Thursday, 28 February 2013

What do editors look for? Mitzi Szereto

Mitzi Szereto ( is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction, has her own blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (, and is creator/presenter of the Web TV channel Mitzi TV (, which covers “quirky” London. 

Below are the things that Mitzi looks for in short stories that are submitted to her anthologies:

I look for an original voice, freshness in the material, and prose that has style. For me there's nothing worse than stale-sounding material that sounds as if it was churned out to fit some formula or derivative of everything else that's out there. My biggest pet peeves are porn-speak and writers who submit material that bears not the slightest resemblance to what I've asked for.

1) Develop your own voice and style rather than parroting those of others.

2) When it comes to writing sex, avoid the use of trite euphemisms and hackneyed sexual descriptions (especially if you want to get into one of my anthologies!).

3) The sex should not be the story, but be part of the story. Remember that you are writing A STORY, not a script for a porn video. (Do they even have scripts????)

4) Avoid the formulaic. You might sell some work, but it won't necessarily earn you any respect as a writer.

5) Be creative in your writing, not regurgitative. Just because you've seen something written a certain way by other writers doesn't mean you should emulate it. Very often it's just the opposite.

Mitzi Szereto ( is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction, has her own blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (, and is creator/presenter of the Web TV channel Mitzi TV (, which covers “quirky” London. Her books include Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of SwordsMist and FireNormal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)Pride and Prejudice: Hidden LustsRed Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic RomanceIn Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy TalesGetting Even: Revenge StoriesDying for It: Tales of Sex and Death; and Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers. She has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the UK and mainland Europe, teaching them from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Harlot by Saskia Walker

So what is the Taskill Witches series all about? These stories are erotic romances with a paranormal twist and they’re set in Scotland during the time of the witch trials. Each novel tells the story of one Taskill sibling, Jessie, Lennox, and Maisie. These three Scots were split up as children when their mother was put to death for practising witchcraft. As adults they are hiding their craft in a time when the witch hunts are still going on — although the series is set towards the end of this turbulent period in British history, when change is imminent and the laws on “witchcraft” were about to be revoked.

What type of witches are they? We might call them Pagans, Wiccans or white witches. They consider themselves healers and gifted ones who practise ancient, magical ways. At the core of their craft is their
sexuality and the belief in the vitality and power that can be sourced through physical congress and love making. They are lusty, unashamed folk! During their tales, Jessie, Lennox, and Maisie are trying to find one another again, but it’s because of the lover they meet in their own story that they cross paths with their kin again.


The dark art of desire...

At a time when the cry of 'witchcraft' leads to certain death, Jessie's future looks bleak. Until one man offers her a way out of the gutter. Gregor plans to mould Jessie into the perfect weapon: she will seduce - and destroy - his bitterest enemy.

But in a society where innocence is for fools, Gregor fails to predict the shattering impact of his own sudden, forbidden craving...

To buy The Harlot:

You can find out more about Saskia Walker and her writing at
THE HARLOT ~ February 2013. THE LIBERTINE ~ March 2013. THE JEZEBEL ~ April 2013.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Alison Tyler

 Five tips on how to write erotica from Alison Tyler:

1)  Write all the time. Got an idea? Grab a pen. Got no ideas? Grab a pen and pretend you have an idea. I am prolific because I never stop writing.

2) Don’t give up. If a story takes a turn you didn’t expect and don’t know how to deal with, put the piece aside and work on something else. (You’ll have something else to work on, because you followed tip #1.)

3) Listen to your characters. If they want to do something you didn’t plan, let them. Often your characters will direct the action. They may know what is going to happen before you do.

4) Don’t rush. Some stories arrive fully formed, battering at your door, demanding to be written from top to bottom. Others can take months (or in my case, years). Trust yourself to know when a piece is actually complete.

5) Take risks. Write from a POV you’ve never considered before. Write in a tense that is unusual for you. I entertain myself with my stories. To keep my writing fresh, I explore different voices, tenses, locations, time periods, genres. Always write first person past tense? Try second person present. Mix things up. Stay actively involved.

Alison Tyler is an editor, anthologist and the author of many pieces of fiction including 'Some Like it Hot' in her anthology Playing with FireMore of Alison's work can be found by visiting:

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How to Write Erotic Fiction

by Ashley Lister

Just a short note to say I'm now holding my contributor copies for How to Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes

How to Books have done a wonderful job with this title and I'm thrilled to have my name on the front of the book. For anyone interested in ordering a copy, check out the links on Amazon:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Kathleen Bradean

Five tips on how to write erotica from Kathleen Bradean:

1) Write a story you believe in.

2) Patience is your best ally, even if it is annoying.

3) "I meant for it to be ambiguous" is code for "I don't understand why people tell stories."

4) Like any long term relationship, you're going to fall out of love with your novel from time to time. Find new reasons to love it rather than abandoning it.

5) There is no such thing as a muse. There's only you. Feel free to don a toga and strum a lyre if it helps.

Kathleen Bradean is the author of many pieces of fiction including 'Chill' in Violet Blue's anthology Best of Best Women's Erotica 2More of Kathleen's work can be found by visiting: or

Friday, 15 February 2013

What do Editors look for? Sharazade

1) Do your research. Only submit a query or a manuscript to an appropriate publisher. That means you familiarize yourself with their current published works—reading some, if at all possible—and make sure you know what sorts of things they publish. If they only publish ebooks, don’t insist on a paperback. If they publish mainly erotic romance, they’re probably not going to take your edgy tale of non-consent. If you’re not sure, of course you can ask—but your questions will come off a lot better if you clearly know who they are. A publisher can tell when you’ve just gotten a list off the Internet somewhere and cut and pasted the same submission letter to each one. And that’s not really more efficient for you, because it’s going to lead to more confusion and rejections.

2) Submit what they ask you to submit. If they want a query letter first, send a query letter first. If they want two sample chapters, send two sample chapters—not one, not the whole book. You are not a special snowflake. Follow the directions.

3) Submit how they ask you to submit. Some publishers don’t want attachments. Some only want attachments. If they want Times New Roman, 12 point, then use that. If they want it hand-written with pictures of clowns on odd-numbered pages, then do that if you want to be published by them. If you don’t find yourself willing (or able) to comply with their query or submission process, you’re not going to want them to handle your book. (If they don’t say at all, then you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman, 12 point, ragged margins, double-spaced, in a Word .doc or a .pdf. Don’t do the clowns thing unless asked.)

4) Please, oh please, check your cover letter for typos, and also tone. It’s nice to sound human, but not so casual you seem inattentive.  Be positive and confident, but arrogance rarely goes over well. Don’t apologize. If you don’t have a degree in writing or you’ve never published before or you secretly worry that the manuscript everyone in your critique group loves is actually crap, keep all that to yourself. Explain the qualifications and publication history you do have, if any; but don’t point out any lacks if you don’t. Ultimately, it’s your book that’s going to be judged—not what sort of life you led in order to write it. Remember too that publishers are more interested in authors who have more than one book in them. They’re easier to promote, and all their books sell better. If you have more than one finished manuscript, or you have published in other places, or at least have ideas for future books, mention that.

5) Don’t submit a rough draft. Yes, you’ll get edited—although increasingly I see fiction editors giving a manuscript a copy edit, and not a content edit. Even if you’re lucky enough to be assigned the sort of editor who will work intensively with you, you should always submit your best effort. Someone should have read it in addition to you (and not someone romantically involved with you) and provided feedback, which you should have at least considered, if not taken on board. It goes without saying that you used a spellcheck, and also read it carefully for typos and errors with homonyms. This is your tryout. A publisher wants to see your very best writing.

6) (I was going to cheat and add this to one of the other five, but that would only be confusing.) Allow at least two months to hear back. If you don’t hear back after four months, it is perfectly fine to send a polite follow-up query.


I’ve worked as an editor for about ten years, three years in-house with a New York publisher, and the rest freelance. I’ve worked with three of the “Big Six Five” and numerous smaller presses. I’ve worked as a content editor, development editor, production editor, copy editor, and proofreader. I’m also a published author, with about 40 books (non-fiction) to my passport name, and to my pen name (erotica) one single-author anthology, a few single short stories, and short stories in anthologies with Cleis Press, Sizzler, and the Erotic Literary Salon. In 2010 I launched 1001 Nights Press, a small erotica publisher that I’d describe as “cautiously open” to new writers (cautious because of time commitments, not because you aren’t a fantastic writer).

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Flight of the Black Swan

The Flight of the Black Swan by Jean Roberta:
Imagine an upper-class English girl kidnapped by pirates when she was eleven, and eventually returned to her family. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably either read the classic book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes, or seen the movie. Whatever you may imagine, Jean Roberta has taken the grown-up Emily far beyond your—or the younger Emily’s—wildest speculations. This is, indeed, a “Bawdy Novella,” but there is more to it than that. Emily is a smart, spirited heroine, adventurous enough to see the bright side of the unspoken (and unfounded) assumption that she must be “damaged goods.” When her romantic affair at a girls’ school is abruptly ended because of her lover’s cowardice, Emily tosses off the constraints of nineteenth-century English society and returns to the sea on a more-or-less pirate ship, the Black Swan, manned by gay fugitives from the British Navy.

I was used to keeping to myself, so for the following three days, my family didn't seem to find me unusually reclusive. As the hours dragged by, my heart ached even as I longed to breathe salt air again. I composed the following letter:
Dearest Mama and Papa,
I hope it shall please you to learn that I have accepted a proposal of marriage from Mr. John Greenleaf, a former Officer in the Royal Navy. Please forgive me for answering him so quickly, but a higher Principle is involved. Mr. Greenleaf holds sacred the Free Will of all God's creatures, whatever they are called. He has arranged passage on a ship to America to fight in the War against Slavery in the Southern States. I have agreed to accompany him. Please try not to worry about me. I shall write to you again as soon as I am able.
Your loving Daughter,
P.S. Please share this news with the younger ones.
I copied this out in a clear hand and placed it in an envelope that I left on my pillow. I packed a satchel that I thought my family could spare. Not a single gown, corset, hoop, petticoat or bonnet could fit into my baggage, and I had no desire to wear such garments on board a ship.
Shortly before midnight, I slipped out of my parents' house, dressed in a pair of trousers and a shirt that I had made for myself, covered by an old frock coat and a hat of my father's with my hair tucked underneath. I hoped that passersby would mistake me for a young man.
I arrived at the harbor for my rendezvous with my two new friends. I felt very small in the shadows of tall masts, lit by moonlight. A familiar baritone voice lilted in the darkness:
"The sea runs high in the west, Nellie,
And the wind is cold and keen.
True lovers all are blest, Nellie,
So keep your nightgown clean."
The ditty was "John's" signal to me. I walked quickly in the direction of his voice.
The Black Swan was a gallant three-masted wooden frigate, rocking gently at anchor like a debutante waiting to be presented to Mother Ocean. "John" had told me that it was in ordinary, waiting to be called into active service as the Navy outfitted warlike ironclad ships propelled by steam engines. He surmised that our chosen vessel was scheduled for retirement, and would therefore be considered less worthy of pursuit than a more valued ship.
"Emily?" asked my fiance. "How curious you look. But how wonderful to see you." He turned aside from me to avoid bursting into laughter.
"Laugh if you like, man" I answered. "Did you expect me to arrive in full rigging, with petticoats as wide as sails?"
The man gave me a kiss on the cheek and a proprietary hug. "But darling, we are to be married directly. Didn't you think--well, appearance is an illusion after all. I defer to your practical mind."
"James" approached as though unsure of whether I was the same woman he had met in Hyde Park. "Emily?!" he exclaimed. He looked at the division between my trouser legs, and turned tomato-red, as was his wont. "I say, this is really -- you look like a lad!"
"I'm dressed to travel with men!" I told him.
"But we were relying on you to--" he stammered. "Of course you're right, dear, you must dress for comfort and not for style. Welcome to our good ship, Emily."
I noticed dozens of men loading supplies onto the ship. These were the Green Men, the ones who were everywhere denounced as unnatural, and yet they looked as capable a crew as could be found. Some revealed themselves by the flamboyance of their gestures while discussing the disposition of stores meant for a long voyage, some by the sweetness of their voices, whilst some appeared as masculine as boxing champions.
Any magistrate in the city would condemn them all to the gallows! Words could hardly express my emotions as I saw them to be, in the words of the old song, "alive, alive-o."
"We must christen our good ship," said "John," "and exchange our vows, and set sail without further delay."
Lanterns swinging in the hands of the men fitfully illuminated various parts of the ship's deck and hull. I looked for her name and saw it painted on her side more crudely than seemed to befit a ship of the Queen's Navy. Her figurehead, a long-necked swan that gleamed black in the light reflected from the water, appeared as smooth as onyx. The ship, like its human cargo, was intended to escape detection.
"James" followed my gaze, and offered me his arm. "Emily dear," he began, "have you ever observed the grace of a swan's progress? And have you considered the impression made by any creature set apart from its fellows? That is how we think of our ship. She's like a black swan, proud of the natural plumage that distinguishes her from her snow-white sisters. Like us, she prefers the cloak of darkness."
The Flight of the Black Swan is available from:
Jean Roberta is the thin-disguise pen name of an English instructor in a Canadian prairie university, where she is currently co-editing a book of articles based on presentations in a queer faculty speakers series, including her own approach to the notorious 1928 lesbian (or transgendered) novel, The Well of Loneliness. An article of hers is due to appear in From the Coffin to the Classroom, Teaching the Vampire, in 2014.

She writes more fiction than non-fiction, and over ninety of her erotic stories, including every orientation she can think of, have appeared in print anthologies and two single-author collections.

Her reviews appear in a variety of venues, and she blogs here: and here:

The twenty-five opinion pieces she wrote for a monthly column, “Sex Is All Metaphors” (on the site of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association, 2008-2010) are available as an e-book, Sex Is All Metaphors, here:
All profits go to support the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Monday, 11 February 2013

K D Grace

Five tips on how to write erotica from K D Grace:

1) Write like the wind! Don’t stop, don’t slow down! Don’t even breathe until you get to the end! One of the worst mistakes fledgling writers make is to rewrite the first three chapters into infinity and never get beyond that. Turn off the internal editor when you write that first draft. Don’t worry that people might think that it’s about you. Everything we write is about us, even when we think it isn’t. Write shamelessly and unabashedly, and that’s true whether you’re writing sex or anything else. Remember, it doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t even have to be average. It just has to be WRITTEN! THEN and only then do you have something you can polish and shape and perfect.

2) Don’t give up! I can’t stress enough that rejection is a part of the package for every writer. It’s included in the deal. It will happen, and there’s a 99.9% chance it will happen a lot. Consider it an opportunity to perfect your craft. Consider it an endurance race. Consider it whatever works for you, whatever will keep you writing until you get there. If you do that, you WILL get there.

3) Write every day, at least a little. Every word you write not only helps you perfect your craft but also primes the pump. The more you write the more you’ll be able to write. And remember, it doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written.

4) Always remember the same rules apply for good erotica that apply for any other story. Sex should never be gratuitous. It should always serve a purpose. Sex should move the story forward. Sex should give us insight into the characters we didn’t have before. Sex is a fabulous tool to create the chaos or the bliss needed to shape the plot.

5) Have fun with it. You won’t want to press on if you don’t enjoy writing. It’s too hard, it’s too much work. But if you allow yourself to play with it, toy with it, experiment with it, get lost in it, I promise you’ll find that you really can’t get enough!

K D Grace is the author of many pieces of fiction including Body Temperature and RisingMore of K D Grace's work can be found by visiting: or her romantic erotica website:

Friday, 8 February 2013

What do editors look for? Sedonia Guillone

 Author and publisher, Sedonia Guillone has more than fifty novels, novellas and short stories published at Ellora's Cave, Red Sage, Loose Id, Torquere Press, and Total-e-Bound Publishing.

1. work as hard as you can on Improving your craft BEFORE you submit anything. The best way I have found to do this is 1. to get with a good critique partner who will be honest with you about your writing and not just tell you your writing is fabulous all the time and 2. to get a copy of Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, study it well and apply the lessons. if an editor has to renovate your work completely then you will find yourself getting rejection letters rather than acceptances.

2. Be a good writer to work with. Don't argue with your editor on his/her suggestions or reject any of them out of hand. Weigh everything thoughtfully. In other words: DON'T be a writing diva. Be polite and timely and respectful and editors will be happy to work with you and even help you along to push up release dates and things like that.

3. When going over your work, out yourself in the reader's place. Is what you're trying to say coming through clearly? In other words approach your writing with objectivity. Many authors know what they mean in their head but the meaning doesn't come through clearly in the words they choose.

4. This tip is for erotica writers: make sure your erotic scenes are sensual. Don't use words for body parts that are gross and crude. Make sure your erotic scenes are part of the natural flow of the story and not artificially stuck into the story. Also make sure you don't have people doing things that in reality are physically impossible or out of character for that person.

5. It's always good to make a print copy of your work and read it on paper we revising. You'd be surprised at how different the pacing is on paper as opposed to the computer screen.

Sedonia Guillone now owns and operates Ai Press, an erotic romance publisher of e-books and trade paperbacks. You can find her work at and

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How to write a good erotic mash-up

by I.J. Miller

Taking a classic novel and combining the story with a completely different genre to form a single narrative has become popular these days.  Mashups have been common in music for quite some time, with artists sampling older classics in their new rap song or pop hit.  In literature, Seth Graeme Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies made the first big splash in 2009.  With the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, publishers soon got the idea that erotic mashups might have an appeal.  This past August I was commissioned by Grand Central Publishing to tackle Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights.  Once a book is in public domain, you can use original sentences, but if you are just going to use a lot of verbatim text and periodically throw in a few sex scenes here and there, what is the point? 
Having a strong background in screenwriting probably most tailored my approach.  I looked at the project less as an addition of sex to an old story, but more as an adaptation of the original work with an erotic interpretation.  Interpreting the story, rather than rehashing it makes it much easier for the erotic parts to become organic and not stick out like a sore thumb, or for erotic readers used to heightened sensuality, a small penis.
These classic works are usually longer than the final book a current publisher would want in the erotic romance genre.  In addition, you’re adding material.  To make it work, you have to break the story down to its core and have a plan.
Identify the true theme and through line of the book.  What it is about?  What is it saying?
The better you can emulate the voice and language of the original the more your new scenes will flow.
In order to reduce the book to a manageable length, look to consolidate scenes as much as possible, as one would do for a screen adaptation.  Write the single best scene, or scenes that carries the broader drama in the liveliest way.
Very often these classic books have a lot of subplots and many minor characters.  Only use what is important to the through line of your erotic story.  The entire book will usually need to be streamlined and restructured to get the most out of the romance, love, and lust that is there.
Be creative in your approach to erotic scenes.  The more they carry the story line, the more they reveal character, the more interesting they will be.
For Wuthering Nights, my erotic mashup, I got rid of the narrator, Lockwood, who hears most of the story in flashback from Nelly the housekeeper.  I went with an omniscient narrator to get into the heads of both Heathcliff and his love, Catherine.  After all, Nelly couldn’t be present in every sex scene!  I went with a straight, linear narrative, starting at the beginning, finishing at the end.
This was a wonderful book to retell, because the characters are so complex.  No one is above reproach.  There is intense love and romance, but also bitter revenge and dark hate.  It allowed for complex and varied erotic scenes, from deeply loving, to vengeful, to manipulative, to rough dungeon sex with Heathcliff as the ultimate dominator.  The passion always fit what was happening in the story.
I adapted the book to three parts (the original had two long, sprawling sections), emulating a film’s three act structure.  I developed the set up of the story and took it to its breaking point.  Then, as in the original, I brought Heathcliff back with a longer middle section that continued to escalate his conflict of trying to win Catherine back while getting knocked off course with his intense thirst for revenge.  The last section, as in the original, uses the second generation of the two families to resolve the story.  I limited the focus Bronte had on Catherine’s daughter’s relationship with Heathcliff’s son (Linton), which was ultimately unfulfilling and not passionate in the original, and added a greater focus on the love story between Catherine’s daughter and Catherine’s brother’s son (Hareton) to bring about a more interesting and fulfilling end for a romantic love story, which is different from the more tragic, dark last parts of the original.
One of the things that usually make great books classic is the wonderful language and writing.  There is no reason to lose the great description or dialogue if you don’t have to.  Find passages that will add meaning to the new eroticism you are adding.  The combination might be very close to what might have been if the original had been written this way, with a beautiful and interesting result.  For example, Heathcliff ends up marrying Catherine’s sister-in-law, Isabella, in order to make Catherine jealous and as an act of revenge.  It is clear in the original that it is an abusive relationship and that Heathcliff has changed Isabella from a noble lady to a “thorough little slattern,” as Nelly observes in the original.  I eroticized this dynamic by making Heathcliff a dominant, with bdsm inclinations, who breaks Isabella down completely in his dungeon.  As in the original, she is both addicted to and repelled by him.  I used Heathcliff’s exact dialogue from the original that did not necessarily refer to his sexual relationship with Isabella, but fit perfectly right before a dungeon scene:
“She would rather I seemed all tenderness before you; it wounds her vanity to have the truth of her taming exposed.  No brutality disgusts her.  I suppose she has an innate admiration of it.  I’ve sometimes relented, from pure lack of invention, in my experiments on what she could endure, and she still creeps shamefully back.”
There is no magic formula, but a thoughtful approach will allow one to use eroticism, to use what was not a viable alternative back in the day, to heighten all of the powerful emotions in a classic, while producing a story that pays homage to the great writing of yesteryear and is still powerful and interesting enough to stand on its own.


The more she rubbed, the more she rotated her finger at the bump of her pleasure, the more clearly she saw, and felt the presence of Heathcliff. She liked that he was so available to her, that she was not locked in her room, that they were not stealing time in the fields, that this was not a clandestine visit to the garret. No one else was around and they were free to be who they wanted to be, and do what they wanted to do. She rubbed more vigorously and Heathcliff looked up from his whittling and smiled with happiness: happy to be alone with her, happy to see her begin her pleasure so freely. There was so much contentment right now within them both. They were with each other in a way that had never been possible before. Heathcliff undid the buttons of his trousers and removed his erect cock. This stirred her mightily, for she enjoyed everything about his cock: the salty taste, the musky scent, the beautiful curved vision of it. She rose to her hands and knees and crawled on all fours to Heathcliff…up close, her face soon between his legs. She took a moment to sniff his member, then she took turns alternating the brushing of each cheek along the sides of his shaft, like a cat purring for affection. She kissed his ball sack, then up along the bulging veins, around the swollen head, tenderly, before she took this glorious specimen into her mouth. Completely without thought, she sucked, fingers still gyrating against her clitoris, applying deep pressure, as Heathcliff’s cock penetrated her mouth, and a passion grew within her body that she had only come close to feeling on that beautiful Christmas night. There was a temptation to quicken her pace with both her hand and mouth and give them both the pleasure they sorely needed. But this was not enough. Christmas night had not been enough. She rose to her feet, pulled her dress over her head, swiveled slightly so Heathcliff could enjoy the sight of her body as the golden flames from the fireplace reflected off it. He leaned forward and kissed her stomach. He said, “Catherine, you are the most beautiful woman to walk this earth.”


Twitter: @heathcliffian

Monday, 4 February 2013

Madeline Moore

Five tips on how to write erotica from Madeline Moore:

1) 'Telling detail' and 'detail' are not the same thing. Many new writers describe every movement a character makes. These details aren't necessary. Readers know how to open doors, drive cars, get dressed and so on. What they don't know, when they begin reading a story, is the stuff your character is made of; that's the 'telling detail' you need to show (not tell) them.

2) While your story needs a beginning, middle and end, everything that happens in each scene (or chapter) does not. A character doesn't need to enter a room, engage in a conversation or series of actions and dialogue, leave the room, mull over what was said while he gets ready for bed and drift off to sleep. Start the scene or chapter as close to the point it is there to convey and end it as soon as possible after the information you want the reader to have has been provided. This is doubly important when writing erotica. Every erotic encounter doesn't have to start with foreplay and end with orgasm. Honest.

3) Avoid 'ing' words as much as possible. You'll still use a lot of them and that's OK but if you don't have to use one, don't. In particular, try not to start your sentences with 'ing' words. Often, new writers think they are starting a new sentence with a verb when in fact they are starting it with a gerund. Gerunds are very tricky. Stay away from them. Subject Verb Object is the natural order of a sentence. Stick with that and you'll be fine.

4) Every verb doesn't need to be preceded by three, two, or even one adverb. Every noun doesn't need to be preceded by three, two, or even one adjective. Look at it this way: there are thousands upon thousands of words that are eager to appear in your story. Some of them are worthy of a place in your piece and others are not. New authors are particularly fond of writing: She smiled. Really, it's rarely required. Other oft repeated descriptions that are usually unnecessary are: He nodded. She shrugged. Or, even worse: He nodded his head. She shrugged her shoulders. Most of the time you don't need to write any of this and you never need to write: She shrugged her shoulders. There is no other body part that shrugs. This is also true of: He nodded his head, except in erotica, where on occasion a man might nod another body part. Simply put: Make words work hard to be in your story.

5) Most of the time, the only tag needed in dialogue is the name of the character who is speaking, or the pronoun representing that character and the word 'said.' Sometimes a writer might use 'asked' or 'replied.' Occasionally, characters may shout, whisper, or mumble. Almost all new writers overdo their tags. One character 'vehemently demands' to know what's going on, while another 'whispers coquettishly and batts her eyelashes' while saying a flirty line. This quickly becomes annoying. The truth is that 'said' is so common in literature that readers' eyes actually skim right over it. That keeps the dialogue and action moving and that's what you want. On this topic: people do not 'smile' or 'laugh' their dialogue. Ok?

Madeline Moore is the author of many pieces of fiction including Sarah's Education. More of Madeline's work can be found by visiting:, and

Friday, 1 February 2013

What do editors look for? D L King

 D. L. King has published dozens of short stories and is the editor of several erotica anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Where the Girls Are: Urban Lesbian Erotica and the Independent Publisher's Award Gold Medalist, Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica.
1. Edit yourself first.
A lot of people call this rewriting. Stephen King says in his wonderful book, On Writing, that after he’s finished a manuscript, he cuts ten percent of it in the rewrite.

After you’ve finished your story, put it aside for a while. When you come back to it you’ll be able to pare it down to its essential core; cut the extraneous bits that have nothing to do with the story. What you should be left with is a tight piece of writing that can’t be cut any further without losing part of the story line.

2. Don’t head hop.
Keep your point of view straight. If we’re privy to your main character’s thoughts about the guy she’s just picked up in the bar, don’t tell us what he’s thinking about her. Remember who’s head your in and what that person could possibly know. The main character couldn’t know what the guy was thinking unless she was a mind reader – and that would be a different story. 

The rule about head hopping doesn’t mean we can’t ever know other characters’ thoughts (although it’s often easier to have a single point of view in a short story). As long as you don’t confuse your characters’ points of view in the same paragraph, section or chapter, you’ll be okay. And when you do change points of view, make it clear who’s doing the thinking.

3. Proofread your work before submitting to an editor.
Because editors are lazy, you want to submit the cleanest copy possible. Make sure you’ve gone over it with a fine-toothed comb for typos and copy errors. I don’t know why, but for some reason errors that go unnoticed on the screen, appear on the printed page, so do your copyediting from the printed page.

4. Follow directions.
Read the call for submissions or the style guide carefully and make sure you follow the directions. Editors don’t put those directions in just to see if you’re paying attention. If asked for double-spaced text in a specific font and point size with paragraphs indented and no extra space between them, don’t give your editor single-spaced block text with a double space between paragraphs.

There really is a reason an editor requests a specific format and, by the way, if no format is specified, it’s always best to go with standard style (which is, if you haven’t already gathered, double spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman or Courier New, paragraphs indented one-half inch, pages numbered and one inch margins all round).

Oh, and pay attention to word count. Word count is related to page count, which is close to a publisher’s heart (because more pages means higher printing costs). If an editor specifies a short story word count range between 2,000 and 4,000, she doesn’t want to see your 8,000-word opus, no matter how brilliant it is. Trust me on this.

5. Fit the Call.
If you’re sending work based on a call for submissions, make sure your work actually fits the call.  Don’t send a vampire story if the call is for a zombie anthology.  Okay, that one’s simple. But what if the call is for a “sex at work” anthology? You wouldn’t want to send the vampire story to that call either – unless the main character worked as a vampire slayer. The bottom line is: make sure your story fits the call, and if you’re not sure, query the editor.

It’s always a good idea to ask questions if you’re not sure about something. Trust me, an editor would rather answer a question up front than read a story that doesn’t fit the call. 

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