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Old 01-15-2013, 08:04 PM   #1
DariusD
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Essay: Descriptive Writing

This is an essay that I wrote for another forum, detailing how to write descriptively in erotic roleplay. Many of the ideas also apply to writing descriptive erotica in general, as well.

I haven't edited it from the original version (except for the end cap) so if there are references that make no sense, just ignore them.

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What I Mean When I Ask for "Descriptive" Writing

After several discussions and more than a few cut threads due to misunderstandings about what I mean, I've decided to add this segue into my O\o thread.

10-25% Rule: Out of every ten sentences, one or two should include some form of description. Ideally, the description should be appropriately related to how a character appears as tied into to either actions they are taking or to simply enhance/add to the image the author is building for their audience. The key word here is "appropriate." If my character is looking down at yours, tell me what he sees or feels when he touches her, in addition to taking time to write what she is thinking or feeling about the situation. Most female authors (including published ones) are kinesthetic and emotional as opposed to visual. It's natural for a woman to write how her character feels emotionally and it's natural for her to write how my character's touch impacts her character. There's nothing wrong with it.

However, most men are visual. There's a reason most men look at porn instead of reading Fifty Shades of Grey. They key when writing with a visual man is to think of your character in somewhat objective terms; try imagining her looking into a mirror, or attempt to see her through the man's eyes. If she's wearing a dress, does he see cleavage? If so, what amount? Is she sweating? Is that a drop of sweat beading down her collarbone? And so forth.

I'm not trying to suggest that you should alter your entire writing style, or even telling you that you need to "get outside" of your character's head. I'm telling you that your character is, in fact, your character. It's not another writer's place to describe your character. This is why, when I'm writing with another person, I don't describe what my character sees or thinks about the other author's character until after the other author describes it.

An example of writing that draws me, as a visual reader, out of an erotic roleplay is when the other person's character changes posture in a way that lends itself to an enhanced description being added, but it's not. Specific opportunities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Your character is wearing a low cut shirt and bends over.
  • My character is in a fight with yours. You've established that she's wearing a skirt and she kicks at my character's face, doing a full splits in order to reach it.
  • And the worst offender of all (and more common than you'd think): when your character gets naked.


Descriptions Can Drive Plot in Erotica: I don't know about you, but I prefer erotica that is driven by plot over smut most of the time. That means our characters won't always get along. Hell, they probably won't have the desire to have sex for quite a while. In this case, describing our characters and keeping those descriptions tantalizing is what keeps the tension between our characters elevated. Yes, anger and suppressed desire for the person you don't get along with is an equally valid notion; however, I suggest that people who feel no physical attraction for one another are not likely to want sexual relationships. When was the last time an argument you had with someone you found physically repulsive turned you on? When we write plot-driven erotica, our descriptive imagery takes some of the weight off our audience's imagination. Instead of assuming that the other character automatically wants to secretly have carnal relations with another, it's our job as writers to build that desire on multiple levels - the most important of which (to visual readers) is through descriptiveness.

Smut Lives on Descriptiveness: Conversely, if you're writing a one-shot or "quickie" with minimal character growth and tension, descriptiveness can be everything to a visual reader.

Descriptiveness Does Not Equal Only Visual Descriptors: I know I've been talking a lot about visual imagery here, but the visuals aren't always available or appropriate. Sometimes we get bored writing the same descriptions, even using new adjectives, over and over again. Toward that end, I suggest changing it up: describe how your character smells, or how her skin feels. Remember what I said before about you being in control of your character. This includes taking ownership of how your partner might perceive your character in multiple dimensions.

Caveat: Be careful! When you describe your character in a way beside the visual, you may encroach on the other author(s) involved. In fact, if written poorly, it can borderline on "God Moding," wherein you take control of another person's character. For example, if you write: He can smell her perfume; it smells amazing!, then you've taken away the other author's ability to react. You've told your partner that it smells amazing, instead of allowing him or her to describe what influence it has. In this situation, I suggest using something like, His scent was musky and sharp, but he'd been told that it wasn't entirely unpleasant in the past and he felt no need to cover it up with deodorant. In this case, I've described his scent, added that I don't intend for it to be bad, as well as a reason for him not to mask it, and left an opening for my partner to respond as he or she feels is appropriate.

Descriptiveness Can (and Often Should) Help Develop Character: Lots of authors I've discussed this with feel that being too descriptive takes the emphasis away from writing "from within" their character. In other words, it distracts from developing the character's personality. This need not be the case. Describing your character can (and often should) allow you to establish your character's values. Fit characters, for example, value either their appearance, some sort of exercise or athletic competition, or both. Characters wearing short skirts usually want to be looked at, and so forth. You may want to consider using descriptiveness as a way to evolve your character over time.

Evolving Your Character's Appearance: I didn't realize this until recently, but did you know that by page 3 on these forums (assuming posts averaging 400-500 words), you've probably written around 50-60 pages of text? I post twice a week in my games. That means it's been three or four months since initial descriptions and introductions were done. In some games, it means that my partners (or I), haven't described anything about our characters in as many as 20,000 words. And we're writing erotica! As our characters evolve and time passes, it becomes increasingly important to find reasons to re-describe our characters. It also can become repetitive to those of us who pride ourselves on descriptiveness. As mentioned above, I suggest tying your character's appearance into his or her growth throughout a story. On page 1, you described your character as X. Now, on page 60, after going through X and Y events, how does she look? Do "once light and happy eyes" now have a "dark and brooding shadow beneath them"? This is just another opportunity for you to display your character's evolution while telling your audience how he or she appears.

- I added this part specifically for the Literotica crowd.

Also, while novelistic writing requires a character with flaws, erotic writing requires attractive qualities. Usually, those qualities are exaggerated (like the cock size of the male actors in porn). This is not always the case, but it depends on the story and where it comes from.

Below, I have included three examples of my introductions, one realistic, one fantastic, and one sci-fi. Hopefully these will help illustrate the ideas above. Keep in mind, however, that the real challenge of being descriptive doesn't begin with a good introduction; it begins as the story waxes long and new, inventive use of words becomes a requisite for you to continue enjoying the writing.
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Silas stood before the lectern, a stark contrast to the English professors of other colleges. Lean and muscular, with something between the build of a swimmer and a martial artist, the dark haired, dark eyed, man was quite tall and severe looking. He’d been described as a “stormy blade” by one of his students before, and it wasn’t far from the truth. Given the summer’s inclement heat, Silas wore a simple navy button up and khakis, all that fit him snugly, without giving the impression that he was trying to show his physique off. It was natural to him.

-

“Fuck, I wish I had a horse,” Devrim muttered in slippery common, tainted by his Drow heritage. Wearing ceremonial battle garb, a flowing purple robe embossed with gold twine and enchanted within an inch of its expensive life, he moved almost as silently as an assassin, though not quite. He’d never perfected that art. On his back was a single, apparently empty, sheath where a long, narrow sword might hang, also covered with purple and gold etching – and more magic. A scan of his magical aura would reveal the man was nearly a sun of it, from the little rings in his pointed ears to his odd little Oriental-style slippers (stolen, no doubt, from Wai). Of rich purple-black skin tone with angular, sharkish features, the man was as beautiful as a nightmare and muscular enough to deepen that beauty into shocking handsomeness. His eyes, cat-slitted through some unknown process (as Drow did not have such irises), were luminous purple, matching his battle robe.

-


It was the deal that had attracted David, along with dozens of the system’s wealthiest business men. Taller than genetic norm at nearly seven feet, David had the bronzed looks of an Adonis; though that wasn’t saying much – any man with his level of wealth had those. His short, bleach blond hair brought out the cruel, hungry gleam in his currently icy blue eyes and contrasted well with his form-fitted silvery blue suit, open enough to reveal a hint of clavicle. His salesman-perfect whiter-than-white smile brought out his expressive, not-quite-too-full smile as he waited for the official greeting. He’d put in a request six months prior and had scheduled his first meeting for this very day.
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My essay on descriptive writing.

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Last edited by DariusD : 01-15-2013 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:45 PM   #2
Steel_n_Silk
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Thanks for the tips.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:52 PM   #3
DariusD
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You are quite welcome.
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My essay on descriptive writing.

What I'm currently seeking can be found here.

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