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?