Wonderful blog post with all sorts of good info and links. Fantastic job!
I remember once having a lengthy and somewhat gruesome chat about how you would dispose of a body in these recycling focused days. Would you drop it by the medical school? Dissect it and put the hip joints and such in either the plastic or metal recycling containers? Take the head and the mercury fillings to the harmful waste dump day?
It’s a conundrum.
Likewise, how do you learn to write about murder most foul? Merely calling up your local cop shop and asking for tips might lead to awkward questions and notes home from school asking you to please not offer to chaperone the next field trip. Calling a local psychiatrist and pretending to be a psychopath isn’t recommended, either – unfortunately, so much psychiatry is based on first impressions you might end up with way too much time to write and too many drugs to be coherent.
The obvious choice is to read read read read mysteries, following the excellent (if somewhat dry) Francine Prose’s guidelines to Reading like a writer. Well, I’ve done that, and I have a problem with that approach.
If the mystery is good, I get all wrapped up in the story and race through, barely noticing the plot techniques while I get pulled along. If it’s bad, I only notice the things that hold it up, ruin the credibility.
I remember once being so disenchanted with a book that I dropped everything to see if the plant the author had described actually grew in the place she’d put it. (It didn’t).
I know a book has missed the mark for me when I get that fussy.
So I take courses, rub up against “real” writers, shop my stuff to contests and unsuspecting friends, try to get critiqued. This last bit is harder than it looks. Even in writing groups, there’s the tendency to be nice.
One of my stories involved a pedophile that I apparently described so well that people didn’t want to read my stuff anymore. So I had to play nicey nicey and write nicey stuff for a bit.
So, instead, I send things to contests. The ones that give you feedback. I figure I’m paying someone my entry fee to have a close, uninvolved reader have a look.
Sometimes the feedback is useful, sometimes it’s just a line or two. Sometimes it is harsh, sometimes it’s helpful. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to turn it around and offer my comments on other’s writing. I can only hope I’m the helpful type.
In the meantime, I’ve had help from:
and my favourite resource for ways to kill people and those awkward dinner table silences:
D.P. Lyle. Check out his books. Best way to find stuff out without getting asked questions you can’t answer…
Now, finally, a blog topic that won’t involve endless self-examination and revelation and such. Phew.
Because I haven’t done any crimes.
Okay, I remember ONE TIME where I stole something. I was in grade 5. I STILL feel guilty about it. Ashamed, bad, totally awful. I’d make amends to the harmed party but I am too embarrassed to admit I did it.
So picture what would happen if I killed someone?
As it is, even a gentle thought crossing my mind about whether I’d like to kiss someone or potentially push them under a car – well, it’s all printed on my face. I’d never be able to lie about myself.
As a nurse and a writer, though, I can lie about other people. Thank heavens. Even if the lie is, ultimately, the truth – or at least it would be if I write as well as I hope.
In the meantime, head on over to the National Crime Writing Blog by the Crime Writers of Canada, and read how some pros handle criminous thinking/writing/acting. It’ll be worth your time…
And that’s no crime….
Often, in a gathering of writers (what IS the proper collective noun? A scrawl of writers? A clattering of writers? A thesaurus of writers?), wisdoms shared expand to more global proportions.
Yesterday I was thrilled to attend the Romantic Writers of Atlantic Canada’s event on publishing your first novel. As with the mystery writers I hang out with more regularly, the crowd and panel were so wonderfully friendly and open and willing to help each other out. Even if I never ever publish a book, I like hanging out with these guys/gals – they are people worth knowing.
Lilly Cain writes erotic fiction, and was discussing how she is now writing a series of sweet romances and having trouble bringing down the steam rating. The quote above was from that discussion – she is used to having a certain number of words dedicated to hot scenes and now has to fill the space in with other words, actions, adventures.
Something about her statement resonated more deeply with me.
Sex as a word count…a space holder…a part of life, not so important, but needed in its own way. Without it, you must fill in the empty spaces with other activity, other stories. With it…well, life may be more full and rounded but you might miss out on some of the other generative activities you may use to fill up your own personal word count.
It becomes a balance, the sex, no sex, too much sex, not enough sex thing.
In writing, steaminess level (like bloodiness level) determines where your book is placed, whether a given publisher will buy it, who will be turned on or turned away. Many people write erotica under a pen name so that they can have a safe “real” identity. I know my tell all book about my post-marriage life won’t be arriving under my real name. Oh no.
In life, there are costs to pay for taking a relationship to that new, sexual, level – friendship becomes more difficult, things seem more fraught, you feel either intensely attracted or repelled, you feel shame or love or regret or joy. I used to believe it was something that people made too much fuss over, but I could have been wrong there.
In both, sex takes up time and thought and memory and room. How much and how it tilts your story is up to you.
For more thoughts, check out Lit Drift…or Tayari Jones (click on the cartoon to link to her blog), or Steve Almond’s article from the UTNE Reader: (I’m having trouble getting wordpress to accept another hyperlink…) http://www.utne.com/Literature/How-To-Write-A-Sex-Scene.aspx
Will be revising my book over June, hoping to send it out shortly afterwards…;-)
I’m not a winner, but a contendah in the top 12, for “Recycled Virgins”
And if youa re a woman, trying to achieve anything, get really really angry.
Those of you who know me well know that I’ve been having my adventures in the over 50 dating circuit. It’s madness out there.
If your marriage has even a whisper of hope, and there’s no abuse going on, take it from me and do what you can to stick out the dry spells.
Totally worth it. Dating stinks and if you ask anyone they’ll tell you true. All there is out here are people with bundles of unknown neuroses, and in that I include myself. At least with my ex, the neuroses were known quantities.
I used to believe I was having a good time. I blame excessive medication. Now the shades have fallen from my eyes, and I’m cool with the chum thing. Though I know I’ll miss kissing. I like kissing. And some other things…
Not to say I haven’t had some laughs enroute – some sad sighs, some giggles, some outright guffaws (and those of you who know what I mean when I say PCE know I’m not referring to you). The other morning I woke up and started laughing out loud, all by myself, in my packed up bedroom. Took me five minutes to stop.
I have a good friend who thinks there’s a sitcom in my adventures. I’d probably title it something to do with The Wizard of Oz, me being named Dorothy and all, and the fact that most, if not all, of these men who make me laugh think they are wizards in the bedroom.
It’s so tempting.
I would have to write under a pseudonym, of course, or I’d never date again. Although at this point, that might be okay…
Or be allowed to see my kids. Hahahahahah. By them.
But it’s such a fun idea…I have met all the characters from the movie already, even the door guard in the Emerald City (and yeah, I know he was really the Wizard but that’s kindof the point, no?)
Honestly, you couldn’t make some of this stuff up. And the visuals! I’m still rinsing out my eyes after the last ones. While snickering. Seinfeld and I could relate.
And, if nothing else, if I wrote it all down I could remember it all, and regale my friends in the home with my stories. Or shock the grandkids, if I ever have any. And if I’m allowed within 50 yards of them…
Traversing the Border between Butch and Trans*
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