Daddy X

Better Reading for Better Writing—The Joy of Cooking up a Story

 by Daddy X

One of the most valuable reference books on food is the perennial Joy of Cooking. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you use their recipes, which are far more complicated than a cookbook should be. (They’ll have you sifting brown sugar.) Rather, I’m talking about the section: “Know Your Ingredients”.

Knowing the ingredients of a dish, and, depending on the ways these ingredients are prepared, combined, cooked and how they compliment one another in the finished product, is 95 percent of the cooking battle.

We can extrapolate this theory to our writing. To write effectively, we must first know the ingredients—parts of speech, phraseology, a good vocabulary and how punctuation separates words into categories so they make sense. Style guides, and other dedicated works on various aspects of writing, come in handy for this.

I have purposely not named the authors in several of the guides due to the fact that they are standardized works begun over 100 years ago, then adapted and revised by other authors over decades. Others have been compiled by numerous contributors, such as the literary department at the University of Chicago. If I acknowledged them all, this post would be a lot longer. :>)

You likely have your own trusted teaching guides. We encourage you to comment and put us hip to them. For instance, I’ve not read Stephen King’s On Writing, which comes with its own proponents. I would encourage somebody familiar with it to give an assessment

A few personal favorites to consider:

Elements of Style

The old saw. There have always been challenges to Strunk’s opinionated delivery. It’s not the last word on all aspects of modern writing by any measure. But it just may be the first writing guide a fledgling writer should become familiar with.

Without a working knowledge of the basic information you’ll find in this slim volume, you’ll likely not get far as a writer. You won’t play like Coltrane unless you can first play ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. Backwards. Perfectly. Instinctively, without the benefit of written music.

Same with writing. We crawl before we walk. Or run the mile. Or jump hurdles. Just as John Coltrane broke rules, we first need to know the rules inside out, upside down and backwards before we break out on our own.

There is a new edition, which takes into consideration modern conventions, but a copy found in a used bookstore will likely serve as well.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Shows by example how punctuation determines what the words in a sentence actually mean. A fun, clever, deceptively competent work that establishes an easily understood system regarding the nature, logic and nuance of punctuation. Indispensable.

I’ll simply repeat the author’s little yarn that serves to illustrate the concept of this book:

A panda walks into a café, orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes toward the door.

The panda produces a poorly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder. “Look it up.”

 The waiter turns to the relevant page, and, sure enough finds an explanation:

 Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal. Native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So it really does matter what little marks we put between our words. Like Count Basie said about music: “Notes are simply notes. Music is what happens between the notes.”

The Essential Writer’s Companion

This and the following work would be the most likely to keep near at hand while pounding the keys. (Useless for pounding one’s pud.) Both feature a quick reference guide on the first few pages, allowing you to find an easy answer to your question as to why a red line appears under your work. Basic and easy to use, but not very nuanced.

Barron’s Essentials of English

See above. If you have one, you’ll probably not need the other. Both address aspects of writing essays, papers, letters, aesthetics of the finished product and illustrate common misuses of parts of speech. Both use examples to illustrate these lessons.

Self-editing for Fiction Writers Brown/King

This is the book I recommend most often on ERWA Storytime. While the above works provide general information on the English language, Self-editing focuses on the craft of fiction writing in depth. POV, tense, dialog dynamics, tags and beats, active v passive, show v tell, internal monologue, general sophistication of voice, it’s all covered.

Probably the one style guide a fiction writer should read cover-to-cover once a year. Also includes either-or lessons, examples of misuses and exercises to drive home points. (I simply looooove driving home my point.)

The Chicago Manual of Style

If Elements of Style is the first word on the subject, Chicago just may be the last. Most fiction writers will probably never need all the information contained in this massive tome, considering the broad scope of the business writing areas. Having said that, Chicago is the go-to choice for most editors and publishing houses. If a writer could possibly read (and retain) all the information in this book, they would have everything they need to know about most aspects of general writing, journalism, publishing and book production.

I’m still working with the 15th edition, (published 2003) but I see they’ve progressed to the 17th, likely incorporating more advanced aspects of the ever-changing world of modern writing and on-line publishing.

How to Write a Dirty Story by Susie Bright

Though the books mentioned above contain all you need to write effectively in the English language, those that bring up sex at all will advise to keep it behind closed doors. This, obviously, is antithetical for those of us who write erotica.

Ms. Bright has gone out of her way to show us how erotica writing differs from general fiction writing. From conception to submission of the finished product, we’re exposed to her vast first-hand experience. No pun.

Beyond delving into the literary elements that make for effective erotica, unlike the other books noted, Susie includes process and how it relates to the craft. For instance, she offers advice in avoiding libido burnout when, for hours on end, day after day, we’re writing about sex. She admonishes writers of all stripes to make sure to eat well, to exercise regularly, even get up and take walks outside every few hours, both to get other perspectives and to get the blood (and other juices) flowing. You’ll be surprised how many new ideas come to the fore while walking outdoors.

Reading for your own pleasure

You’ll notice that many of the above guides and reference works include before/after examples to illustrate their respective lessons. There’s no reason to limit the concept of learning by example to reference works.

Of primary importance in my antiques business is recognition. Recognizing the good from the bad, genuine from fake, is essential. Same with writing.

Read the best writing, fiction or not. The weekly NYT Book Review is a good start. Pulitzer and Nobel prizes in both fiction and non-fiction are announced every year. Pick and choose from whatever your interests may be; the possibilities extend back for years. Reading the best stuff, whether fiction or not, allows us to recognize and appreciate the best. And to perceive at a gut level how and why the best differs from the lesser.

Take for example T. C. Boyle, who has received as many literary acknowledgements of any living writer. Whether novel or short story, Boyle’s the kind of writer whose range of subject matter encompasses something for just about everyone. In my opinion, his prolific masterpieces are the very pinnacle of literary arts. I don’t think he structures any two sentences alike. His command of longer sentences is enviable— structured, complex, yet easy to read. Unless you are already a literary scholar, Boyle will add to your vocabulary every sitting.

Donna Tartt is another. The Goldfinch won a Pulitzer a couple of years back and may be the most perfectly constructed novel I’ve ever read. Norman Mailer made Harlot’s Ghost, his 1400 page fictional (?) treatise on the CIA read like a breeze. It was quite easy to go through 40-50 pages in a sitting, not because it wasn’t sophisticated or complex, far from it, but because of the fact that Mailer’s prose flows effortlessly.

I’m sure you have your favorites. Please comment on them below. Let’s hear about your go-to authors and your take on why they write so well.

If we become accustomed to reading the best in every type of writing, we’ll not be satisfied with anything less in our own work.

We can use these wonderful books as further examples to improve our work, just as we would the examples in the style guides. How our favorite authors successfully compile their work. How they vary (or not) the length and construction of sentences. How their paragraphs and themes weave together. How they approach and allow for vocabulary, POV, modifiers, characterization, atmosphere, time and tense. How and when to use our knowledge and finesse to break the rules, because, after all, isn’t breaking rules what the best writers do?

As a chef in the restaurant business, I was expected to go out and dine in competing restaurants, basically researching other chefs’ ways to make food taste good. Luckily, when I first started in a professional capacity, I worked under a chef who would make me taste a dish then tell him not only what the ingredients were, but how they were prepared, what type and level of heat was employed and whatever presentation would offer the best appearance on the plate. It’s not like the finished product I created from these sojourns was stealing an actual recipe (which literary parallel would be plagiarism) but rather some version that comes of one’s individual take on the corpus of information previously absorbed.

Now, when I have a main ingredient, whether vegetable or meat, fish or fowl, I’ll consult several cookbooks and see what recipes they offer featuring that ingredient. Then, knowing what I already know about a myriad of ingredients, I’ll close up all the cookbooks and do my take on what I’ve absorbed.

See? Writing is a lot like cooking. Joyful—as long as you know your way around the ingredients.









Effective Feedback

by Daddy X

When I first started writing, I realized early on how difficult it is to get anyone to read erotic work. Friends proved somewhat less than helpful. Either they told me what I wanted to hear or I never heard from them again. After losing several friends, I abandoned that approach. :>)

So I took a few workshops with Susie Bright. She mentioned The Erotica Readers and Writers Association as the place to have our efforts read and commented on by those who know something about the subject.

IMO, Storytime represents the heart and soul of ERWA. Our critiquing process has long been acknowledged in erotica circles as one of the most effective means of taking the initiative to improve our craft.

There’s no set-in-stone requirement for participation in ERWA Storytime, though we do suggest an honor/common courtesy-based guideline: ideally an author offers two crits of others’ work for every story the author has posted for feedback. No one’s going to reprimand you if we have a slow week and not enough stories come in to fulfill the guideline. But over time, if it looks like all take and no give, expect a gentle reminder from our oversight staff.

Over the years, I’ve picked up some helpful tips about offering, and receiving, critiques:

The best way to start

It’s important to formulate your own critique before you read critiques on the same piece by others. You want to go into the read cold, without any prior expectations. Otherwise you’re likely to be distracted by the same problems others have seen. You don’t want to go into a read expecting something, and likely finding it. That will compromise your ability to see and communicate different problems or strengths. An honest reaction is your best guide and ultimately most helpful to the author.

What to look for 

Has the author accomplished what they set out to achieve? In erotica, that goal is often of a sexual nature. I seldom critique erotica negatively for its sexual heat, or lack thereof. My thinking is that whatever produces sexual arousal in one reader will be another’s— “So what?” The amount I’m turned on, or not, is simply an indication of my personal response, not necessarily of the author’s writing skill.

Of course, if a story strikes me sexually, providing a-stirrin in me loins (boner) I’ll be sure to mention it (with enthusiasm). But a negative take on sexual titillation doesn’t afford much help, unless it’s a matter of style or ineffective chops used to produce the ultimately lackluster effect. 

What pulls you from the story, for good or for ill? There’s that lovely passage that’ll make you stop and take a deep breath while you contemplate its structure, lyricism and impact. And then there’s the misspelling, tense jump or POV shift that yanks you abruptly from the flow.

When something confuses you, comment on it. Did the writer use enough dialog tags to make the characters’ conversations clear? Did we lose track of who was speaking? Did the author use too many tags? What was it that interrupted the flow of the story?

The author needs to hear what works and what doesn’t. In time, their level of expertise will improve, and your own critiques can become more precise.

How to present an effective critique

In most works, there are well-done elements, even in the most amateurish story. Mention those elements in your assessment. In fact, lead with them. There is no better way to create a receptive response than with a compliment. It tells the author that you respect their efforts and see value in their work.

Frame your comments so they can be readily absorbed by an author. Try to make every single thing you write clear, correct and effective. Make it second nature to consciously write to produce a predictable effect. It’s a good idea to get in that habit.  

Simply voicing your opinion in a civil fashion can itself improve your own writing. If your tendency is to lash out, then make the extra effort to leaven your critique with courtesy. E-correspondence, often banged out in haste—unedited—has the tendency to come off as abrupt. A ‘critique’ does not imply a strictly negative response or focus only on the problems a reader encounters. Encouraging the author will help to soften the blow of whatever negatives you impart and provide more useful guidance.

Importance of staying objective

As you read more and more authors’ works, make a conscious effort to develop a sense of separating out your own pet peeves. Develop an awareness to discern elements outside your own squicks and preferences—mastery of which may take time, but is crucial to providing a valuable critique.

By integrating purposeful objectivity with innate subjectivity, your critiques can delve much deeper. When a seasoned subscriber has clear insights on story construction, tense, POV or declensions, that feedback can function as a professional editor’s would.

How to receive a critique of your own work

Everyone has an opinion. ERWA subscribers’ talents are spread over a vast range of literary achievement, from novices to professional editors. Because of that, ERWA opinions, taken as a holistic entity, tend to mimic the greater reading public.

 While we understand that our writings are our children, nobody wants to hear that their baby isn’t perfect. Nobody at ERWA wants to make you feel bad. At least not intentionally. Of course, there are nearly as many styles of critique as there are subscribers.

We’ve already suggested those critiquing try for the positive approach. By the same token, authors having their stories critiqued should take comments with some degree of resiliency. We’re never done with the process of learning how to write. Being open to feedback, especially criticism, is crucial to that process.

Your responsibility to the critquer

Acknowledge all crits. In addition to voluntarily reading your work, the person critiquing has possibly spent hours on your piece—unpaid. If you don’t answer those crits, the person at the other end may assume the effort wasn’t appreciated and may not comment on your work again. It would be difficult for any one person to critique it all. We pick and choose works to crit in direct proportion to how much the effort seems valued.

What you get out of doing a critique

Maintaining objectivity concerning our own work is difficult. But as we observe others’ work, we develop a sense of how to recognize similar failings, or successes, in our own efforts.

Writing more nuanced critiques can inform our writing, producing more nuanced effects. (How to shape a narrative without subjectivity for example—a virtual necessity for a believable narrator.)

Remember—your reaction is always valid. The author’s words, phrases, and punctuation are the elements that have informed your opinion as well as your own future efforts.

Bottom line? Reading and critiquing other authors is one of the most rewarding and effective ways to improve your own writing.





by Daddy X

Scope is a quality I look for in a read. When I engage with a book, I want more than just the story. I want to know what the story implies and impacts in a larger sense, how it relates to fundamental cause and effect.

When our mind wanders, one thought follows another, establishing a kind of sense to us, a logical progression incorporating our own experience, knowledge and reason. Problem is, to someone else our so-called logical progressions may not make sense. Plotting a path of logical thought can be a quite personal thing. If our reader knows something about a subject, it is perfectly possible for them to fill in connective blanks supplying their own experience. But how do we supply just enough correct information to lead the reader to what they suspect are his/her own conclusions?

Perhaps a few examples will more effectively explain this tie-in of scope and logic:

When I read Simon Winchester’s “Krakatoa”, a non-fiction work, not only did I learn how big the explosion was in 1883, how it reckoned to be the loudest noise humans have ever experienced. I learned that the blast was heard in Australia, all the way from Indonesia. It affected the skies for years, creating lower worldwide temperatures. The eruption launched eleven cubic miles of the planet into the air. I learned that there was no dawn in the area for three days

I also learned the workings of the geological structure of the inner earth, below the crust we live on. How currents of molten metamorphic rock constantly flow in predictable patterns over millions of years. How these destructive vents we call volcanoes, though devastating in violence, are actually relief valves, periodically releasing pressure that if not checked, would result in much bigger cataclysms.

I learned that the eruption of Krakatoa could have been connected to the first known act of Islamic extremism. The notion that the world was ending made earthly matters no longer relevant.  How it all fits together. Logical cause and effect—backed by history and research.

Winchester does his due diligence. Research, research, research. In this case, research is certainly an indispensible tool.

Another book, this time fiction, Smilla’s Sense of Snow was a mixed read for me. Popular back in the 90’s, they made a film (which I didn’t see) of the screenplay. Although I read it at least twenty years ago, the conflicting impressions are still clear.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg began as an all-encompassing read. The first person MC, an immigrant female investigator, is working a murder in Denmark. While relating her story, the history of her mother’s native land and people comes alive with facts and anecdotes about the Greenland culture and how they fare socially when transported to Europe. Her people are described to fit within the sturdy genetic and cultural stock of our far northern Inuit tribes.

(Consider the village in “The Highbottom Affair”, available in “The Gonzo Collection” for a fuller, more fanciful description of these people.)

Those tangential drifts didn’t detract from either the flow of the story or a reader’s attention. Hell, it was one of those books that one resents any time not spent reading. The book had scope. Everything happening on the ground coincided with the MC’s drifts of whimsy. In the first half.

Unfortunately, at one point, the story turned around on its face. It was as though another writer (a not-too-bright one) had pushed the author away from the word processor and took over, turning the story into cheap sci-fi deep-core earth bullshit run-of-the-mill pap.

 If it sounds like I’m angry about that—I was. Although I got over it—at the time I felt as though something had been stolen from me. A stellar read had been bastardized and I still don’t know why. Maybe they ran out of info? Not enough research to get through the book? So they piled it all up front and filled in the rest for readers with a double-digit IQ? Man, was I pissed!

Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” really did deserve its Pulitzer. Not only was the story wondrously compelling, her research seemed faultless. Being in the antiques trade, I saw that her impeccable references to art history and enlightened attention to aesthetics appeared to represent a tremendous amount of knowledge.

But did it really? Can authors, using selected and sometimes subtle facts and hints, fake that knowledge? Can we give ‘em a little that seems like a lot? Give the reader enough so that their own logical thought progressions will provide veracity? This is fiction, after all.

The idea of research is daunting, and for me, not much fun. Writing is fun. But what constitutes the correct level of inside info to convince a reader? Yet not get weakened by inaccuracies or omissions? How to work those subtleties to our advantage as a writer? I know there’s no substitute for knowledge, but can we fake it in fiction? Is there some fine line that can be walked? Anybody have a process?

What would one even name that skill?



Pronouns vs Names

By Mikey Rakes

When to use pronouns and when to use names can be tricky in any fiction writing, but with same-sex stories, editing can become critical. This is one of my pet peeves and something I also struggle with as a writer of male on male erotic thrillers. Sometimes I have to put myself in the reader’s seat to understand where the confusion can come from and sometimes I’m surprised how even accomplished writers can fall into some pronouns pitfalls.

Many writers have an all-encompassing view of their world and who is moving around in that special space. On occasion, we forget the reader can’t see the big picture. Editing is something we’d all like to have someone else do, but as writers it is our responsibility to make the manuscript the best possible product before we send to our editors. Unless you’re writing and publishing, of course, in which case: it’s all you, baby!

A prime example of a bit of a mix up came from a book I just finished reading, where the author started the paragraph with Character #1 doing something and in mid-paragraph changed to the ‘he’ pronoun, but although confusing, the ‘he’ was clearly Character #2.

Sex scenes are tricky, too. He came. He jacked him off. He felt sooo good inside of him. Which him? Him one or Him two? Or how about this one: ‘She exploded all over her fingers.’ Is this a masturbation scene? There was a Heather and a Sarah at the beginning of the paragraph, so who exploded on whose fingers? This type of ambiguity has a tendency to confuse the reader and pull them from the scene you worked so hard to write.

Poor pronoun placement can kill a sex scene. I hear all of you right now: but we can’t be using their names ALL THE TIME! No, you can’t, but you can use them more freely than usual when writing same sex stories. It’s important your readers know who is whom seamlessly, so they aren’t having to think about it. How you construct your sentences and paragraphs can help tremendously. If you start out a paragraph where Randy is nuzzling Jonas’s cock, don’t jump to Jonas enjoying it without establishing Jonas’s experience in a new paragraph.

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover’s cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn’t destined to last. He’d savor what he could and be happy in the moment.

Here we are clearly in Randy’s focus. But what if we took the same paragraph and added a little bit:

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover’s cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn’t destined to last.  He’d savor what he could and be happy in the moment. He slipped his dick inside his mouth.

The last line sounds a little funky, eh? We know it’s Randy. Or we think we know it’s Randy, but are we sure? We have to deduce that Randy slipped Jonas’s cock inside his (Randy’s) mouth. But what if our next sentence is: Jonas sucked him hard. Now how do we feel about it? About the pronouns? The names? Are we sure we know what is happening? Are they now in a sixty-nine?

It may seem that I’m making this out to be something odd, but I’ve read many stories that are far worse in terms of pronoun usage and keeping the characters straight. Look at the paragraph as it stands now, before editing:

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas’s wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hits his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, the water rushing over his head, and his lover’s cock caressing his cheek are what Randy tucks away into his memories locker. In his mind, he knew this affair wasn’t destined to last. He’d savor what he could and be happy in the moment. He slipped his dick inside his mouth. Jonas sucked him hard. He rocked deep into his throat, almost triggering his gag reflex before pulling back out. He was in heaven.

See how easily the scene can get out of control? In the writer’s mind it’s clear, but on the page? Yeah, not so much. So how do we clear it up? Edit. Edit. Edit. One edit isn’t enough, but we all get sick of reading the same thing over and over. So, take it in chunks. Break up your editing into small, easily manageable segments, such as just the sex scenes (I like doing the fun stuff first). Just remember, sex scenes aren’t the only place where your pronouns can get muddled.

Also, remember that it’s okay to use the character’s names. Just don’t overuse them. Take a look at the revised paragraph.

Randy nestled his nose into Jonas wiry pubic hair and inhaled deeply. He loved the musky scent of his man after practice, just after wetting down in the shower, but right before any soap hit his luscious skin. Those moments on his knees, as the water rushed over his head, and his lover’s cock caressed his cheek were the memories Randy tucked away every time they were together. In his mind, he knew their affair wasn’t destined to last. He’d savor what he could and be happy in the moment. Calloused fingers grazed his chin and Randy looked up into his lover’s lazy gaze. The lust in those heavy lidded eyes made Randy understand what Jonas wanted. Randy wanted it too. So he allowed Jonas to tilt his jaw open and slide his dick inside. The taste of Jonas in his mouth was heaven. Randy sucked him hard and Jonas’s hips jerked, rocking him deep into Randy’s throat. Jonas almost triggered Randy’s gag reflex before he pulled out to glide his cockhead along his tongue. God, I love being on my knees for Jonas. For Randy, being used was a part of the turn on, and from the sounds coming from Jonas’s throat, he enjoyed using him.

We didn’t give up on using the pronouns, but attempted to place the names in such a way as to keep the picture clear. Deep first person thoughts can be useful as means to keep things straight as well. Used sparingly, they can be quite effective for conveying strong emotion.

If you read your work out loud, or have a program that reads it for you, it can be helpful in determining what sounds best to your reader’s ear. I don’t know about other folks, but I see and hear the words of the books I’m reading in my head. Sort of like watching a movie with subtitles: if the subtitles are messed up, it throws the experience all outta whack for me.

When you begin writing, focus on simply getting the story on the page, and worry about the mechanics later. Remember, however, that you don’t want your reader pulling back at a crucial moment. Sex scenes are more than a way to titillate the reader. They must help to move the story along and expand the reader’s knowledge of the characters involved. Sex scenes enable the reader to understand your characters and grasp their normality. We all realize when we first fall in love the reality is…we fuck like bunnies. Sex is a part of life. In the case of same sex couplings, in our writing, we must be hyper-aware of the use of pronouns. Help the reader understand what he/she is doing to him/her, and your readers will love you for the extra effort they may never realize you’ve made. Make it seamless, baby.

Keeping it real

By Daddy X (ERWA Editor)

What does fiction do for us? Take us to the outer reaches of
the universe? To new worlds? Inside technology? To a contrived history of the
pyramids? Do we, as writers, first experience our travels in the real world,
then relate the trip to our readers? Or do we create the journey from whole cloth?
What stimulates a reader’s mental and emotional synapses to trigger a
particular realization the writer has in mind? How to get readers to process
information the way we intend? Do we acknowledge sophisticated readers by subtle
tricks, isolating ourselves from their own interpretations? Or do we hold their
hands, explaining everything as we go along, leaving nothing to the reader’s
imagination. How do we make it all happen? How to keep it real?

Life experiences hint at ways a character may behave in a
given circumstance or what reactions may result from certain stimuli. Creating an
acceptably realistic scenario is a melding of what we know as fact with what simply
could be. It’s a matter of blending the universally accepted knowable with
conjecture. Sounds easy, as long as we’re simply writing what we know, what
we’ve lived.

While I certainly do make up shit, I can’t say that I’ve
ever been tempted to write anything too far out.  By that I mean crossing erotica with Sci-fi, paranormal,
vampires, zombies (ick). I do have a couple thousand words set on another
planet, but there it sits, in the ‘what next?’ pile.

Fact is I’m not really conversant in the very fantastical,
except for those places I’ve traveled within myself and consequently still within
my world. Doors opened and thresholds were crossed under the influence of
psychedelics. Real life, whether interpreted within our conscious minds or not,
is all so interesting (and fantastic) that there’s enough internal space to
explore before I’d get to setting up other, unfamiliar, complicated societies.

 It’s hard enough to
grasp the one we’re living in, for crissakes.

Clearly, a lot of readers do love these fantasy genres, and
the artists who create them can be quite affecting. The great storyteller
Stephen King is one who states the impossible and makes us believe it. The
writers of the ‘Star Trek’ series, endowed with the innate ability not only to
create new worlds, technologies, societal patterns, etc. also remembered to
take us along for the ride. As if a phaser was something everybody had in a
drawer somewhere. We felt we understood how warp drive worked.  

Feeling one’s way around a created fantasy world is at once
a noble, frivolous, and difficult task.

Noble, in that alternative orderings of the human condition
potentially reside in the random cards of earthly imagination.

Frivolous, for those who lead a more simple existence—even
folk tales and creation myths, no matter how complex, tend to stay fixed within
a culture.

Difficult—in that it all has to jibe for the reader.

We mustn’t forget the need for the human mind to create
fantasy. Even in the most removed tribes, the otherworldly has a way of
creeping into practical existence even though a moody, introspective state couldn’t
be sustained for long. Not at least without the cooperation of others of like
mind. It seems as though there’s a need in our species that requires flights of
fancy. Escapism? Metaphor? A need to explore the creative process? This is the
genesis of magical thought. To create an unsubstantiated story to explain who
we are, why we are, and where we come from. Births of religions would fall somewhere
within this realm.

The very complexity of our own way of life seldom makes
sense, so why, one may ask, does ‘real’ matter so much in fiction? Good
question, but fiction has to make sense relative to itself. Life doesn’t have
to follow any rules. A reader’s observation may suggest that a particular outcome
of a series of events would be impossible given the information provided.

At times it appears we accept such incongruities in our real
lives much easier than we endure errors in our fiction. Reality is a state of flux.
In the real world, we can’t always predict the effect of an action, whereas in
the world of fiction we must. We can surprise, but the surprise must be congruent
with what has come before.

My guess is it’s my own laziness, covering for some
perceived inadequacy that keeps me from the difficult stuff of research, which
would be necessary to any endeavors in writing the fantastic. Same as a historical
piece for that matter, so it’s not just a simple fear of the unknown that keeps
me from that noble task. 

My lamest excuse would be that at this stage of life, there
isn’t time for researching something outside my experience. After all, I’m still
a long way from exhausting what I’ve learned thus far. Going forward, it
follows that research into esoteric and non-substantive issues could be a waste
of time.

Time better spent writing.   

Hot Chilli Erotica

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