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Slippery Tip #7: Poor grammar can (and will) distract readers from masturbating.

Okay, so I’ve been assiduously avoiding this topic since I began this series, but I have to deal with it at some point – grammar. Ugh.

There are two things guaranteed to make my lady wood wilt and cause me to stop reading an erotic story: The mention of a 12-inch cock (especially if this is treated as the expected average), and bad grammar. As soon as I hit the second grammar error, I drop out of horny reader mode and slip into analytical proofreader mode, which is anything but arousing when I’m trying to get off. A lot of porn readers don’t care about grammar and just breeze past these niggling little speedbumps, but, for me, poor grammar and proofreading shows that the writer doesn’t value his or her own work enough to care about how they present it to readers. If they can’t be bothered to take the time to properly proofread and edit their story, why should I waste my time reading it? It also shows a level of disrespect for the readers (IMNSHO).

With that being said, I know that I have my share of typos and slip ups in my own writing. I do my best to excise all the gremlins before publishing my posts and stories, but something always seems to manage to get through. Even stories that I’ve combed through a dozen times! If I go back a year later and read it again, I’ll find several glaring errors that jump off the page and I can’t believe I didn’t see them before. In fact, I’m almost certain you’ll find a few mistakes that I missed in this post! This is the pitfall of proofreading your own stuff – you have a tendency to see what you intended to write and not what is actually on the page. I generally don’t take this advice myself, but it’s never a bad idea to have someone else proofread your stories before you share them – even if they’re not a grammar expert, they’ll easily spot dropped words and other errors that you skimmed past several times without even noticing.

One reference that I find invaluable is “The Creative Writer’s Style Guide,” by Christopher T. Leland. It has a lot of advice and examples specifically aimed at the special circumstances that fiction writers most often encounter (as opposed to most style guides which are aimed at essay writers and the like). This book was out of print when I first hunted down my copy, but you can now get it on Amazon at a reasonable price. A cheap alternative, however, would be for you to resort to the monkey-see, monkey-do method. If you’re not sure how to punctuate something in your fiction, just pull a published novel off the shelf and find a matching example of what you’re trying to do and follow their lead. It can be time consuming at first, but you’ll start to internalize the rules and at least appear to be an expert after a while.

My goal is to keep my tips tight and to the point, so I’m not going to try to tackle every aspect of grammar or this would turn into a book. What I’d like to do today is look at something that trips up a lot of beginning and amateur writers (and sometimes veteran writers): How to punctuate dialogue.

Punctuating dialogue is one area that looking at examples in a published novel will usually provide a quick and easy model for you to mimic. Just be careful, the American conventions differ from those commonly used with British English, so pay attention to your source material and know your target reading audience. There are only a few rules/patterns you really need to remember that a lot of people mess up.

First, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, dialogue is anything a character says (or thinks) that appears between quotation marks. “Fuck me with your 12-inch cock!” A bit of dialogue like this can often stand on its own. The reader will presumably understand who is speaking based on the context. But, it is often necessary to include a cue to indicate who the speaker is so the reader doesn’t get confused. “Fuck me with your 12-inch cock,” Mimsy said.

Notice that this line of dialogue ends with a comma – NOT a period (as might seem intuitive to many). If you use an attribution (e.g. Mimsy said), then the line of dialogue before it gets a comma. Things become a little strange when the line of dialogue wouldn’t normally end with a period. “Fuck me with your 12-inch cock!” she begged. Here we want to add some emphasis to Mimsy’s dialogue, and so we end the line with and exclamation point! Usually, this would indicate the end of a sentence and we’d capitalize the next word as the first one in a new sentence. In the case of dialogue, we don’t do this (she begged is not a new or discrete sentence on its own, but rather part of the sentence that includes the dialogue). If, instead, you dropped the attribution and used a line of action to identify Mimsy as the speaker, then you would capitalize as normal: “Fuck me with your 12-inch cock!” She spread her legs wide, ready to receive his huge member into her drooling love tunnel. Here, She is capitalized because what follows the dialogue is a new, discrete sentence that stands on its own. This same rule applies to question marks. “Do you think your 12-inch cock will fit in my tight, little, virgin cunt-hole?” she asked.

An important detail to notice in the examples above is that the punctuation appears INSIDE the closing quotation mark. In American English this is almost always the case. There is a unique situation where this wouldn’t apply (having to do with a character quoting someone within their dialogue), but you are unlikely to have to deal with this special case on any kind of a regular basis. This little convention (punctuation always inside the quotation mark) is where American English diverges from British English, where (and don’t quote me on this) it is acceptable for the punctuation to appear outside of the quotation mark.

A quick tip on quotation marks – ‘single quotation marks’ are only used for quotes within quotes (to distinguish inner quotes from the outer. They are not for “less significant” quotes (or to indicate “air quotes”). For example: I guess you could say I’ve had my share of ‘lesbian’ encounters over the years, but I still consider myself just bi-curious. Here, ‘lesbian’ should be in double quotes (“lesbian”).

Another thing I’d like to mention is that tempting little bugger known as…the ellipsis. It is very easy to overuse this handy bit of punctuation, which can become a distraction to some readers (i.e. me!). It’s good for indicating hesitation, or a stammer, “I…um…think your…ah…tits are really nice, Mom.” It’s also used for when a character trails off, leaving a thought unfinished, “I never knew your nipples were so…” These should be about the only two places you use an ellipsis in your fiction writing. In other types of writing, it is used to indicate an omission from a quote or piece of quoted text, but that is rarely something you’ll need to do when writing porn. Note that the ellipsis is THREE dots, never more, never less. THREE! Always THREE, only THREE, forever THREE! I think you……get the idea. There is also NO space before or after an ellipsis.

Now, there are cases where an ellipsis can be immediately followed by another punctuation mark (most commonly with questions). “Do you want me to suck your…?” For my fiction writing, however, I never use commas or periods after an ellipsis. “Yes, suck my…,” she whispered, unsure if she could say such a dirty word aloud in front of her mother. This is more of a style thing than a hard and fast grammar rule, so it technically wouldn’t be incorrect to punctuate the previous sentence as it is. But, to me, the ellipsis indicates a pause, and the comma indicates a pause (or separation), so the comma in this situation feels redundant and unnecessary to me. “Yes, suck my…” she whispered. This just looks and feels better to me. There is also a case when using a period after an ellipsis when the end of a quote is omitted (which makes the ellipsis look like it’s composed of four dots), but, again, not a situation you’re likely to run into when writing fiction. So, THREE dots, no spaces before and after, and probably no punctuation immediately following.

Oh, and don’t use an ellipsis for when you want to show someone is being interrupted. Use a dash for this. A dash indicates an abrupt end at the end of a line of dialogue (rather than a trailing off).

The last thing I want to touch on is Direct Addresses. “Lick my clit, Mom!” In this line of dialogue, the direct address is Mom. Always set off your direct addresses with a comma. “Mom, lick my clit,” my daughter begged. “Suck my balls, Dad,” Timmy groaned. “Eat my ass, baby brother!” she cried out. “What I really want, Auntie Rachael, is for you to fuck me with that 12-inch strap-on cock of yours.” This brings up another tricky point – when to capitalize mom and dad. If mom or dad is being used like a proper noun (in other words, you could replace mom with mom’s name and the sentence would still make sense), then capitalize. “Let’s DP Mom tonight!” would also work if you used her name, “Let’s DP Marjorie tonight!” But, “Let’s DP your mom tonight!” wouldn’t necessarily work if you swapped in her name, “Let’s DP your Marjorie tonight!” so you’d use lower case. A good clue is if there’s a possessive preceding the pronoun, don’t capitalize it. My uncle, your dad, our mother, his sister, etc. Also, if it’s being used to refer to a class of people generally, no capital. “I wonder how many moms own vibrators.” These rules get a little confusing when it comes to terms of endearment. “Pound my ass, baby!” Suck my nipples, sweetheart.” “Swallow my cum, slut.” “Choke on my cock, dear.” Yes, all of these terms of endearment can be replaced with the subject’s proper name, but they nonetheless don’t get capitalized.

Okay, the more I write, the more stuff I think of that I want to warn you about, but I have to stop before I end up with a book. Just remember, I’m not an accredited expert when it comes to grammar, so it’s possible I’ve gotten something wrong, or perhaps you disagree with something I’ve written here. The thing to keep in mind is that there are hard and fast grammar rules, and then there are looser style guidelines. Often style conventions are treated like rules, and it can be difficult to suss out which are which. Hopefully the few tips I’ve provided here have given some of you a clearer idea of how to format your dialogue punctuation-wise (which will save me some valuable editing time!). Just remember to not worry about this kind of stuff while you’re working on your first draft. Get all the creative stuff out of your head and onto the page, then later you can put on your editor cap and deal with all the persnickety rules and technicalities. Not being able to “write good” is no excuse for not giving erotica/porn a try. Sharing your perverse visions with the world is a very rewarding endeavor even if you don’t know a comma splice from your arsehole. Just do it! and everything will just kind of find a way to work itself out. Beleeb me (as our Dear Leader would say).

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Say What?

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Slippery Tip #6: Use Dialogue Effectively

Dialogue is when the people in your story talk. It’s one of the most dynamic and engaging ways to tell your story, but it’s often underused in porn. Dialogue can be very effective for revealing character, for filling in background, for moving the plotforward, and for rescuing your story from being a series of big blocks of dense text on the page. It’s a very handy storytelling tool. The difficult part is making it sound natural.

Accomplishing this is more of an art than a science. Paradoxically, the quickest way to make your characters sound NOT normal is to try to mimic the way people actually talk. Real people are all over the place and if you wrote down what they said word for word they would sound like blithering idiots. Story dialogue is a stylized version of speech that rarely exists in the real world, but feels like it does.

One of the most common problems I see is failing to use contractions. We almost always use I’ll, you’re, and they’d rather than I will, you are, and they would. There are certain idiomatic phrases where it sounds awkward to use contractions, but otherwise it comes across as formal and stilted. This is why robots and alien often don’t use contractions – it makes them sound weirdly different when they talk.

It’s sometimes good to give certain characters verbal “tags,” but be careful not to overdo them. Don’t have Judy start every line with “So” or “Well.” Use these sparingly and readers will pick up on it. Same goes for accents. Don’t try to faithfully represent a character’s accent phonetically (“I pahked my cah in Havahd Yahd”). This is difficult to read and gets annoying. Again, just a few little hints of an accent here and there will do the trick nicely.

Keep in mind that dialogue is usually a rapid back and forth exchange. People rarely make long speeches when they’re having a conversation with someone. Even if they do, it’s usually a good idea for the other character to inject a comment just to break things up. Each line should move things forward. If you can remove the line and it doesn’t “break” the forward momentum of the scene, then you probably don’t need it. This is often the case with “chit chat.” Yes, it may be realistic, but for the purposes of a story it must be distilled down to its minimal essence.

Another important aspect of dialogue to consider is the idea of subtext. People are often indirect about what they say: there are the words, and then there’s what’s behind the words. “Sorry I’m late, honey,” Jack said. Jill forced a smile. “Not to worry, dear. As a matter of fact, the other wives have become quite jealous of all the free time your late nights at work give me.” Here we see that instead of being angry and lashing out, Jill is saying the opposite of what she feels in a sweet, passive aggressive way, and she is planting seeds of doubt in her husband’s mind. What’s she doing with all that “free” time? Meeting strangers online for role play fantasies? Sucking the neighbor’s cock? Interracial, latex fetish, bukakke gang bangs? The best dialogue forces the reader to pay attention in order to interpret what’s really being said.

Beyond the challenge of creating compelling dialogue, there is also the grammatical mechanics of how to present it on the page. There are just a few simple rules, but it’s probably the area that most new writers have the most difficulty with. I’ll cover some of the biggest technical aspects of dialogue in my next installment.

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In Tense Writing

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Slippery Tip #5: Keep your tense consistent

This seemingly simple little rule trips up a lot of writers (including me sometimes). Your story will most likely either be told in past tense or present tense – “She fingered her pussy” vs. “She fingers her pussy.” A problem I often see is that the writer unintentionally shifts between the two tenses. There are certain cases where different tenses can be employed, but almost all of the time you need to stick to one or the other. Where I see the shift happen most often is when the story goes from general narration to the action of a sex scene. This is a natural tendency, so watch for it when proofreading your own work.

Past tense is the most common and most “invisible” tense. To keep things easy for yourself in the beginning, this should be your default tense to write in. You’ll most likely find that you don’t really have to think much about it since this is how most of us naturally tell stories to our family and friends. “So, I went to the store and bought a dozen condoms, and the girl behind the counter flashed me her boobs” more often than, “So, I go to the story and buy a dozen condoms, and the girl behind the counter flashes me her boobs.”

Where using present tense is useful is when we want to give more immediacy to a story (especially when it’s being told from a first person point of view). “I open the door and see my naked mom shove a zucchini up her snatch” instead of “He opened the door and saw his mom shove a zucchini up her snatch.” Both work fine, but using present tense has the benefit of being able to put the reader more in the moment. They’re experiencing events along with the characters, whereas with past tense the narrator is recounting events that already occurred.

The key is to consciously pick a tense before you start writing, and stick to it. When I decide to write a story in present tense I often find myself slipping into past. Once I’m done writing a story in the present tense, of often find myself slipping into it when I’m writing my next story in past. It’s a common problem, but one that’s easily fixed if you remind yourself to be aware of it when you’re proofreading your story.

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Outta Line

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Slippery Tip #4: Create an outline

To do an outline or not is a point of contention among amateur writers. To me, this is a silly argument because everyone who writes a story does an outline – even if they don’t realize it. My view is that if you don’t think about your story and create some kind of “formal” outline and just start writing your story, this simply makes your first rough draft your outline – a very, very detailed outline.

Creating an outline for a porn story is super easy (at least it is if you do it like I do). It starts when you have that moment of insight – an idea for a dirty story that you just have to write. Don’t run straight to the computer – let the story live in your head for a little while. Play some of the scenes out in your mind like you’re watching a movie. Edit the scenes until they flow. Get to know your characters by watching them interact in your imagination. Jot down any traits, plot twists, or lines of dialogue that get you excited.

When you reach the point where you have to get the story out of your head and down on “paper,” gather any notes you’ve made and do your outline. At the very least, all you need to do is write one simple sentence for each scene in your story. This will allow you to create a basic structure for your story that will keep you on track and insure that you know where you going before you begin your journey. Having an idea for how your story is going to end is as important (if not more so) than knowing where it starts.

My idea is to write a story about a single mother who confesses to her son that she’s a sex addict. Here’s my quickie outline:

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Sex Addicted Mom (working title)

  • Mom talks to Son, tells him she’s a sex addict and her therapist told her to open up about it.
  • Son thinks about what Mom told him, gets horny and jerks off to fantasy of her.
  • Son offers support; Mom asks him to get rid of all her sex toys for her.
  • Son secretly keeps toys; plays with them while he jerks off to more graphic mom fantasies.
  • Mom tells Son she hasn’t had an orgasm in two days and she’s going crazy; Son gets turned on.
  • Son plays with toys more; accepts that he’s sexually attracted to Mom and plans to seduce her.
  • Son offers foot massage; Mom talks about her sex problems; Son makes move and they do oral.
  • Mom and Son go to bedroom and fuck every which way.
  • Twist – Son finds out Mom never went to a therapist; she was seducing him the whole time.

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There, that doesn’t look too hard, now does it? These are just the bare bones, and provide enough of a framework to get you going. You can jump into the writing process with a good idea of where the story is going and how you’re going to get there. Like I said, this is the minimum. If you wanted to add a little more detail about some of the “beats” in the scene, along with some more information about character emotions, motivations, or actions, you can do a little more. This is what my expanded outline for this story might look like:

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Mom’s Addiction

SET UP

  • Scene 1: Distressed Mom sits Son down for awkward conversation – her therapist suggested she be open with those closest to her and tell them that she’s suffering from a serious problem: sex addiction. She admits that she’s a chronic masturbator and watches porn almost every night. Son is shocked, embarrassed, and a bit angry, though he really doesn’t know why.
  • Scene 2: Later that night, Son fumes in his bedroom over his mother’s admission. Begins thinking about his mother’s sexuality, admits to himself that he’s been suppressing his own shameful physical attraction to her since puberty. He ends up fantasizing about her masturbating to porn and jerks himself off.

DEVELOPMENT

  • Scene 3: Next day, Son apologizes to Mom for not being supportive. He asks if there is anything he can do to help. She talks more about her sex addiction, then reluctantly asks him to throw away some things for her since she can’t do it herself. He agrees and she turns over a big collection of sex toys.
  • Scene 4: That night, Son goes through the box of toys touching, tasting, and trying them out as he beats off to thoughts of these objects being in his mother’s pussy. Feels guilty and disgusted with himself.
  • Scene 5: Mom is upset, Son encourages her to talk. She hasn’t had an orgasm in two days and it’s driving her crazy, she’s dying for sex and willing to do anything or anyone. He tries to give her advice, but the bulge in his pants makes it difficult.
  • Scene 6: Son gives in to his urges and plays with mom’s toys again. Accepts that he is sexually attracted to his mother, and decides to take advantage of her sex addiction to seduce her.

CLIMAX

  • Scene 6: Mom is really stressed, Son offers foot massage to relax her. Mom talks about how hard it is not to masturbate and how she misses her toys. Conversation and massage become more intimate until Son makes his move and they give each other oral.
  • Scene 7: In Mom’s bedroom, they strip down and go at it in every position for the rest of the day and most of the night. Mom tells Son that she’d be able to give up masturbation and porn if he fucked her like that a few times a week. Son happily agrees.
  • Scene 8: Twist – Son somehow discovers that his mom never went to a therapist, she made the whole thing up. It turns out he wasn’t the one who seduced her, but the other way around!

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Again, not all that much work, but I have a very good idea of what’s going to happen in each scene, what the purpose of the scene is (both on its own and as part of the big picture), and a sense of how these characters transition from mother and son to lovers. If something doesn’t work, I’ll most likely be able to spot it at this stage where it will be much easier to fix than after I’ve written 3,000 words and realize there’s a problem and have to start over.

A big complaint by anti-outliners is that if they plan things out they lose the creative spontaneity of discovering the story as they write it. This is crapola! There’s a great deal of creativity that goes into making a good outline, which is just as exciting as writing. Also, there’s no rule that says you have to adhere strictly to the outline. If you’re in the middle of a scene and a great idea pops into your head, you’re free to pursue it. Filling in the details of an outlined scene is where real the action is, and there’s nothing in an outline that impinges on the thrill of creating a story.

There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but this is enough for our purposes. Think about your story, make an outline, write your story. These steps are critical to completing the creative phase of conjuring your erotic tale while minimizing frustration and maximizing fun.

If you still don’t want to make an outline, try doing one while naked and imagining me leaning over your shoulder helping you along as I rub my stiff nipples against your bare shoulder. If that doesn’t work, then you’re a lost cause!

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Promises, Promises

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Rachael’s Slippery Tip #3: Building to a Great Climax

A good story is like a good one-night stand.

First there’s the attraction, then some foreplay, and it all leads to a fantastic climax (or two, or five). If any of these parts are missing, then it’s just doesn’t work quite as well. It’s the same with a story, whether it’s a 3-page quickie or a multi-chapter epic. You don’t need to be a literary expert in story structure, but you do need to understand the minimum requirements if you want to seduce your reader into coming back to your place for the night.

A lot of writing guides explain that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. I’ve always found this to be a pretty useless way to explain how to shape a story. What’s important is the function of each of these parts. The beginning contains an introduction to your characters, a premise, and a promise. The middle serves to develop the characters, complicate the premise, and build tension. The end is where you deliver the big pay-off, release the tension, and fulfill the promise.

The beginning is the place for setting up everything the reader needs to know. It all starts with an interesting character that compels the reader to want to get to know them better. A mother of two in a sexless marriage who notices her older son developing into a desirable young man. A shy daughter who doesn’t know to deal with her blossoming body and wants to explore her sexuality with someone she has trusted all her life. A horny nephew who lusts after his aunt, but is crippled with guilt because his aunt and his mom are identical twin sisters. Describing characters in this way easily leads to your basic premise. Mom seduces teen son; daughter teases daddy; nephew has sex with aunt as a surrogate for his own mother. Your premise is the spine of your story. This means that every scene, event, and line of dialogue should somehow serve this main idea. Staying true to your premise will keep you on track while writing and prevent you from veering off into areas that confuse or distract the reader. Finally, the premise contains an inherent promise. Mom seduces son makes a promise that mother and son are going to fuck. Daughter teases daddy promises that at some point daddy will break down and give his little girl more than she bargained for in the form of his very hard cock. Nephew has sex with mom’s twin sister promises the readers that he will realize that his desire for his aunt is a misplaced lust for his mother and that they will consummate this taboo relationship (possibly with his aunt joining in). The set up can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a few pages provided each of these elements is included.

The middle is generally the meatiest part of a story. This may not always be true in an erotic story (more specifically, a jerk off story). This really is a case where length doesn’t matter as much as how you use it. This is a good place for you to tell us more about the character in terms of background, attitudes, problems, goals, or whatever is important to this story as far as motivation goes. If our premise is mom seduces teen son, there should be more to it than just her needing a good fuck. What is there in her past or in her mind that allows her to cross the line that holds most other mother’s back. Does she have pleasant memories of consensual incest from when she was a teen? Does a friend of hers confess to fucking her own son and plant the idea in her head? Did her son do something to change her view of him from an innocent boy to a sexually appealing man? This is also where you need to build tension. Notice that I used the word “need”! If mom wants to fuck, and son wants to fuck, and they fuck that’s all well and good, but you’re skipping the literary foreplay. Mom should make a move, then pull back. Or maybe she tries something, and her son rejects her (for now). Perhaps the sparks fly, but before they can get very far they are interrupted. Without building some tension here in the middle, the climax is almost always less satisfying.

Then comes the big finish. This is where the promise of the premise gets paid off. Mom fucks son. Dad chokes daughter with his cum. Nephew slides his cock into mom while aunty licks his ass. This is where all porn stories end up – generally no real surprises for the reader. They know what’s going to happen at the end as soon as they pick up on your promise, but they want to see how the characters get there. If you’ve done a good job of building some tension, by the time they get to the expected end they’re so excited that even though they knew what was coming they’re uncontrollably worked up and masturbating like crazy as the final sex scene plays out in all its graphic glory! Once you deliver on the promise and have drained everyone’s sex fluids, that’s your signal to end the story, and end it quick. Your reader is a mush of post-orgasmic jelly at this point, so put a clever bow on your mini-masterpiece in the form of a few poignant lines and walk away.

So there you go – all you ever need to know about story structure. That wasn’t so difficult, was it? Set up, development, pay off. If you can think in these terms, your stories will be better than half the stuff out there by default – I promise.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, your place or mine…?

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