How To Pull Up Your Story ScorebyMaxSebastian©
You don't have to be a genius to be a good writer, you just have to be careful. Quality writing is not a magical ability bestowed at birth: you can learn how to produce wonderful language that really stirs your readers' emotions. Don't settle for second best: grant the world the gift of your inspirational talent.
Now I don't claim to be an expert, here: there is no such thing as a real 'expert' anyway. Even a Professor at Harvard can be wrong, and even the best writers in the world make mistakes. What I offer here are suggestions that I feel will help fulfill the potential of your imagination. I'm sure there are all manner of weaknesses in my own writing, but I do have confidence and try to practice the kinds of things that I will advise you here. Perhaps my writing is proof of something, but the truth is that I still have a lot to learn as well.
You may, of course, be a strong writer already and know all about what I'm going to say here, but there's nothing wrong with a little reassurance that what you're doing is great and you're already a genius, is there?
So take my hand, dear reader, and together we'll do our best to brighten someone else's day.
1. Creating characters who engage with the readers
To create a character isn't just about determining what colour their hair is, what their measurements are, how tall they are or if they're 'hot'. If your characters have depth, your readers will love them and your score will push skywards.
What is the attitude of your character at any one time? Arrogant? Nervous? Selfish? Selfless? Weak-willed? Strong-willed? Laid back? Up tight? Paranoid? Confident? Funny? Serious? Depressed? Chirpy? Snobbish? Down to Earth? Callous? What are their beliefs? Go into the thought process, how they feel, what they think about the other characters, their ambitions, their decisions based on past experience. Weaknesses and flaws also make characters human and more interesting, but you still have to make characters attractive for erotic stories.
Another thing that will make characters interesting is if they progress through the story. By interacting with other characters and experiencing story events, your character might have changed from who he or she was in the beginning to the result at the end. A nervous person with low self-esteem might meet someone who is so attracted to them that they are given fairly high self-esteem by the final paragraph. A very self-righteous, arrogant person could be turned into a nervous wreck if he or she is rejected enough. A deeply cynical person might gain faith after meeting an inspirational person. Think of it as the Ebenezer Scrooge effect – Scrooge was a horribly selfish man until the ghosts showed him the error of his ways, and then he changed.
One thing to try is to base a character on someone you know fairly well: just make the character different enough so that no one could possibly recognise who you are basing a character on. So what about that dark-haired friend of yours – how would she react to the man of her dreams? What about that shy blonde you know who wouldn't say boo to a goose – if she suddenly found herself involved in an emergency, how would she cope? What about that guy you know who is so in love himself that it makes you feel sick? What would happen if he lost everything and was forced into some demeaning job to claw back his career? How would he feel about being looked down upon all of a sudden? How does the sex progress between your characters? Is it silent apart from the animal urges, or – perhaps more realistically – how do the characters communicate between each other while making love? Does he make her laugh when he tickles her with his breath on her inner thigh? Does she feel too self-conscious to give him sexual requests? How can she overcome that?
Have a look around you in your day-to-day life. How do people react to situations? How do they behave in social situations, how do they cope with feeling a certain way? Plagiarise real lives as much as you like - there's no copyright on reality. Just don't use real names – that might get you sued. Just because you're writing about sex, don't feel that character can be left out: sexual stories are much more sexy when the characters seem realistic. And if your readers really engage with those characters, those story scores will go up and up – and you could get emails asking you to write more about those characters.
Oh, and don't feel you can't fantasise just because you want to write a realistic character. Realism doesn't mean everyone has to look like a complete swamp donkey: if you want a buxom blonde with beautiful blue eyes and a slender figure, go right ahead and create her – but really try to breathe life into her. Imagine what she's thinking about, what she's hoping, what she's expecting, what she's afraid of, what she wants, what she likes. That guy can still have powerful equipment between his legs, but what is he worried about? What does he think about his partner? What does he think his partner thinks about him?
As well as observing those people who live around you and using their characteristic habits to breathe life into your characters, don't be afraid of taking inspiration from other stories or even the movies, too. You don't need to copy anything or plagiarise what you see, but just take note of certain characters you see. Observe the characters you see up there on the silver screen, imagine actors playing the part of your characters: you may think it's tacky to write about celebrities picking up their chauffeurs for sex or teeny pop stars falling for some random fan backstage at a concert, but that shouldn't stop you from thinking about the way Matt Damon smiles or how to cheer up Michelle Pfeiffer if she'd been crying. Imagine your favourite actor is simply acting out your character and really making the part their own. You might think of Sean Connery when you're writing about a guy called John Hargreaves, but the reader only gets that John Hargreaves has a deep seductive voice and a comforting demeanour. You might think of Anna Kournikova and the way her tight clothing clings to her firm curves, but if you call her Zoe Anderson and dress her up as a shy office secretary, the reader only knows about Zoe Anderson. Of course the danger with using celebrities like Ms. Kournikova is that you will slip into clichés of Western ideals, or turn out a seriously empty character, but if you can picture a character in you mind, it sometimes helps you to substantiate them. Besides, if you start off thinking about a celebrity and you keep writing about him or her under a different name or setting, pretty soon that character will fall away from the original inspiration and embrace their new identity. Then Zoe Anderson really is Zoe Anderson, not some tennis starlet you once saw in a magazine advertising underwear.
2. A plot is a character's best friend
I think many stories on Literotica that don't score very high marks seriously lack any kind of storyline. They may have a 'plot', i.e. so-and-so meets so-and-so and they fall for each other and then do it in a Volkswagen during their lunch break, but they have no real story to speak of, nothing that would make you remember that tale for more than five minutes after reading it. The only way to distinguish between those kind of pure-porn pieces is how many people are involved and which particular sexual acts occur in which order. It's like story-by-numbers.
The key to an enjoyable ride is in powering up the plot: think of it as a roller coaster: you have to get on somewhere safe, then you build up to that first thrill, then it gets wiggly and you throw up all over the huge bald Republican sitting behind you and...well, perhaps that was a bad analogy. The truth is that there is no easy way to think of a plot if you are really stuck for ideas. But that doesn't mean you should give up, now, does it?
There are six main questions involved in a story: Who, Where, What, How, Why and When. Try making up answers to all of these questions, and you will have a storyline in no time.
If you get truly lost for ideas, then you need some assistance. First of all, things that can spark some inspiration: firstly, you might get an idea purely from experimenting with setting. Sit down, relax, and imagine a place where you could some characters might interact. Don't just think of the usual suburban house in a neighbourhood similar to your own, really let your mind wonder. Hmm...how about the French Riviera? A sleepy little fishing village on the Côte D'Azur...the Mediterranean sea lapping against the shore as the sun begins to set...or how about the frozen north? A storm rages while two people hide out in a snow cavern, huddling together for warm...have a look at a world map, pick somewhere different-looking, somewhere unusual, maybe somewhere romantic.
Perhaps do some research on the internet to find out roughly what the place is like – if you need to, you can always ask people for assistance in your research on the Literotica forum. Different places invoke different sentiments. Once you've picked an exotic or wild or fascinating place, just have a think how two lost souls might end up there. Perhaps one of them has a murky past and has fled their original country. Perhaps one of them was getting away from it all after a tragic divorce. Perhaps it's just a vacation thing.
Don't just think three-dimensionally, though. The great thing about setting is that you aren't restricted to modern-day life. Try setting your story in the past, perhaps in some golden age of castles and knights in shining armour, perhaps not so long ago - a love affair caught up in the Russian Revolution of 1917. And there's always the future, which has the great advantage of not requiring much in the way of research. It can be how you want it to be. Humanity living in space? Go for it. Two lovers on the run from a ruthless police force in a world run by genetic cloning where natural sex is illegal. Interactions in a future cyberspace, perhaps.
Another way to get ideas is through the characters. Pick two strange people, and then explore how they might meet – is it blind luck or is it destiny? Where do they meet? Why do they meet? Think about those six questions again but with these two (or more) characters you have created. A popular idea is two people of very different character – the renowned 'opposites attract' idea – or people who connect on some deep level they've never experienced before, or people who live on different sides of a conflict (think Romeo and Juliet). Character-driven plots are limitless because like human beings, there are an infinite number of variables you can put into a character.
Don't be afraid to take inspiration from existing stories. Just so long as you write all the text yourself and don't use copyrighted characters without permission, you can explore whatever you like within reason. You cannot put a copyright on an idea, only on actual writing, actual text on a page. If you read a story that really turns you on about a policewoman catching a notorious cat burglar and falling in love with him helplessly on the ride to the police station, and you feel you could explore that kind of scenario further, then use that idea. Just twist it slightly to allow your own creativity to flourish. So you might like to write a story about a female bounty hunter instead of that cop, a tough girl with remorseless devotion to the law. She hunts down a charming, highly cultured diamond thief and finds to her horror that she cannot stop thinking about him. Where do you think that would lead?
Again, as with your characters, don't be afraid to take ideas from the movies. Was there a particularly inspiring love scene that really melted your heart and made you want to see more? Then take that idea further than the movie did. Did you love that scene in that wonderful Steven Soderbergh movie Out of Sight? A bunch of boastful advertising men try to pick up Jennifer Lopez in a restaurant while the Detroit snow falls outside in the darkness. She ignores them all, then George Clooney, the escaped bank robber, appears and offers to buy her a drink, which she accepts immediately with the warmest smile. Take that situation, and transplant it to a new setting, with different characters, but keep the essence that made you love that scene from the movie. So now you have Julia Stretton, who is sitting at a beach bar on the Pacific Coast, thinking about that wonderful man she was prevented from dating because of Fate all those months ago. She sits there and a bunch of arrogant preppy boys turn up and start hitting on her. She bats them all away cruelly, and they pass comment that she'd just frigid, anyway. But then he turns up. Simon Faulkner. The man she just couldn't get out of her mind for months, the man who had been taken away from her by the cruel hand of Fate. She agrees instantly to go with him...and so on. The idea is the same, but the situation and the characters are different, so it is a different story. You are then free to explore it as much as you like: Simon Faulkner is a Russian spy who is so in love with Julia Stretton that he would betray his Motherland for just one more chance to see her smile, perhaps.
Your scores will definitely head upwards if you provide the reader with interesting situations. Just have a good think – it'll all work out.
3. Language: the writer's paint
For an erotic story, the sex scene is the focal point: so don't disappoint your reader, don't shy away from description. You may have an interesting order of play, but those votes will be far higher if you really put us in the picture.
When you're writing, and especially when you're writing the sex scene or scenes, try and use all five senses. What does it feel like? How does it look? How do they taste? What are their fragrances like? What noises does they make? Don't be afraid of reminding the reader every now and then just how rich and amazing an experience it is you are recounting - with all those wonderful five senses. Just don't repeat the actual words you've used before.
The danger of just saying 'this happened and then this happened and then after that this happened and then that' is that the sex scene will be sex-scene-by-numbers again. Bad karma. Rich and detailed descriptions in sex scenes lead to very favourable responses from readers, believe me. What kind of panties was she wearing? How much pubic hair was there? How did he feel about the softness of her breasts? What does she think about his strong arms and gentle hands? Details lead to authority in writing.
A few more pointers on language: don't put words in capitals to emphasise them – you should trust the reader to know where the stresses are in the sentences - capitals are unnecessary and give writing an amateur feel. Try and use brackets as sparingly as possible - it's very rare in fiction that you actually need them, and your writing will come across with more maturity and integrity without them. If you write a sentence and suddenly realise that you have to explain what you've referred to because you didn't explain earlier, go back to an earlier part of the story and put in the explanation. For example:
David was sitting in the dark corner of the bar sipping a diet soda (he was not yet old enough to drink beer).
The explanation of the first part of the sentence just doesn't need to be in brackets – even if you don't want to go back earlier in the story and tell us how old David is, you can still re-word this sentence slightly to avoid those brackets. Brackets prevent the language from flowing, and whenever you write, you should be making it as easy as possible for the reader's eyes to pass along the sentences.
When you write sex scenes, try to steer away from having characters saying things like 'Oooooooooohhhhhhhh Ggggggggoooooooooooddddd' and so on - it's another little thing that points to immature writing. There's been a few conversations between writers and editors on the Literotica forum about this. The best thing to do is to just describe the scream/moan/groan - use similes and metaphors, perhaps. Just writing out strings of letters like that will bring down your story's score.
Remember to vary your terminology a little. Using the word 'cunt' all the time, for example, can get up some readers' noses. There are a lot of words out there that can be used in beautiful evocations of that heavenly area – if you can't think of them, just scout around other stories on Literotica and check out what everyone else is using. Using similar words and varying them will add quality to your writing. Apart from common words, try and make sure you never use a word twice in the same paragraph.
Avoid the use of exclamation marks unless really, really necessary. Your words should motivate the emotions, not your punctuation. A boring situation isn't made more dramatic or exciting by just adding exclamation marks – instead, the writing will just appear cheesy and tacky.
4. The myth of difficult dialogue
People who can't write dialogue are kidding themselves. Just because your first name's not Quentin, doesn't mean you have to accept that you'll never write good dialogue. All you have to do is think of what you want your characters to say, then imagine that you have to convey that information to someone else yourself, aloud. What would you say in the situation? The key to good dialogue if you're not fully confident is to read what you've written aloud. Is that really how people speak? People usually speak using shortened forms of words like 'cannot' and 'do not', so it often sounds more natural to use 'can't and 'don't'. An example for you:
"I do not want to go out with you this evening, Michael, for I wish to spend time with my daughter who is home from college right now," she said.
Read that line out loud, and despite the fact that it is grammatically perfect, no one would speak to anyone like that in the real world. It sounds stuffy, pompous, snobbish, and poor dialogue like that can alienate readers from the character. As I've said earlier, if your characters don't connect with the reader, their votes are going to pull down your score. It's obvious how bad that line is when you read it aloud, but it's not impossible to fix. Just think exactly what information the character needs to convey to another character, and imagine what you would say in the situation. Remember, too, that people usually speak in short sentences with simple clauses. So if we were to rearrange our example, we'd probably some up with something like this:
"I'm sorry Michael," she said, "but I can't go with you tonight – my daughter's home from college and really I need to spend some time with her."
You might even do a better job than I have with the line above, but you get the idea. Dialogue on the page doesn't need to be exactly as would be spoken in real life – otherwise there would be stumbling and hesitations all over the place – but it does need to flow in a realistic manner. But you can do it – you know instantly when someone you're talking to sounds like a nutter: so when you read out your dialogue, if you sound weird, or the line seems in any way unnatural, you need to alter it a little.
5. Avoid disappointment: give your story a strong ending
A lot of people just don't think about the structure of their story – they just write whatever seems to come next. Sometimes, that process works out well: if your storyline is strong enough, you might not even have to worry about the structure, it may just come naturally. But typically, blind luck doesn't lead to good story structure, and if you don't give your readers a good structure, you'll lose their attention.
So, first of all, you need a beginning, a middle and an ending. The beginning is critical to get your reader into the story, the middle is important to keep them with you and the ending needs to be good to leave them with a good taste in their mouth, so to speak.