What Are You So Afraid Of?

by | April 24, 2014 | General | 4 comments

Kathleen Bradean

It seems like a simple thing. You make up a story. You write it. People read it.

Except that none of those are simple. Each is a painful task. We concentrate on the middle one here.

You Write It.

We talk about characters and technique and style, grammar, method, the senses. Each of these are important, but as Lucy Felthouse mentioned in her post, when you’re writing (first draft, I’ll assume she means), you have to let go of all that and just write. In the first draft, give your story good bones. Flesh it out from there. But even when you’ve written a technically fine piece, it may still lack that spark that makes a story live.

I’m rewriting the third book in a series. I thought I had it done, so I sent it out to beta readers. By a third novel, you’d think I’d be past the need for them, but I’m not. Two of my beta readers had some interesting things to say, things I needed to hear, things I already knew deep down but didn’t want to admit because I wanted to be done.  And while Nan and Ali didn’t say this in so many words, what I was hearing – through my special filter that lets me hear things people never intended to say – was ‘What are you afraid of?’ Because both called me out, in their very polite ways, for backing off writing two scenes I found difficult to write. My characters talked about those events happening, but I couldn’t bring myself to show it to the reader.  And here’s the part that makes me roll my eyes at myself – I knew that.

But enough about me. What about you?

Erotica is difficult to write. Everyone seems to think it’s so easy, but it’s incredibly hard (go ahead and giggle. I’ll wait). The first few times, you might be embarrassed to write those words, or to envision a sex scene in detail then rewind your mental movie of it and watch it all over again in slow motion many, many times until you’ve got every moment down. Having made that leap into the transgressive side of the street – as Remittance Girl might call it – you’d think we’d be able to boldly explore, to peel layers back and examine what lies beneath, to be frank and unapologetic. But I find it isn’t so. Nothing physical daunts me, but raw emotion is the stuff of my writing nightmares and I will perform all sorts of literary tricks to get around it.

What is the hardest thing for you to write? What would it take to make you face it? 

Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean’s stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Haunted Hearths, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, and She’s On Top in print. Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites have also featured her stories. Writing as Jay Lygon, her stories can be found in Inside Him, Blue Collar Taste Tests, Toy Box: Floggers, and the novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons. Read more about Kathleen Bradean at: KathleenBradean.Blogspot.com www.JayLygonWrites.com


  1. Big Ed Magusson

    Interesting set up for my post tomorrow…

    The hardest thing to write are the stories that are the most emotionally vulnerable. As for facing it–isn't that where the juice is? Don't we get better writing and better stories when we push our own edges?

    I hope so. 😉

    • Kathleen Bradean

      I look forward to reading your post!

      I think it's one thing to understand what makes a gripping read, and another to push yourself into a personally uncomfortable zone.

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    You always get to the heart of the matter, Kathleen. (And I agree, Ed, this post makes an excellent prequel to yours.)

    Actually sex scenes are getting harder and harder for me to write, not so much because of the personal exposure but because I feel as though I've lost my juice as I've gotten older. Every scene I write feels as though I've done this a million times before.

    • Kathleen Bradean

      It's difficult for me to, because my interests have shifted. I still have plenty of personal interest in sex, but I've begun to doubt that reading about the act is as stimulating to the reader as reading about the seduction.

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