There are a lot of similes concerning the the written word; my guess is this is because writing and similes are two things that the more over-descriptive anthropoids among us are particularly passionate about. If you too enjoy these kinds of things, I have excellent news for you - talking with a client last Thursday, I came up with a real winner of a simile that is sure to entertain and intrigue: good writing is like sex.
It sounds funny at first, but the similarities are shocking. Taking this concept to its natural conclusion, I believe this might actually be the perfect comparison we authors have been searching for all these years.
When you begin a story or sexual encounter, you are in the foreplay stage. Rushing straight into the action is not a good idea. You need to give your… reader… a little time to get acquainted with the world you’re trying to create. It’s about heightening the tension. Ideally, your openings will create a void that only your writing can fill.
This said, foreplay is great to a point. Building a reader’s affection for a character before putting them in harm’s way (emotional or physical harm) is always a good idea - but don’t use that as an excuse to have 85 full pages of back-story. Having a scene that describes exactly how your main character got that scar on her left knee, when it doesn’t tie into the story at all, is kind of like rubbing your partner’s nose during foreplay… let’s be honest. Nobody wants their nose rubbed. It’s not a thing. Stick to things that heighten tension for both of you - the reader and the writer.
Still on the subject of openings, let me take a brief moment to talk about flashbacks. If you read my March post, All About Flashbacks, you’re probably aware that I’m not a huge fan of them. In my novel, Tiny Instruments, I had a grand total of ZERO flashbacks. I particularly have an issue with late flashbacks. To put things into perspective, having a flashback on page 60 is like engaging in three hours of foreplay, leaving to go to the bathroom, and expecting you’ll be able to start where you left off when you get back. Yeah… good luck with that.
Now onto the middle. It’s here where we get into the sex of the matter. But just because you’ve reached main event, doesn’t mean you should do the same things over and over again until the climax. That’s boring. Sure, you’ve laid the groundwork. You’ve managed to get your readers excited - but where is it written that you can’t keep the tension up throughout the entirety of your story? Mix things up. Make them think you’re going to do one thing, and then do another. By all means, hold with the story - which is the sex itself - but don’t allow things to get predictable and monotonous. Do be careful though! There is a converse to this. If you’re so unpredictable that your readers don’t know what the hell is going on, that’s not fun for anyone. You need to give them an opportunity to enjoy themselves.
And now for the end. The conclusion is a relieving of the tension that you worked so hard to build up in the opening. For a time it gets more intense as the final motions of your story are carried out… and then things slow down. Everything begins to wrap up. Every itch that you created has been scratched. Now that the action is over and everyone is satisfied, it’s about discovering the new norm. Don’t just put on your clothes and drive home - cuddle for a bit. Re-assure your reader that your character is going to be okay. In a story however, unlike in sex, you don’t want to cuddle too long, because you want your reader’s mind to be on the action. In real life - cuddle away! I personally, am a huge fan of the cuddle.
So really, all this goes to show my main point - which is that writers are great lovers… so don’t just sit there! Spread the word!
Write a story of up to 1000 words that follows the sexual pattern of build-up, constant tension and release. Make sure to choose a topic that doesn't directly relate to sex.