Style and MentalitybyPanzerFeck©
Hi, I'm PanzerFeck. I've been writing for most of my life to varying capacities. Approaching middle age I'm busier with writing than I've ever been with my hand in political writing, blogging on humanist issues and mental health, writing poetry and performing before live audiences.
I'm editing my debut novel for the crime fiction market at the date of writing this and I've also written and edited short stories, theatre plays and doctored indie screenplays.
I want to share, without going into too great a depth, how I go about my writing and how I went from unoriginal, insecure and attention seeking to constantly creative, confident and greatly productive.
It's not all mind over matter. It's a lot of work, depending on how much you want to write, and some handy tips from the media industry should help you to open yourself to greater possibilities.
The Why's, Where's, How's and Who's:
I am a Writer. I've never published a novel or been published in a paper or magazine, or paid for my work, but I am a writer. Not being a novellist doesn't stop us from being what we are.
Writers are people who live by a certain lifestyle, just as dancers club at the weekend and cooks don't have to be chefs by day to know how to make good food.
For some, it's a phase that comes and goes. For others it's a battle they don't know how to quit, but as a writer I apply my skill to everything that interests me and therefore I never run out of things to write about, nor the desire to write about them.
I have fewer hopes and dreams these days, and they're in no rush to become a reality. I was also a pretty good live musician and artist, but one day my writing left all that in the dust.
Sure, I'm not amazing or anything, but it's a lifetime craft, hence the word "lifestyle." I won't get better if I deny myself the right to advance like all other good writers have!
The Fellow Writer - I used to be the type of kid that compared himself to everyone else in the room, always worrying that I lacked something that people needed to be interesting and capable human beings. I did. I was young. I hadn't developed or experienced life like my heroes had before me. I needed to learn to be more than a poser.
In everything I've done, I've shied from competition. Not only was I bad at a lot of things, I was awful at competition itself. I was a sore loser and because of that, when I started to get the hang of things, I didn't know how to win...
But I've come to feel that, despite some sore losers who criticise others to feel better about themselves, us writers AREN'T competition.
Think about it.
The marketers, the publishers and the people looking to get publicity from our work are the competitors. Good on you if you find success, but...
Us writers are a fucked up bunch. And therefore, wherever we gather, we're a support group for intellectual fuckups and artists and our nicotine and caffeine addictions.
At Literotica we're a support group for perverts too, which is awesome.
And where would we be without our fellow writers but reading nothing other than our own work, which has no surprises in store?!
We need each other, so we should respect each other. Support your fellow fuckup, dear reader, for heroes cannot be self-proclaimed.
The Audience - on the other hand, i have to be honest, most often they're a blessing and otherwise they can be a pain in the fuckin' ass!
Critics aren't we all?!
No... We're not all critics, though we all have been or will be at some point. But there are critics who verge on Troll-status, whose who speak with brutal honesty and then those who speak with eloquent passion. I might not love them all, but guess which one I love to poke and jab at?
Get used to those trolls. But never take shit from an SJW when you have your right to intelligently defend your right to write.
Demographic - this relates to where in the world and to what people you aim your writing at. This is why movie reboots of classics tend to drop from an R-Rated/18 to a PG or a 12. It gets more views.
Literotica can't work that way for obvious reasons, but there are ways around this. Develop your writing voice and style to reach out across the English language and you'll get yourself a whole bunch of Favourites.
Also, never stop reading and educating yourself and the age of your demographic will become more inclusive of older readers.
We're not necessarily smarter, and I hate the use of the word "Superior" with a passion, but us jaded folk thirst for fresh voices.
Your demographic is your target audience!
Let's talk about Text:
What is Text - according to media industry boffins, Text is what the Consumer consumes. You know about consumerism, right? Consumers consume, but it's not as simple as food.
The labels, the brands, the commercials, the actors' dialogue, the message in the picture - it's all TEXT, and we consume it to take away some form of meaning, purpose and satisfaction.
In writing, the Media Text is simplified to purely words, but those words make pictures in our minds. It's not all about the fucking in erotica, it's also about wisdom, life experience, learning and the social and political impacts in between.
This leads to Connotation and Annotation, which we will soon explain, but defined, the Text you put out for your audience to consume leaves them with a lasting impression.
The greater the impression, the more they will be likely to come back for more. And your name will be known!
What's in a Story:
Context - is overtone, overall theme and plot. Through context we can ascertain genre and take away a clear message. Is your story all about the fucking or will you leave a greater impression because you left us a memorable message?
Subtext - is all the little underlying themes and plot devices that pull us in different directions and throw curveballs to keep us guessing as to what might happen next.
Context might not seem so original. It doesn't have to be, but how you choose to craft your story as you go along refines the experience and takes us on a ride out of reality.
See how deep the rabbit hole goes, because at the bottom is the subtext that allows us to let go of the reality and affords you a little suspension of disbelief.
Convention and Bullshit Words - Convention is a good word. Whereas familiarity may breed contempt, Convention takes the best of Pop Culture and references it because somebody did it right and made it original.
Conventions, unfortunately, are mistaken for Cliche when a popular reference is used or recreated badly. However Cliches can be used to great effect when written well.
And if anyone brings up Tropes, tell them to go suck a bag of dicks. Every character serves a purpose. Interactions between characters might not serve readers as critics as they see fit, either, but so long as you don't go in the same direction as every other writer - even if you didn't plagiarise - your writing will be appreciated, even if you feel like you struggle to maintain a competent writing style.
Annotation vs Connotation - speaking of writers and critics, Annotation is the vision that you intent to put across with a specific result in mind.
Every time the likes of Sony or Fox put out a movie trailer for yet another shit movie, I walk away with the feeling like I just witnessed a circle jerk of corporate jazz hands. I see through shit and I'm brutally honest.
That jazz hands thing is my Connotation, because that's what I took from their efforts.
Connotation is the message that the consumer takes away, whether the producer likes it or not. The important thing about this is to learn to be transparent, honest and confident that you have done your best at what you wanted to do with your story.
I won't judge what you wrote about, but I'm not obliged to care either. This is a prime example of why writers need a very thick skin!
Bring for yourself what you mean for others to take away:
On the tail of the subject of Annotation and Connotation, the best way to be honest with your audience is to be honest with yourself.
This isn't about us. This is about YOU. YOU wanted to write this and so it's a form of self-indulgence to write a story. If you can balance that indulgence to include others, though - by taking note of what readers like most - you can get around to writing a very successful series. If you can do that, you've created a whole new world of characters that we give a shit about and can get invested in.
Writing for yourself isn't purely business, but it is work, so why not make it worthwhile for all and celebrate your passion in style. This is how a craft becomes a success!
What's in a Character:
You'll be surprised at how easily a character can be built. Try prepping with a brief profile and give them something to do before the story gets to work on its context.
Emotional Investment - is important for a character. There are no rules to how you get us involved but people have preferences. For a start they don't like to read a shit-tonne of backstory straight off.
Simple and slow release through thoughts, dialogue, situational drama/action and interaction allow us to soak it up in our own time. By the end, you'll know you got it right when people call out for a next chapter. And they'll let you know that you got them right in the feels!
The Fourth Wall - stop reading and look at your hands for a moment. Are you here in this bubble we call reality or is the electrically charged brain in your body signalling in from another world and reporting on the human experience?
How you write your story has the same effect on us and it's profound to read something so real and immersive. The fourth wall gets thinner the more your writing gets closer to reality and especially when it's of an explicit sexual nature, the erogenous zone that is the human brain can almost experience the sensations of a really good story.
Just thought you might like a different POV on the reader's experience. I know I have high standards but they're actually quite easily reachable.
Emotion is Intellect - not only is the brain an erogenous zone, it's the centre of our hormones. Emotion isn't just an experience, it's an intelligence of its own and it can't be fooled with some people.
Harness that fact, embrace your own human experience and use it unashamedly to reach out and touch me. Most of your audience here are women. Women are very emotionally intellectual creatures!
Limits Make Smarter Writers & Characters:
Another movie reference here - how is it that Zack Snyder and M. Night Shyamalan get bigger budgets the worse their movies get? This makes me a bit mentally unstable...
Any artist who ever worked from the bottom of the ladder up did their best with all the limits they wished they didn't have. When they got successful, they got lazy and every song, every movie and every story sounded the same.
Don't go epic, or if you must, do it one chapter at a time and build up to it. Leave yourself deliberate easter eggs for the future of your work so that there's always a way forward.
Otherwise you're building airplanes with concrete. Short stories, or chapters are best fleeting, flirtatious, agile, but tempting to fall into.
If you begin with such weighty, dramatic finality, what's to say your audience won't take cue and just leave as soon as they've started?
Tease them in with "what ifs..." not promises!
What's in a Critic:
Happy Slappy Days - every writer has them when they see somebody being a total prick in the comment section. That's entirely up to you. I've indulged on occasion but in the time you're done, you've wasted good opportunity to read or to write. Idiots aren't worth your time. Let them know immediately if you must, but then ignore them and move on. They'll cry themselves out in time.
Mutual Respect - to constructive critics, deconstructive critics and fellow writers; it's a lovely sentiment that you do it eloquently and this only serves to expand your support group and therfore your network.
Constructive Criticism - when somebody tells you what they likes the most and then positively tells you how it might have been an even better experience. I love these critics. They help me to write better.
Deconstructive Criticism - when somebody picks your work apart and compares it to everything they've ever experienced. I do this with movies and mostly for the shit that I see through. If you're not of the same mind, it can be hard to accept such a critic, but they usually don't mean to appear rude. If they school you, at least do some research on their advice before you reject them. But don't worry about getting your feelings hurt. In time all wisdom is just old pain!
Write for Your Self:
As I said previously, honesty is very important and you owe it to yourself first and foremost. Writing is not just a creative process, it's meditative, it's intuitive and there's more to writing than just setting a scene and concluding it.
Yes a lot of readers come to Literotica purely to get off, but are you going to write a list of stories purely for that kind of reader when you could do so much better by yourself?
Concluding on this, the writer not only explores the Self when they apply themselves to fiction, they apply their very DNA, they apply their personality, their experience of the world, their wisdom and their understanding of the world.
When you do this as the years go by, you might not see it, but you'll be going out to experience more, to mature, to explore and to be fulfilled.
Writers who write for the Self write not only for the achievement of good story telling. They write to improve the self, which in turn improves the art of writing over and over.
Very fucking zen, right?!
Finally... Be Yourself:
You don't have to be nice to everyone. You don't have to reply to every comment and if you do, you don't have to be the epitome of Tom Hanks-style genuine, nice, cool and witty. We're not all that, but there's always a welcome seat for a rogue, a scoundrel, a grouch.
Your personality shows through in your work and so long as it's honest, it's relatable to someone.
Without your honesty, that someone might have nothing at all. I was that someone once, but I'd still take Nothing over see-through Fakery.
The younger me, therefore, was always grateful to have reached that one person when others had hundreds of thousands, because we all have to start somewhere and begin as we mean to go on!
Thanks for reading.