Craft, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Reader, Reading, Scene, Writing

Are you writing with zest?

Nothing like a sex scene to get you in the mood! That was the original title of this post, but since it’s partly about subtlety, I nixed that one. Plus, it occurred to me how many disappointed searchers Google would send here.

As usual, I have more than one iron in the fire. I’m working on my next novel, and yes, I did write a sex scene today, but if you’re familiar with my writing, you know I love the art of the tease. In her review of The Brevity of Roses, Christa Polkinhorn said: “And, without any explicit love-making scenes, she creates a highly charged and sensuous atmosphere.” Yes, I do, and I’m doing it again in the next book.

Another thing I’m working on is determining what I do well in my writing. According to at least two of my beta readers, one of my strengths is subtlety. I expect my readers to think—not the drain your brain, reach for the how-to on literary analysis kind of thinking. I like to serve them delicate layers of meaning and just enough detail to incite their imaginations. I want to invite them into the story.

I’ve also just started reading a book that more than one person recommended to me before I finally took the hint. It’s Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing and here’s a passage that jumped out at me:

“If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is—excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health.”

So yes, I’m writing again with zest and loving it. And writing subtle sensual scenes adds a little gusto … as well as alliteration apparently.

Are you only half a writer?

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20 thoughts on “Are you writing with zest?”

  1. Aww, I love this post! It’s wonderful that you are writing with zest again. That’s exactly why I had to take a break for awhile before diving back into Scales again. The zest is back and it’s wonderful! I love that you do subtle well. My problem is that I do it well, but sometimes TOO well and things get completely lost. It’s a fine balance for me, that’s for sure.


    1. Well, Michelle, I haven’t actually sat anyone down and questioned them. I may find I was more subtle than I intended. But I guess you can’t expect every reader to “get” all the layers. Maybe I’ll improve on that in the next book. Or maybe it’s something we entertain ourselves with, like a secret message. 😉


  2. I agree about the zest and will get back to my incomplete writing today, I promise.

    I only knew Alan Titchmarsh as a garden expert but now I shall have to search out one of his books to see what you are all talking about,


    1. I’ve managed 1.500 words today so far, Judith, and I still have a few hours left. Yay!

      I’m almost afraid to read any of the gardener’s fiction. It might be more than I can handle. 🙂


  3. Bradbury saved me! I used to stress about writing to an audience. Now I write for my audience. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I write what I would enjoy reading and hope that it will eventually reach a like minded audience, vs. writing to a specific audience and praying that the work will be accepted.

    Also, I appreciate your stylistic choices. To me there are two schools of thought on writing love scenes. 1.) There are authors that bring the reader along on the discovery and exploration of meaning of love. AND 2.) There are authors that journal the discovery and exploration of the physical nature of the act of love. I’m sort of an old fuddy-duddy and prefer the first over the second. But I understand there is a need and a market for both and that is why it is so important for writers to be true to their voice so that both markets are filled with passionate stories.


    1. I’m enjoying Bradbury’s book, T.A. I haven’t read his writing for at least thirty years, but I’m getting the urge to read some again.

      I’ve written in both the styles you cited. I sort of feel that writing erotica was a stage I needed to go through. I’ve moved past that. That’s a personal choice. I’m not a prude; I just enjoy exploring emotional relationships more in my writing.


  4. That quotation of Bradbury’s book makes me want to read it. As far as love-making scenes are concerned, they are the most difficult parts in a novel for me to write. “Spicy but tasteful,” is my motto and I rather err on the subtle side. But zest they have to have–the love scenes I mean!

    Let me post this and see if it lists my email address again instead of my website. Here is the latter, just in case:


    1. Bradbury’s book inspired me for a bit, Christa. I think I should reread it. 😉

      I like “spicy but tasteful”. When I’m reading, I find myself skipping past too much detail in love-making scenes.

      I’m sure you saw that your URL did not show up. That seems to affect only commenters who have Blogspot blogs. Make of that what you will. 😉


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