Do’s and Dont’s of Writing Spell Casting Scenes

Nobody writes graphic descriptions in their spell casting scenes, and if you do you will look like a big stupid head.  Here’s an arbitrary list of rules; if you don’t pay attention your book will suck, you will suck, and you will get an award for Sucky Writing.

  1. Don’t be graphic.  Don’t use words like rod, staff or wand, or how it sparkles and vibrates.  It’s tacky, and we know you have that thing helping you make magic. Everybody has one.
  2. Don’t talk about the mechanics of magic.  We all know it’s swish and flick. Don’t go describing it.
  3. Don’t describe the results.  Don’t tell us how the character fell to the ground afterwards, gasping for breath, exhausted from expending so much energy.  Or how they are buzzed from the residue of making magic; it’s icky.
  4. Don’t focus on the magical act.  Tell me about the smell of dog across the street, or the way the light makes a pattern on the wall.
  5. Less is more.  You must make your reader struggle to understand that a magic spell is being cast, or what is the point of writing?  How else are you going to trick them into re-reading your wonderful words?

Does this look familiar?  Despite the excessive level of snark, it’s pretty close to the articles that keep crossing my Facebook and Twitter feed.  If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m tired of the “How to Write Sex Scenes” articles regurgitating the same tips.  Why do so many different article writers use the same phrases over and over?  Is there some master article that they are all paraphrasing?  Do you get paid a bonus if you re-write and re-post these sex scene shaming tips?

Why aren’t there just as many articles about how to properly write a spell casting scene, or a fight scene, or any other specific type of scene.  I don’t know how many badly written fistfights I’ve glossed over because it’s a list of moves, and not putting me in the moment.  However, I don’t decide the writer is worthless based on that scene.

Can’t we–as writers–judge for ourselves if we are using the right tone for our stories?  As a culture, we are trying to be more openminded about sexuality and gender.  Can’t our characters reflect that, unafraid to express their sexuality, or must they all be stuck in the morals of a past century?

I also have a real pet peeve about how sentences are excised from books, then held up as bad writing for all to see.  What about context?  Maybe it’s a bit purple, but was it a natural progression in the story?  What is purple for one book could be fine for the next, and too weak for the following book.  What one reader thinks is too purple could be acceptable for the next person.

I understand that a lot of people may not like my writing style, but I’m a proud member of the Order of the Occult Hand (although they haven’t told me what the current phrase is, the Bastards).  Euphuisms–and even clichés–are your friends, because they evoke an immediate reaction.

Sex can be a lot of things, good and bad.  Sometimes it makes you hyper-focused or feel your existence is exploding into everything.  Sometimes it’s badly awkward or happening for all the wrong reasons.  Sometimes it’s so intimate that you feel as if you are inside your partner’s soul.  I reserve the right to tell the story the way it wants to be told.  You reserve the right to not read it.

 

 

 

Fear of… Lists

Reasons I haven’t given my manuscript to my beta reader(s);

  1. I need to go through it one more time, to look for bad grammar that would ruin the reading experience.
  2. I have future slang I need to make sure is the correct slang for each character, and that they are using it correctly.
  3. I need to do a text-to-speech run through, for errors that would ruin the reading experience.
  4. I need to be sure I have firmly decided on the characters names.  “Final answer?”
  5. It’s trash.
  6. It’s smutty trash.
  7. It’s smutty trash that nobody should be forced to read.
  8. Especially if want to be able to look them in the eye, ever again.
  9. I need to take an axe to all the sex scenes.
  10. How many sex scenes does it have?
  11. Should I count the sex scenes?  What would be too many?
  12. How many penis jokes is too many?
  13. I need to do a major revision.
  14. I need to take a chainsaw to all the adjectives and adverbs.
  15. Did I really ‘show’, not ‘tell’?
  16. Did I give enough descriptions?
  17. Did I give too much description?
  18. I need to re-design my blog.
  19. I need to post more on Facebook and Twitter.
  20. I need to set up the Pintrest account.
  21. I still don’t have a web page, and Word Press offers to attach one to your blog.
  22. I need to write my weekly blog, and I’m searching for a topic. The manuscript can wait.
  23. I need to go lay down until my heart calms down. Or lie, or layed… lieded…something.
  24. If someone asks how it is going, say, “It’s a process, and I’m really happy with it.”
  25. Oooh, Cats in Space Quoting Scientists.  LIKE!

Writing Erotica; How deep will you go?

First of all, this should be the last time this blog will appear on my personal Facebook page. I plan on having the Danae Wulfe author page up by next Wednesday, and all ‘writing’ posts will be coming from there.  I don’t plan on cross posting.  If you have enjoyed reading these blogs or my other posts, please keep an eye out for the new page.

Word count for the Beta draft is 144,221.  I’m five chapters from the end.  I’m getting excited to finish, do some final editing, make up a few more ‘Sci-fi’ words, and give it to some Beta readers.  I’m noticing my brain seems to be a different shape then when I started. Is this normal?

That should be enough words to keep the Facebook post clean, so lets get down to the dirty bits.  18 and over, please!

Ok, you have decided what kinds of words you are going to use for your sex scene, unless your character decided for you.  (Mine did.)

Now, you have to decide how detailed you are going to get.  Vague descriptions, or as detailed as a sex manual. Maybe somewhere in between?  Are you a nearsighted nun describing something seen through a frosted window?  The average person?  A doctor describing a procedure performed under strong lights? A professional dominatrix paid by the dirty word?

Do you know what?  Doesn’t matter.  No matter what you choose, lots of people will think you are  wrong, and a bad writer.

I’ll admit it, the first time I read a modern graphic sex scene, I was shocked. I kept feeling that I was reading something Not Allowed and couldn’t understand why it was just sitting on a shelf, where anyone could pick it up. It should have been wrapped in brown paper and behind the counter, requiring you to ask for it.  The pictures it made in my head, so… intense. So real. So… erotic.

e-rot-ic  adj.  1. Of or concerning sexual love and desire; amatory.  2.Tending to arouse sexual desire.

The more research I do, on writers, erotica, and publishers, the more I find a subtle-and not so subtle-disapproval for writers and publishers who use graphic depictions, even by those who consider themselves unbiased.  It’s labeled ‘porn’, regardless of the depth of the story, and disregarded as serious writing, BUT somehow makes sales.  Sometimes, LOTS of sales, but that apparently only compounds its offenses.

I get it, as a society we are struggling with our sexuality, both as individuals and as ‘groups’.  We still seem to think we have the right to decide if someone is too slutty, too prudish, too confused or just wrong.  You want to have an opinion? Great. It’s normal for the mind to form opinions based on your experiences. Just don’t expect everyone else to subscribe to your particular flavor of morality.

Books are the ultimate in virtual reality.  In its pages you can explore issues, fears, hopes and fantasies.  They can pose the big questions, in a safe but challenging environment. What bothers you about ‘Tom Sawyer’ or ‘The Color Purple’ or ‘Atlas Shrugged’ or ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ or…

Did I lose you? Possibly, but that’s ok.  It’s a hot button, for a lot of people.

Back to the word ‘erotic’.  The definition mentions sexual love.  So, if I’m doing my job right, as a writer, the description of a first touch, or a first kiss, should be considered ‘erotic’, just as much as the first penetration. Before, during, and after a sexual encounter is an especially open and vulnerable point in a relationship.

Some religions think there are three points that you can touch spiritual enlightenment; birth, sex, and death.  Sex is the only one of those you can normally do more than once. Personally, I believe this is why the sex act changes a relationship permanently, either for good or for bad.

Heck, if I am doing my job, the clenched fist hitting the face of your enemy should FEEL visceral.  (Hopefully, not erotic.)  Also, you should FEEL as if you are piloting the space craft, dancing at the Ball, eating the weird foods, and consoling your best friend. Why should I flinch away from sex?

You’re still thinking about ‘Fifty Shades’, aren’t you?  sigh.

Look for my next blog, Erotica; Guilty Pleasure or Evil Incarnate?  In the interim, leave a comment and we can discuss things…