I've come to a conclusion: The number of half-way decent stories on Literotica are few and far between. I want to remedy that.
I'm young, but I've been writing since the third grade, reading romances since the sixth, and erotica for several years now. No, I don't have any actual stories posted here, but as someone I greatly admire said, "You don't have to be a chef to know when a restaurant has a bad one." In other words, I may not be highly qualified, but I'll be damned if I don't know good writing when I read it.
Note: This is not a series of articles on how to write erotica. This is a series of articles on how to write, period. These are the things to keep in mind in ANY writing situation, whether it's your newest story for Literotica or the English paper due in a few hours or the children's book you want to get published so you can have a little money in your pocket.
K.I.S.S.: Point of View
Let's keep it simple, shall we?
The point of view, or P.O.V., is the narrator. The narrator is not—I repeat, NOT—the author. The author is the one who puts down onto paper—or, in this case, computer document—what the narrator is saying. The narrator is the one telling the story. I would say that the author should never, ever, interject his/her own voice into the narrator's story, but there are a few exceptions: authors of parodies, satires, and other humorous stories can use it quite effectively.
If you aren't writing a parody, satire, or humorous story? Don't do it. It's that simple.
Now, as most of you probably know, though all of you should know this, there are four types of P.O.V., though many people say there are only three. They are as follows:
1. 1st person ("I")
The narrator is telling one of the characters, and is the one telling the story. I consider this one to be the most intimate P.O.V., since it allows the readers to get into the very mind of the narrator. The readers know what the character is thinking, doing, saying, and feeling, all the time. Every sentence, every word, is that of the character. Thus, a character usually ends up having a very strong voice in first person, because the story is utterly saturated with that character. Warning: there is a lack of omnipotence in first person, by necessity, as the story (generally) follows only one character.
"I walked slowly down the hallway, shivering in the cold air. Cold fingers brushed against the back of my neck and I screamed as I spun around, ready to face whatever danger was behind me..."
2. 2nd person ("You")
Yes, second person does exist, but it's rarely used very effectively (a.k.a. well), though I have a friend who assures me that he's read plenty; but that may be because he's a big gamer, so by necessity he's read some good ones. I haven't, however—not unless you count those Pick-Your-Own-Path adventure books back from third grade. And I've yet to find a single good one here at Literotica, though I'm sure one exists...somewhere...
At any rate, second person employs the use of "you," making your readers your narrator. I'd advise avoiding this one; it's great for something like this (haven't you noticed how many "you"s I've already used?), but in narrative form? Please don't.
If you decide to ignore my advice, use the present tense with it. It doesn't usually work well otherwise. (An article on tenses will appear in a while, once I brush up on my own skills.)
"You walk slowly down the hallway, shivering as the cold air hits your skin. Cold fingers brush against the back of your neck, and you scream as you spin around, ready to face whatever danger is behind you..."
3. 3rd person limited ("He/She/It")
You should notice that this one and the last one are both called third person, but the last word tacked on the end makes all the difference. In both, the narrator is not one of the characters. In third limited, however, the narrator chooses to focus on one character's actions, words, and ideas (this one is also called "over the shoulder" P.O.V.). Therefore, the readers are not saturated with one character as they are with first person, but it is the more intimate version of third person.
"She walked slowly down the hallway, shivering in the cold air. She screamed and spun around as cold fingers brushed against the back of her neck..."
4. 3rd person omniscient ("He/She/It")
And this is third person omniscient. As is suggested by that last word, the narrator of this one is all-knowing, rather like the God of the story. Instead of focusing on one character, the narrator will bounce around from one to the other (but try to do it smoothly, hmmm?). This is the one I use most often in my own writing, because frankly I like playing God. Goddess. Whatever.
"She walked slowly down the hallway, shivering in the cold air. The man grinned as she walked past, and reached out to gently skim his cold fingers over the back of her neck. She screamed and spun around, ready to face the danger behind her..."
Once you pick the P.O.V. that you think will work best for you, stick with it. Do NOT change P.O.V.s in the middle of a story; you will throw your readers off balance, and they will not appreciate that. I know I get cranky when authors do it, even published, very famous ones, such as Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island), Barbara Kingsolver (The Bean Trees), and Charles Dickens (Bleak House).
There are a few exceptions: if your story is a series of letters, and each written by a different person, then switch P.O.V.s if the narrator changes; if your story has a frame—that is, Bob (3rd limited) is telling the story of Mary from her P.O.V. (1st)—then switch P.O.V.s.
If neither of these examples apply to your story? Don't switch P.O.V.s. It's that simple.
The next article I'll be working on is K.I.S.S.: SDT, and other basic writing rules.