1. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    Being bold

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ashley Bird, Mar 9, 2018.

    Hi all,
    I'm reading a short story collection at the moment and I love that the writer does not give a damn. The stuff she writes about is grim and dirty and she does it really well. Think sex, drugs and rock n roll.

    When I find something I like in a writer or book or whatever, I like to go away and have a play around with it. So this week I've been trying to be more bold with my writing. Not throwing stuff in a story for the sake of it but not being afraid to write about things that I have stayed away from previously when it's called for.

    The writing isn't the problem. I've got most of a story down that I think has potential to be decent. The issue I have is letting people see it or reading in a workshop. The main character is female and I'm writing about sex for the first time really. I'm not a prude or anything but the idea of reading this out to a workshop group (mostly female) doesn't fill me with joy.

    I started to write it as a female MC because I wanted to keep myself out of it as much as possible and I found female MC's helped me do this in the past. But now I feel like I'm going to look like some creepy guy writing about womens sex lives for no reason.

    Does any one else feel uncomfortable reading this sort of material out and if so any advice to move past it because I want to be able to write about anything I want without being worried? I'm an introvert so being bold is new ground for me. Feel free to laugh at the awkward guy as well haha.

    Cheers
     
  2. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    The novelty of those wears off after the teen years, tho... :supergrin:Shock value is not the same as being bold. Being bold is more about doing stuff others have said cannot be done. And the shock, grim, dirty, sex, drugs, rockarolla has been beaten to a pulp about a century ago.

    There are online writing groups by genre, so it won't scare anybody if they are all writing the same sort of stories. And on the internet nobody knows if you are a boy, a girl, an attack helicopter, or a pokemon, so I'm sure you'll find a place to share stories without readers batting an eyelid. If you want to post on the internet though, it's good to keep in mind the age rating of your writing (when sharing for critique) as the internet is open to all ages and it's mostly the site owners that are going to get uncomfortable. R-rated stuff is posted on passworded places with limited access to the underage.
     
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  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    What's the short story collection you're reading and who is the author? If you're looking for more of this bold writing, pick up a copy of The Paris Review. They are really putting some bold and gritty work out there that might shock you at times and make you blush at others. Seriously, people tend to think of some of the quarterlies as all serious and stuff. The Paris Review loves crazy, dirty literary sex stuff and more. The fiction they put out is quite good and definitely pushing the envelope. Plus, it will introduce you to more short story writers that fall in line with what you seem to like.

    Here's the thing with writing material like you are; if it's good, yes, it will probably be uncomfortable to read, and same for it it's bad. It's much easier to be and create bold writing when no one is looking and when we forget there might be people looking at it in the future. I know I can put things on a page that I don't want to say out loud. In fact, I don't want to read anything I write in front of an audience. That scares the sh!t out of me. I had to do it sometimes in grad school. It didn't matter what I was reading. I just don't care for that process or style of workshop. I think it's much better when people read on their own and then things are discussed.

    Know that you can write about anything. Test yourself and push yourself with this because it sounds like you may be breaking new ground. Not everything has to be shared with your group. Chances are you write more stuff than you would have an opportunity to share, anyway. Good luck with it!
     
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Well, there's worse things to write about.
     
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  5. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    The collection I'm reading is Homesick For Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh. That sort of dirty realism is certainly new to me and it is a bit of an experiment for my writing. I'll keep going with it but I think you're right about keeping it to myself, at least for now.
    Cheers deadrats
     
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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    All I can say is there are places in this world where shit gets weird and dark.
    Other than that, go hang out at Literotica, there you can feel embarrassed for
    total strangers and their weird sexual fantasies. (And SPAG issues too). :p

    So hey at the end of the day, you will share what you want, and keep what you want
    to yourself. That is the bottom line.
     
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  7. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat

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    Just how married are you to your particular writing group? Now that I know groups and workshops exist that don't require you to read your work aloud, that will never happen in my world again, ever. I was uncomfortable doing that before I started writing about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, because I get terrible stage fright about showing my fiction to anyone.

    I understand what you mean, though. Most of my friends are guys. And if you read enough of my posts around here, you know I am definitely not a prude. But could I stand in front of my guy friends and read aloud the (vanilla) sex scene from my current love story WIP? No. That would be all kinds of embarrassing. My new book will be even more explicit because of its setting, so I can't imagine reading it aloud in front of anyone. Would I want my guy friends to stand up and read their sex scenes in front of me? Hell no! But I don't mind reading them when the writer isn't present.

    Reading each other's work on your own is so much better. If you have to, you can even establish boundaries about each other's sex scenes...Something like, "Just tell me if that scene is OK or not, but no commentary!" But really, most people are mature and professional about them.

    All that said, don't let it inhibit what you're writing. Write whatever the hell you want to write, and either worry about the consequences later, or find a mode of workshopping that's less embarrassing for you if you think it will cause you to become inhibited in your writing.
     
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  8. izzybot

    izzybot Deadly Jerry Contributor

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    I'd definitely feel awkward reading some of the things I write out loud, but ... well, I'd feel uncomfortable reading anything out loud! Social Anxiety™ :D

    I don't think you should be turned off from writing something just because it's unpleasant to present it in a certain way under certain circumstances, if that's the issue. I mean, I'm not gonna print out the smut I've written and stick it to my mom's fridge, but that's not a reason to not write it, y'know? When I started writing sexually explicit stuff it was certain anxiety-inducing at worst and just plain awkward at best to have people read it -- even remotely, across the internet -- but you get used to it. Just dive in, I suppose?
     
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  9. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    A while ago, there was a creepy writer here. His MC was a woman, and he wrote about her sex life in a very detailed, gross, unrealistic, fetishistic way. He had both a real-life workshop group and an online workshop group. They both told him that his work was coming off as bit sexist.

    So guess what he did.

    Did he listen to his readers and try to improve his work? Nope. He started ranting "venting" about how modern female readers were "incapable" of understanding his work. We, apparently, were just trying to undermine him and make him look stupid, and he was not going to listen to us.

    He ended up getting banned.

    There was another guy before that. Supposedly, he was trying to write an erotic romance novel for women. He asked for female beta readers. When he received criticism he didn't like, though, he got snotty and started outright taunting and insulting other posters. I am honestly amazed he was not banned. Anyway, people eventually stopped giving him critique. Months passed, and he started begging for attention. When people ignored him, he quit posting.

    So I guess what I'm saying is...

    You're a man. You're writing about a woman's sex life. There's things that you might get wrong-- in potentially embarrassing ways. There's nothing wrong with that. Try posting it online first instead, in a place you feel comfortable, where you can quietly and anonymously receive criticism. If you aren't comfortable baring your soul in public, don't.

    I'm proud of my work, and I wouldn't dare read it out loud. Way too many dicks.
     
  10. TheRealStegblob

    TheRealStegblob Kill All Mages Contributor

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    Nothing is really inherently creepy about writing a woman's sex life out. Some people may judge you for it, just as anyone will unfairly judge anyone for writing any type of sex or pornography, but you just simply have to be okay with that. Ignore the shitposts and focus on the people who'll give you real feedback. It's the internet and you can always post 100% anonymously. No one must know how you vicariously live out your depraved sexual fetishes through your writing.
     
  11. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    I'm not writing porn or anything. It's one story about a woman in her forties whose husband walked out about a month before. A package comes to her house addressed to him because he has forgotten to change the shipping address. It contains lingerie for another woman. I won't go into detail but the sex scene I have in mind shows where this woman is at and, perhaps, her taking some control back. I feel like it needs to be there for the story.

    In the past I have steered away from writing stories that have adult content and I want to free myself up to write all kinds of stories. I'd like to think people would be mature enough to see the story for what it is but there is always that worry.
     
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  12. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    I'm not sure I get your reasoning:
    There are a lot of male writers "writing about womens sex lives". Do they all have reason?
    Have you read any stories describing "womens sex lives"? And how do you differentiate which is "porn" and which isn't?

    Because there are different ways to describe sex lives. You can go mechanical and include body part names and go into detail of how they are used, or you can have "they made love all night", or anything in between those extremes. There's nobody left out there who'll be shocked because you wrote how a p***s goes into a v****a but there are different ways to go about it. And different approaches would result in a different type of story. You can have erotica, or drama, or romance, or pulp. The same story may be too bold for "Writers Digest" but too boring for an erotica magazine. So once you consider that, the writing of "womens sex lives" is no different than the writing of "womens daily lives". It's all about considering what suits your story and what seems out of place, what's well written and what isn't, what moves the reader and what bores them.
     
  13. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    I'm not too worried about the writing of it. It's totally new to me so I feel like I'm free to play around, get it wrong a bunch of times until I find a tone and style I like. That's how I look at all the new stuff I try writing. It's never going to be good right off the bat.

    My problem is workshopping it. I'm in university (I haven't posted any assignments) and I don't want to go in and make people feel uncomfortable. I love workshopping and getting feedback to make my stories better but, as someone suggested, I might leave this one out.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I have a strong suspicion they were the same guy with two accounts
     
  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    you could workshop it here - if its graphic use the erotica subforum in short stories even if its a novel excerpt
     
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  16. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat

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    That makes you a good guy, who is sensitive to the feelings of others. That's awesome! Give yourself a pat on the back.

    As to your predicament...maybe leave this story out of that particular workshop, and workshop it here or somewhere else more comfortable for the situation. But don't let it stop you from writing boldly! Just consider it like you would a submission: "This one isn't right for this particular magazine / workshop, so I'll send it over here instead."

    Good luck!
     
  17. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    I have nothing to add, I just wanted to say, this has my vote. It’s a really good way of thinking about it.
     
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  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Also to add Creepy weirdo 2 did get banned - it just wasn't permanent ... it was during his ban that creepy weirdo 1 put in an appearance and got shown the door .. suspicious much
     
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  19. Quanta

    Quanta Member Supporter

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    Actually, yes. He did rewrite his opening chapter taking into account the critique he had received and posted it in a new thread, but his previous version continued to be critiqued in that new thread. Just saying.
     
  20. Ashley Bird

    Ashley Bird Member

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    See, this creepy weirdo you speak of is exactly what I'm worried about. He's long gone and for ever remembered as the creepy weirdo. I don't want to be that guy haha.
     
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  21. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Yeah. That's true. I was being unfair. He did post a revision.

    I don't agree with his behavior, and I probably never will. But honestly: It was unfair of me to bring it up in the first place. Forget it. I don't want to put someone on trial just for being a dick.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think this is just a matter of exposure (so to speak...)

    The things you describe don't count as bold or gritty or me, because it's normal for the novels I read to include varying levels of violence, sex, narcotics, etc - and I'm talking mainstream novels published by the Big Five for household name authors, not stuff you have to go down an alley to buy. What genre do you read where these things aren't normal?

    This is the reason I've never ventured into real-life writing groups. Reading my stuff aloud to other people? No thanks.
     
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  23. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    @Ashley Bird - I can't believe for one second that nobody else in your group is also uncomfortable about reading or hearing 'gritty' scenes read out loud. I think that's pretty average, actually.

    I believe writing is meant to be read. Not listened to, but read in private. When you read on your own, nobody else watches your reaction or monitors their own. There are lots of things you do on your own that are perfectly fine, but you don't do them in public. Reading is one of them—or at least if WHAT you're reading remains private.

    So ...why not be upfront about this at your writing group? Say: I wanted to write this as honestly as possible, but I'm a little bit embarrassed about reading it out loud, so.... Produce a paper copy for each member. Pass these copies around to the group (you can collect them again afterwards if you're worried about them falling into the wrong hands) and let them read the piece to themselves during the time you would have been reading it out loud. (This should take less time from the meeting, so that's a bonus.) Then after everybody has finished reading, they can give you their reaction—or whatever they would do if it had been read out loud to them.

    This spares your blushes, and theirs. And allows you to be honest as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I don't think you are in any danger - its not mentioning sex that is the issue its being a creepy weirdo about it (the way in which the poster engages with women about their writing sex from a female pov) ... if they are honest and respectful there's no issue, if you can see the slime oozing out of every word not so much. (We also had rapey ryan ... a man determined to write a rape apologia however often he was told it was a bad plan)
     
  25. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    @Ashley Bird
    The little local group has the rule of no extreme graphic sex or violence allowed.
    Though we generally email parts on a turn base each week, and at least two of
    the ladies print out everything to make notes on. There is no rule to read what
    you have aloud, just that you have something when your turn comes about.

    @big soft moose I remember that guy, he was a fucking creeper. Glad he is gone. :)
     

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