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Category: Writing Tips

Today on Twitter I noticed a brief excerpt a writer had tweeted out from their in-progress work:

So why am I mentioning this? Well, the title of this post should give a clue, because choosing the right words for your scenes is important. Before I say anything further, I’ll just point out that this tweet clearly indicates a first draft, the #AmWriting tag is used by writers to share things they’re working on right now, so I’m not actually critiquing this author’s work, merely using it as an example.

With that said, let’s take a quick look at the one word I feel drags the sentence down as it currently stands: scent. Scent is more normally associated with positive smells; the scent of a lady, scented clothing, scented oils, etc. From etymology online:

late 14c., “scent, smell, what can be smelled” (as a means of pursuit by a hound), from scent (v.). Almost always applied to agreeable odors.

In the current example, the writer is using a positively associated word with a negatively associated scene such as torture. There are instances where this can work well, as it produces an unsettling dissonance that can make the reader uncomfortable, a good thing when writing horror or thriller type works.

However, in this instance I’d argue that use of a positive word like scent actually produces a less impactful scene. It’s not a strong description precisely because the word evokes a positive image in normal use, and the lingering stench of urine and copper in a dark and dank location where torture was perpetrated really requires different word choices.

I just used the word stench as one good example. Odour also works as it often has a similarly negative connotation (body odour, an odour of decay, etc.). For a first draft, a word like scent is perfectly adequate, first drafts are meant to be crap, they’re the potter’s clay being slapped onto the wheel and shaped into something basic before refining and perfecting.

But once that first draft is complete and you can start looking more carefully at word choice? That’s where the real fun begins, at least for me. Picking the right words is incredibly important for setting the scene in the reader’s mind, and a single well-chosen word can elevate a good scene to something truly great.

The post Word Choice Is Important appeared first on Yurika S. Grant’s Author Site.

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Potatoes. Not actually a euphemism, don’t worry.

Potatoes. Not actually a euphemism, don’t worry.

English is a flexible language with huge variety in vocab and many, many alternate words you can use to describe things. So go nuts and have fun with it! Euphemism, genteelism, analogy, simile, they all have their place. But also be aware of when not to use them, and when to adjust word choice a little for particular situations.

For example, when I had just started out writing yuri romance I used horrible euphemisms like ‘magic button’ in place of ‘clit’. I was hesitant to use that word, partly because I was still unsure of how explicit I felt like being with my works in general. It’s one of those things that can demonstrate a lack of confidence, and you probably don’t want your writing to come across like that.

After reading some recent lesbian erotica and various blog posts by other writers on the subject, I dropped that practice entirely. Just use ‘clit’, you don’t need to worry unduly there, assuming you’re writing something explicit. Be bold and confident in your word choices, you don’t need to beat about the uh… the bush, as it were (I do apologise, haha).

You should also think about your characters themselves. How do they feel about sex and sexuality? Use words appropriate to the characters in question when describing scenes.

Like I have a character who loves breasts, and she can get a bit flustered when seeing her own girlfriend undressed because she has a large and shapely pair. So I use a lot of euphemism for this character, describing in terms of fluffy pillows or comfy airbags, using silly descriptors in the prose to match the character’s own feelings and flustered state.

Likewise, ‘pussy’ is a word I’ll happily use for any girl who is openly sexual and liberated, but I might default to more gentle euphemisms such as ‘wetness’ or ‘moistness’ for characters who are more unsure of things, or who are enjoying their first ever experience. This is by no means set in stone, though, I mix things up a great deal as well.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid using the same word more than a couple of times in a scene. So if I open a sexy scene using ‘pussy’, I’ll switch to ‘wetness’ the next time a direct reference is required. Then I might use ‘centre’ or ‘moistness’ for the next, before moving back to ‘pussy’.

Similarly, a phrase like ‘her most intimate area’ serves well to break things up and prevent monotony, adding some additional variety to the prose.

N-N-Naughty things are being discussed…!

Conversely, words I personally avoid – out of a combination of personal preference and the type of cute and playful yuri I write – include the other C-word. ‘Cunt’ is something I dislike using, it’s vulgar plus it’s often used as a profanity and/or insult. But more than that, I rarely use the more extreme expletives in my works, so it’s simply not a word I’d use in any case.

However, if it fits your story and your setting, go ahead and use it. People do use that word to refer to their bits (note, ‘bits’ and similar terms are also okay! See below), and if you’re using a modern day setting, chances are this and other strong language are going to be perfectly in-character. Again, use whatever is appropriate for your story and setting.

There are all sorts of other terms you can also use, depending on circumstances. The aforementioned ‘her bits’, for example. This applies to males and females equally, naturally. People use all sorts of weird words for that area of themselves; bits, bits and pieces, junk, lady garden, the old chap, gentleman sausage, love tunnel, etc. The list is effectively endless.

It’s fine to use these in prose, just be sure it fits. If you write works like mine, which are heavily focused on light-hearted antics, playfulness, and naughtiness, then words and phrases like the above can work really well – especially in spoken dialogue – but I also make occasional use of them in prose for a bit of variety.

As an example, I had a character get into a pretty strenuous session, then some other scenes happened, then a situation arose later (a matter of maybe a few hours after the sexy scene) that resulted in further arousal. She’s a relaxed and sexy girl so I used something along the lines of ‘she wasn’t certain her bits could cope with doing it again so soon’.

Exactly as I said above, think about your characters and the most appropriate words for them specifically. For a less sexually open girl, I might have gone with something like ‘she still felt too sensitive to reasonably consider doing it again…’ instead, or something along those general lines.

One other word I personally don’t use but others do: ‘sex’. Yes, I mean as a descriptive word for pussy. A fellow yuri writer friend of mine uses this a lot, as do several other writers I’ve seen. Like the other tips here, go ahead and use it if it feels right for your setting and characters.

Example: She moaned, rubbing the fabric of her panties deep into her sex.

That’s all for now, I hope this post was at least mildly educational or helpful in the event you’re interested in writing sexy yuri of any sort. Till next time!

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Ready to write, sah!

I was asked quite a while back how I go about maintaining momentum writing past the 10,000 word mark. For me personally this is a pretty easy question to answer, because I’ve never really struggled to maintain momentum. Quite the reverse, actually… I tend to be way too prolific.

What I do struggle with is keeping my focus on one thing. If I’m in the mood to write something specific I can get 5,000 or more words done in a day, no problem. My personal best is 7,500 in ~12 hours, which ain’t bad at all. But if I don’t feel like it? 1,000 might be a struggle, and chances are I’d give up after 500 words. And what I did write probably wouldn’t be very good.

So how do I write so I can maintain a level of momentum, especially past the 10,000 word mark? Simple, I vary what I write and don’t get hung up on writing linearly. Condensed down to a single word, I’d use this: Leapfrogging. Confused? That’s probably a reasonable reaction.

It’s really very simple, though, you simply jump – or leapfrog – back and forth over already-written sections (or scenes that don’t exist yet!) and write whatever the hell you feel like at that precise moment, anywhere in the story.

The basic principle is that interesting and exciting scenes are fun to write. By jumping back and forth, writing fun scenes as they occur, I find I’m a hell of a lot more productive. If there’s a scene later in the work I’ve been itching to write, I’ll go ahead and write it, then leave it to sit while I write something else I’ve wanted to play around with.

While leaving a scene to sit awhile, I might jump to an entirely different work for a time, concentrate on that for a day or two, then switch focus back to the previous work. By thinking up exciting and interesting scenes and simply jumping in and writing them like this, I’m always working on something fun, and having fun is a great motivator.

This is pretty much me when I’ve finished a full draft.

Originally, back when I started writing and was still entirely green, I wrote pretty linearly, slogging through busywork scenes, dialogue I wasn’t really feeling, and all manner of other things just so I could reach the scene I’d been itching to write for ages. Momentum is often considered in a linear context, after all.

Now? I just jump to the fun scenes and write those. Then I write another. And another. Until I’ve got a full chapter (part, work, short story, novella, whatever), all tied together with enjoyably fun to write scenes. I can write 5,000+ words in a day like this, and sometimes more, though it’s rare. Normally I aim for ~2,000 or so. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality and all that.

If I write something I don’t like or I’m not really feeling and end up deleting/removing it, that’s fine, I don’t agonise and simply move to another scene or work. I’ve realised in the time I’ve been writing that a lot of my procrastination is actually me agonising over scenes. So it’s something I try not to do so much these days. I just let the problematic one sit for a time before coming back to it from a fresh direction later on.

One final thing; if I’m skipping scenes because they feel like busywork or padding, that’s a pretty sure-fire indicator that those scenes shouldn’t be there. It depends on the type of story, naturally, but generally speaking if you, the writer, aren’t feeling the scene or finding it interesting to write, what makes you think your readers will enjoy it?

If you’re writing romance or slice of life, slow and detailed scenes are expected, but even then they shouldn’t feel tedious or boring to write. Likewise, if you’re writing something action-oriented and find you’re struggling with an in-between scene, it might be worth taking a step back and re-evaluating whether it needs to be there at all, or if it can be replaced with something else. Maintaining momentum applies not only to writing past 10k, but reading past it, too.

I hope this helps! It certainly helped me a great deal and I enjoy my writing more as a result, but I realise that everyone is different and some people might not feel comfortable jumping back and forth like this. But if you’re struggling to keep up the momentum, why not give it a try? You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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