
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Freak Parade
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I Came Up Stairs
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Marianne! A Journey...
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The Marketplace
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The Memorial Garden
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On Demand
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Once Bitten
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Rock My Socks Off
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The Tower and the Tears
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Coin Operated
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I Spy a Wicked Sin
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Libertine's Kiss
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The Master & the Muses
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Tangled Web (MM Romance)
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Tucker's Sin
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Gay Erotica

Best Gay Erotica '10
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Best Gay Romance 2010
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Biker Boys
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Necessary Madness
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Personal Demons
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The Royal Treatment
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Silver Foxes
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Special Forces
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A Sticky End
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Wired Hard 4
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Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Roamnce 2010
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Fast Girls
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Girl Crush
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Sometimes She Lets Me
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Best Sex Writing 2010
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A Brief History of Nakedness
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Condom Nation
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Dictionary of Semenyms
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Doctor of Love
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Florida’s Purge of Gay & Lesbian...
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John Holmes
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How Sex Works
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The Orgasm Answer Guide
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Screening Sex
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Sex at Dawn
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Whip Smart
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