Self Editing Do or Don’t? And where to start

I say DO! I can list many reasons I self edited and self proofed my novel. While I did have some help it was not that of a professional. I am not anti-professional. By all means if you have the luxury of using a professional editor, go ahead. I would have loved the help of a professional editor. However not only can I not afford a professional, I also do not know any professionals who would have done the work for free. With that being said, that was my number one reason for editing my own novel. Some say the author is too close to the work to properly edit it. While I can understand, perhaps relate and maybe even agree with that thought, I still did not feel the need to hire an editor. Call me unconventional but I feel there are many ways to explore becoming a successful author.

Even if you choose to go with professional editing, the writer is responsible for making their work as neat and tidy, and well written as is possible. Spell checking, grammar and structure are just some of the things you have to look at before you can even begin to call a story or novel publish ready. Even though I always did well in English class, I still find I make common mistakes.  One big one for me was comma use. I used to add a comma after words like however, yet, and but. It was in prepping for my GED that I was taught when you use a word that means the same as a comma, or is a way to pause then you do not follow that word with a comma. To this day I almost add a comma after but or however…then I stop and remember my GED teacher and what I was taught.

Spell Check should always be where you start, even with self editing. Spell check can be your best friend. One wise piece of advice though, pay close attention and do not allow spell check to change a not so common word into a totally different word. (there’s always a dictionary) Spell check will also help with grammar and sentence structure. It will give you suggestions on words to change or other ways to change the sentence so it sounds better or flows more smoothly. My biggest advice for spell check:do not allow spell check or grammar suggestions actually change what you are trying to say.  While spell check and grammar functions are very helpful they can actually harm when the computer is suggesting a change that either does not actually make sense, or makes your sentence or words mean different from what they had.

Ok so let’s say you got through spell check without wanting to slap the program…what next? In all honesty…re-read, proofread your work once more. Make sure that your story reads the way you want it to and that spell check’s grammar options didn’t change things in a harmful manner. Even if you take a break from editing and work on another project, that’s ok. Sometimes you need to leave things be and come back to it with a clear head.

You did spell check, you survived it’s grammar suggestions…you proofread a second time…what now? Let someone read it. Rather that be one someone or ten someones, it needs to be read by others. Not only for the reader point of view but also because others will see mistakes you weren’t even aware you make/made.  They’ll find those errors where spell check allowed a word to slide because it’s an actual word yes but it made the sentence sound like nonsense. (this has happened to me so many times I did want to give spell check a good shaking haha!)

Once you’ve allowed someone else to read and hopefully suggest editing fixes or maybe even other ways to improve your story, make the changes needed to improve the work. Be honest with yourself and make changes you know it needs. This doesn’t mean change it in ways that makes it something you don;t wish the story to be. It means do what is necessary to make it publish ready.

One part of editing I find that I do a lot of is going back over a story and seeing how I can re word things that I may have originally worded unclear or not as crisp as it should be.  I think all writers do one thing the same, we tend to write fast when ideas hit, we don;t look back and the enter key keeps going like the energizer bunny.  We don’t stop to edit, we make those common mistakes and sometimes we don’t even see it when proofreading.  Our minds have a way of correcting the error without us actually correcting it on the page. For example, when typing a sentence may become “I cannot tell you who many times I have made that mistake.” While spell check/grammar will overlook the mistake of “who” instead of “how” it’s also possible for our brain to overlook that mistake. But the point is that your reader will most likely catch the mistake. Numerous times my husband has caught typos that spell check allowed and that I did not realize were there.

So you think you’re done? Perhaps you are and your story is ready to publish.  I say perhaps, because when I went back to “A Killer’s Saga” after it had been stored away for a long time, I not only found things i wished to change to make it sound better but also some major changes to make it into a story that truly holds to me and my personality. I found that I’m very comfortable writing erotica and wanted to meld that into a story I was already very proud of, already very attached to. And now that same story is one that holds true to how I feel it should have been written from day one. So sometimes give a story some shelf time. Set it aside and when you come back to it after that shelf time, read it again. Make sure you’re honestly happy with it and that it’s truly your best work. Then work on publishing.

Happy self editing! If you have any comments, or questions, positive feedback is always welcomed.

Writing attraction and reactions in Erotica and what makes it “work”

What I feel is a number one thing that makes erotica work is definitely take from your own human emotions. What draws you to another person sexually? How do you feel when attracted to someone? Does your heart beat faster? Of course it does. And not necessarily because of a love type emotion. But because something about them attracted you and your body reacts in many ways. Subtle reactions occur as well. When I’m attracted to someone I tend to grin and feel excited as well.  All of the emotions and reactions can be written easier than it seems.  {Sally brushed the hair away from her eyes. This was a nervous habit of hers when around a hot guy.  She shyly looked him up and down and grinned.  Her mind went everywhere from wondering how he looked nude, to how the caress of his hand on her cheek would feel and her heart began to quicken with each thought.  She felt naughty but in a delicious way.  She wasn’t the bold type and therefore just lusting him openly she was sure her cheeks were flush, they sure felt fire hot.}

While that’s a very short example I could go on and on, I’ve always been a very talkative and with writing, wordy, person. But my main idea to convey is that you can express attraction in many ways. And that while you can bring it out from your imagination of how your character would react, if you’re new to writing or looking to sharpen skills, work from how you, yourself react when attracted to someone.  You can never fail with true emotion and experiences.  The example piece above comes from a bit of me. As a high school student and even before then I was shy and felt awkward around guys.

However I do feel you can realistically write emotions and reactions that are wildly different and that you have to put imagination into.  Let’s use my example again but change it up for Sally to be more bold and open.  {Sally flipped her hair off her shoulder. She was feeling flirty today and it showed even in how she dressed.  The white button down shirt she wore was unbuttoned and unabashedly showing her cleavage.  The lace of her bra peeking out.  She brushed a hand across the mini skirt that barely covered her ass cheeks and grinned at how naughty she felt and how being naughty was nothing new to this girl.  She looked Brady over head to toe as he installed new windows in her apartment.  She ached to know how he looked out of his shirt, how those muscles she could see, would feel pressed against her breasts.  She was dying to unzip his jeans and put her hands on him.  Just the thought of doing such things to Brady made her flush, and heat in her cheeks wasn’t the only thing hot and bothered about her.  She wanted him badly and wondered if he knew it even as she eyed his hot ass longingly.}

In my second example our Sally becomes a wanton, lustful girl, the type you could see not being afraid to go after Brady.  And I feel while I show some of the same signs of attraction in both examples, you can easily see a drastic change in how she portrays that attraction.  Our first Sally shyly examines him while having heated thoughts and reactions. But everything about her isn’t shy {She felt naughty but in a delicious way.} This simple sentence shows she could easily come out of that shell and still go after what she wants.  Our second Sally reacts in a manner that makes the reader assume Brady will be in her bed before the windows are finished.

I feel good erotica should make you at least assume what’s coming next just by how the character reacts.  I also feel that it doesn’t need to be spoken word to get across the point of longing and desire.  The hardest part is probably describing things we wouldn’t know normally unless we could read the person’s mind or somehow see the attraction. Another good trick is other small reactions such as licking your lips, or biting your bottom lip.  Little habits we have as humans that show lust and longing.

This may seem like I’m going off topic, but with our first Sally (if this was an actual piece I was writing…) the next scene you might find she throws Brady to the couch and starts kissing him feverishly and then cut to Brady’s voice saying something like “I need to get the bedroom windows from my truck.”  snaps her from what we come to realize is our shy Sally fantasizing being bold enough to have her way with him. And I could go on with written subtle hints of attraction I used as examples like: Sally bit her lip as she quickly stole a glance to his ass while he walked out the door but knew she needed the space from him even momentarily.

 

Another way of showing attraction is through a mix of spoken words, emotions and reactions.  I’ll use our bold Sally for this example.

{Sally bit her bottom lip when Brady turned to her now and said something about going out to his truck.  She had to admit she hadn’t realized what he was saying more than the part about his truck.  Her tone was softer than normal with a hint of phone sex operator as she replied.  “Mmm will you be working on the bedroom today?”  she felt she sounded silly asking that but it was too late now.  He laughed and with a for the second time type of tone, he said, “Yes, I’m going to get the bedroom windows now.”  Sally wasn’t sure why she moaned her words when around him but she was well aware she did this.  Even saying the simplest things and for any man who had known her intimately knew when she was aroused, or horny even.  She watched as Brady returned and made his way to her bedroom.  She couldn’t help but to look at his muscular arms as he carried the windows in, and admired his tattoos.  From the kitchen she called out to him “Would you like some tea?”  Even while asking him something so innocent her mind was elsewhere.  She thought of running ice down his broad chest and licking drops of water from him.  And although she hadn’t meant to, a moan escaped her now.}

I could also easily write this same scene with our shy Sally. And for the changes I would most likely make her nervous asking him things. Her tone would convey a woman who feels more insecure asking him anything.  She might even stammer some words, or say “um or uh” before saying would you like some tea? I might make her aware of how she is behaving but feel bashful that she’s behaving this way.  And if I had shy Sally moan I may even go a little dramatic and make her try to cover why she “moaned.”  But with either Sally it would be more than obvious she wants Brady.

What I feel makes it work, with either version of Sally is another point I’ll make. Rather Sally is boldly attracted to him and unafraid to show it, or shy reserved and worried he’ll know, I would write her unafraid of feeling and reacting to her attraction to Brady.  I feel it’s very normal to make your female character feel just as lustfully attracted to a man as a man would be to her.  Just because we typically view guys as the ones who would be staring at the woman’s ass or imagining getting her in his bed, doesn’t mean our female characters cannot feel just as sexual even if in a shy more tamed approach I still show Sally having very bold thoughts and feelings. Our shy Sally still longs to know what Brady looks like nude, imagines she could throw him to the couch and make out with him.

Making it work is a matter of making the reader feel as hot and bothered as Sally does.  Making them feel awkward as shy Sally but still knowing she would like to make love with him.  And while it’s very acceptable to write attraction as the female or male having arousal type reactions I wanted to show  a range of ways you can also express other ways people react. It can be done in stages this way as well. From a small escaped moan, to Sally being so bold as to go after what she wants and actually push him down onto her bed and run her hands all over him while kissing him passionately.  Or she could go to hand him his tea spill it on his shirt and while helping him take it off they share a kiss that turns to a day of slow sweet lovemaking.

In whatever way you convey attraction it needs to feel real and perhaps even intense. It needs to be something the reader comes away from and goes “wow.” Something they remember well because you express it in  a way that makes your reader connect, bond or long to be that character. I hope that I was able to show more than  one convincing way to write attraction that gives other writers a method to work from and hopefully some helpful tips.