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The Joy of Writing Neurotica

A Neurotic, and Timely, Romp Through the Archives

I’m biting my fingernails. I don’t know if I should tell you this or not. I don’t know what you’ll think of me if I do. I’ve racked my brain for hours, and I’ve lost sleep over trying to decide if I should share my secret. But then I wonder if you already know. Some of my close friends know because I confided in them, though they might possibly have already figured it out. Most of them are okay with it. Really. At least I think so …Most of them understand and are even empathetic. At least I hope so …

Okay, I’m just going to take a deep breath and tell you! Here goes!

I’m very, very neurotic. There. I said it. It’s the truth. I’m neurotic, and most writers are! No wait, that’s such a blanket statement. Please, if you’re a writer who isn’t neurotic, please don’t take it personally. I really didn’t mean to insult you or anything, and I hope you’ll forgive me and like me anyway.

My neuroses are many, but I have two biggies. The first is guilt. I feel guilty for watching three episodes of The Tudors on an evening when the Work in Progress is waiting untouched on the computer. Just because I wrote all day long doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have written a few more hours. Being a member of the international guild of neurotic writers means I always feel guilty, and if I don’t, then I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. I feel guilty for not writing enough. I feel guilty for writing too much and not keeping up with the housework. I feel guilty for needing too much sleep when I’m sure I should be writing. I feel guilty for not being able to sleep when I do go to bed. And since I can’t sleep shouldn’t I be up writing? Or cleaning house?

Writing imageMy other biggie is that I worry. I worry all the time. I feel guilty if I’m not worrying because surely I’ve missed something important or I’d be worrying. I worry that someone won’t like what I’ve written, and if they don’t like my baby, I worry that maybe they’re right not to like my baby and maybe my baby really is ugly and I just can’t see it. And if they don’t like my baby, maybe they don’t like me either. I worry about sales, I worry about promos. I worry about deadlines, I worry about rewrites. I worry about what will happen if I wake up in the morning and can’t think of a single word to write. I worry if my tomato plants will get blight this year, and I worry about the strange noise that comes out of our water heater periodically. My husband says I worry over just about everything. Still, I worry that I’ve missed something.

Guilt and worry. Those are the biggies. There are others. Lots of others. I’m afraid of loud noises too, and I don’t like rubber bands, but those are fairly innocuous compared to guilt and worry.

So now that you’ve heard my confession, here’s the part where when life gives me lemons I make lemonade. I write neurotica! That’s it. You heard me right. I write neurotica. It’s sort of a ‘physician heal thyself ‘tactic, really. It’s a case of me projecting all my lovely neuroses onto my characters and watching the crazy, twitchy, unbalanced fun unfold. Come on now, I can’t be the only writer who does this, am I? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone. Really! I believe you if you say you don’t do that. I even believe you if you say you don’t have any neuroses to project onto your characters. However, if you are neurotic and you’re not really using your neuroses on your characters at the moment, can I borrow them? I’ve got this new story in mind …

It’s true though, I can create the most realistic, multi-layered guilt complexes in my characters. And angst, oh how I can write angst! And every time one of my characters wrings her hands and walks the floor in the middle of a sleepless night. I nail it. And every time my character feels guilty for not being open and honest and carefree and at home in her own skin, boy, do I nail it. My characters are my therapy, poor things, and in some strange way they make me feel better about myself. They make me feel a little less neurotic. They exist in my head, and yet they often give me insights into my own unpristine psyche that I would otherwise miss. How do they do that? Is it only because of my projection? I feel sort of guilty for being so mean to them sometimes. But then I worry that maybe I’m just being too soft and sentimental about the whole thing.


Finessing Sex Notes: Post Your Exercise on Irregular Voice

I’ve been asked for the notes from my Eroticon writing workshop, Finessing Sex and the In Media Res exercise I used at the end, so here they are. Sadly, the forty-five minute time allotted to us meant that most of the people in the workshop didn’t get the chance to share their work. The lovely Mia Moor has kindly taken it upon herself to solve that problem by allowing anyone who participated or anyone who wasn’t able to attend the workshop but wants to do the exercise to post their creative efforts on her wonderful website, Irregular Voice Thank you SO much, Mia, for sharing your site! You’re the best.

Below are the notes from the hand-out I used, which I’ll also pass on to Ruby for the Eroticon site. I’ve added just enough to clarify where needed. Enjoy!




Part 1: Creating Characters                           

Create at least two characters, and give yourself five minutes to create a very rough character sketch of each. Feel free to use characters from a story you’re working on and use the scene for your story or simply use the exercise for raw material. Do whatever you want with your characters as long as by the end of your scene at least one character has sex

Number one rule: Write! Keep on writing! Don’t stop!

Setting yourself a limited amount of time in which to brainstorm a topic or a character is a fantastic way to get beyond the internal editor to the good stuff! Allow yourself to play with the words and have fun.

Part 2: Cause some chaos. Ask yourself:

1. How can the sex scene you’re about to create have the most impact in your plot?writing-image-2-225x300

2. What are the consequences of this sex scene?

3. Who is affected by this sex act?

4. What revelation does this sex scene bring about?

5. How can this sex scene be used most affectively to drive your story?

Remember! Sex should NEVER be gratuitous. Sex always serves a purpose.

6. When the sex is over, how will the landscape of the story be changed?

Part 3: Choosing a POV. Ask yourself:

1. From whose POV is the sex in this scene most interesting. Why?

(If you choose to write your scene from the third person objective POV, why is that the best POV?)

2. Whose POV will best move your story forward? Why?

3. Whose POV will result in the most chaos?

4. Whose POV will give the most emotional charge?

5. Who has the most baggage?

Hint: Baggage is one of the best tools for helping choose POV. Baggage is what every person carries from childhood, from traumas, from past sexual experiences or lack thereof, from anything within the emotional place where your character is when you write her/him having sex.

Note: Not all of these questions may be satisfied by one character’s POV. You’ll have to choose which POV will best serve the story. Sometimes the most important thing about the POV character is the insights he/she offers the reader into another character!

Part 4: The ‘Photo Shoot’

Think of the scene you’re writing in terms of a series of snap shots. You, the writer, are now the photographer, and you get to choose the snapshots you believe will give your reader the most vivid experience of the story you’re telling. Remember, the ultimate voyeur in the story will be your reader, so make the scene worth looking at. Think in terms of:

1. The physical attribute of your characters.

2. Using all of the senses.

3. What does the person who’s POV you’re writing from actually think about her/his experience of sex. The running internal commentary can sometimes be the sexiest part of a sex scene, or the most revealing. Remember, this is why you’ve chosen this person’s POV.

4. The language used in the sex scene is also a powerful tool for eliciting emotion, arousal, a sense of who these people shagging are, what matters to them, and how they experience sex.

5. Location can raise the risk factor, raise the discomfort level, raise the heat level and affect the pacing of the scene.

Step 5: Write it!

1. In Media Res. Minimise the setup and start in the middle of the action. Tell the story from the inside out.

2. Remember! Editors are busy folks. They may give you as few as three paragraphs. If you hold their interest for three, then you get a fourth. If you enthral them for four, then you get a fifth …

Your job is to start at the point that grips and make the reader unable to leave until they find out what has happened to put your characters in such a position.

The Exercise: Using the above tools, write for ten minutes. Write without stopping; write without slowing down. Start in the middle of the action and create some chaos as quickly as possible.

Now write like the wind!

And when you’re finished, don’t forget to head on over to Mia’s site, Irregular Voice, and add your results and check out what everyone else came up with.

Helpful Sites:

Erotica Readers and Writers Association: http://www.erotica-readers.com/

Erotica for All: http://eroticaforall.co.uk/

How to Write Erotic Fiction: http://howtowriteeroticfiction.blogspot.co.uk/

The Erotic Literary Salon: http://theeroticsalon.com/

My Websites: https://kdgrace.co.uk/ , http://gracemarshallromance.co.uk/

Helpful Books:                  

Writing Erotica:

How To Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes — Ashley Lister

How to Write a Dirty Story –Susie Bright

Writing Erotic Fiction – Pamela Rochford

Love Writing: How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction – Sue Moorcroft

Writing Craft and Inspiration:

Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg

Best book ever on giving yourself permission to write badly in order to get to the good stuff.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Brown and Dave King

Best book on self-editing and honing craft I’ve found.


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