Monday, March 30, 2015

How Writing Erotica Helped Me Write Action

I love action. Action in movies, action in books, action in games, and action in life. I think it's fine to say that action is great. When I was young, I stayed away from writing action scenes like the plague. I stuck to writing poetry and erotic short stories.

When I picked up the craft again and decided that writing a novel was in my future, I realized that fighting scenes were something I wanted to put into my stories. It was disheartening at first and I wasn't sure if I was up to the task. However, the stories I want to write demand it. Without them, my visions wouldn't be complete.

For being a fairly late bloomer to writing, I didn't know where to start. How do I convey great action scenes without it becoming bland and confusing. From what I've learned about them, fight scenes can go from clear to confusing very fast. Finding a middle ground for a fight scene has really been tough and I'm still learning. I've been cutting and slicing away at the words until they are giblets of bloody perfection.

Other great writers have done a lot of this work for me. There are various books that cover the aspect of action scenes in novels. A Google search will do wonders if you're in a bind. Most guides I've read tend to be very clear and concise, ironically this is how action can be. But for me, there was a little secret that helped me out. Something that gave me a bit of an edge from my younger days as a budding writer. 

That secret is: erotica. 

You might be wondering how that helps someone write action scenes. In fact, it's quite the opposite (unless of course you write erotic action scenes together, which can happen). Writing erotica is a very useful tool when it comes to learning how to be precise and clear. When you write them you have to be clear about what's happening, otherwise you end up with a pretzel of a sex scene.

 It can drive me bonkers when I read erotic stories where it starts out with a kiss and ends up somehow with an extra limb thrown in or suddenly the couple is upside down trying to emulate the Kama Sutra in a very bad way. I fear for those characters and I'm expecting to see them in the hospital in the near future. Oddly enough, this can also happen with action. I've read some fight scenes (my own included) that leave me confused as to what actually just happened. Where the heck did that extra punch come from? Last I checked, a groin can't make a fist.

There is also the downside of being far too precise with action/erotic scenes. For example:
Erotica: He kissed her and then he hugged her. After that, they kissed some more.
Action: She punched him in the stomach and he grunted in pain. He punched her back.
These might not be the best examples from the top of my head, but I've read scenes like this before in short stories and wondered how one can improve upon it. I think the first thing would be to figure out why it's so boring and bland. To look at it critically and learn to give it flare. This is where erotica and action can co-exist as forms of writing that need to be tailored in a likeness.

In erotica there's a lot of thinking going on. Interaction between what the characters are feeling and the intense thoughts they might be having about their lover. The same can be said for writing a fight scene. Action is just as intense as a romance scene, if not more so. A lot can be explored in both of these fields. Getting inside the heads of the characters is a great way to make an action scene more intense. Imagine how that person would react. Feel their expressions and convey that emotion, just like you would with erotic works. The dance is beautiful from both angles. Upside down or right side up. I learned that these events can even shape a character or be used as a segue to explore their past.

So my tip is this, if you haven't tried your hand at writing erotica and want to improve your fight scenes, give it a go. I suppose the same can be said for getting better at erotic scenes too. Applying both the rules of clarity, precision, and emotion can actually bring together these difficult scenes. I'm still learning but this is something important I thought would be worth sharing. As always, keep on writing and seek help where it might be needed.

Failing that, pop in some old martial arts films and see where it goes from there. Sometimes I just need to watch slicing, punching, and slamming to get the juices flowing. Martial arts films always have the best expressions too. Failing that, pop on something romantic or sexy, study it and try to apply what you see into words. Clarity will eventually happen if you pay enough attention.

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