#WritingTips From a Non-expert. #AskAuthor

This is a question I get asked often (at least once a week), so I’m reposting this from FB. Next time I answer it, all I’ll have to do is send this link. I’m all about efficiency.

Friend: Do you have any writing tips for me? I don’t even know where to start.

Dicey: *I am no expert, and I hardly consider myself a “successful” writer, but for some friends, I am the only one they know personally who has taken this dream of writing/publishing books and run with it. In that regard, they consider me an inspiration. I am humbled by that, and do not take it lightly. So I answer their questions as best I can…after giving my disclaimer. These are my tips on how to get started with writing a book. Feel free to share yours in a comment below.*

#1: Read a lot of books. Most successful (more so than me) writers will tell you this is the biggest factor in being a good writer. If you want to write fiction, you should probably stick to reading fiction. Just mix up the genre a bit. See who writes in the way you aspire to and learn from them by absorbing how they do it. Then tweak it until you’ve formed your own style.

#2: Be passionate about writing, and be passionate about the story you want to write. This will get you through writing slumps, being harsh on yourself when things aren’t going exactly how you want them to, and those times when you feel alone in marketing/promoting the work you’ve labored over but it’s not getting the support and attention it deserves. In order to be a good writer, it can’t be a passing fancy or just something you want to try. You have to feel in your heart that it’s a part of you.

#3: Write every day. Even when I’m not working on a book, I’m finding a way to put my thoughts into written word via blogging (more like Facebooking, these days), long debates on social media, emails, forums, you name it. When being a writer is who you are, you won’t have any other choice but to write. Do it daily.

#4: Get organized (writing space, materials, scheduling) and prepare to spend lots of time on each writing project. When it comes to organizing your writing, you’ll have to try different methods and see which one fits you best. Some outline their book ahead of time. Others write as they go. Maybe start with an outline and see how that works. Either way, START writing your book, and most importantly–FINISH it.

#5: Read a “how to write” guide, if you really have difficulty starting. I haven’t read it, but a lot of writers swear by Stephen King’s manual On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: http://amzn.to/1wAAT57 He’s certainly waaaay more successful at writing than I am, so it’s probably worth checking out. You can read his top 20 rules for writers here.

Good luck!

Writing Sex Scenes Part II.

I’ve only completed two novels–that’s the disclaimer. Readers have commented on how much they love the sex scenes in my books–that’s my validation. That’s what qualifies me to give tips. I don’t purport to be an expert. I don’t pretend these will work for everyone. I’m sure others write better scenes…or ones more suitable to particular tastes. But I have had some experience with it. And since I’m still a lowly indie author, I’ll actually take the time to share my techniques with you.

WARNING: This is another post for the grown and sexy. Do NOT read further if discussions about sex offend you…and you happened to have missed the title.

Last week, Thomas Bryant and I discussed writing sex scenes. It was short. It was funny. And it was a good intro to today’s tips for writing sex scenes. You can read it here.

After said post, fellow indie author, Alesha Escobar, had this to say: “Okay, I confess I’m still a wimp when it comes to this. If I’m feeling awkward, it’s going to come across in the scene–then I just look like a dork. I know I’m supposed to stay away from purple prose and laughable metaphors. So any advice? :-)

Thomas Bryant’s advice: “I did mention a bottle of wine, didn’t I, Alesha?”

I agree with Thomas. Wine does help.

Here are some other tips for writing sex scenes:

1. Enjoy sex. Enjoy talking about it. Enjoy watching it. Enjoy reading it. Enjoy writing it.

Why? Because…

a. If you enjoy sex and make it a daily part of your discussions, thoughts, and lifestyle, that passion will translate on paper.

b. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll hurry through a scene. You’ll have a bunch of words with no depth. You’ll just be going through the motions and so will your characters.

c. The more you enjoy sexy situations, the more you will write them. The more you write sex scenes, the better you get at sex writing sex scenes. 🙂

Downside: you may go overboard. I have been told by one reader to tone DOWN the sex a bit. So, take my tips with a grain of salt. Decide how important your sex scenes are to your story and prepare accordingly. My characters are sexy, wild, daring, and risky. So sex is pretty integral. I keep the characters in mind, not readers. My target audience will love the characters AND the sex scenes.

Which leads me to…

2. Forget everybody else. If you’re thinking about what your mommy, preacher, children or whomever are going to think, you won’t be able to let your characters go in order to do what they want to do. You’re writing fiction. Later for whoever doesn’t get that.

3. Get in a sexy mind frame before you start writing a scene. If you’re doing #1, this will be easy. And this is where Bryant’s suggestion of wine helps. I like to create a sexy atmosphere. Visualize what my characters are going to do. Then describe it as if I am in the moment with them. Freaky? Maybe. But it works.

4. Read lots of sex scenes. Figure out who writes the ones you enjoy the most. Figure out why. Learn from that author.

I’ve read LOTS of books. Discovered I liked books with sex in them the most (which is why YA is not my favorite genre). Disliked the overly sappy ones. Disliked the solely erotic ones. Enjoyed a good plot with good sex scenes the best. Once I started reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, I was ruined for other authors. I discovered I liked the choppy style. The fast-paced, raunchy way of describing the acts. And that’s where I adopted my style from. It’s uniquely mine, but highly influenced by hers.

Find your influence. Roll with it.

5. Don’t be awkward. Be fun. Be sexy.

How?

Remember that sex is a natural part of life. As far as I know, we all come with genitalia and the urge to use them for more than bodily functions. In fact, with nearly seven billion people in the world, it’s obvious there’s a lot of sex going on. It should be celebrated. Revered.

Don’t feel embarrassed. Don’t feel shy. Keep in mind you’re writing about something everybody does…or wish they did. It’s what people do behind closed doors. And that’s where they’re going to read your books with YOUR sex scenes.

6. Write the scenes as your characters would experience them. You’re just the narrator. They are the participants. My character, Joanne, in Shameful does some bad stuff…but none of that is as bad as what my character, Willow, does in Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul. Why? Because Willow’s a vampire based in fantasy and Joanne’s a wife and mother based in reality. Willow and Joanne both have sex, but their experiences are very different because of who they are.

These are tips from the top of my head. I’ll do a Part III when I think of more. If you’re an author with a tip to share, by all means–leave a comment.