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. I think when I first started writing my novel that I really hot caught up in trying to write what I thought others wanted to read instead of concentrating on the story that was within me. I found myself getting stuck so many times instead of writing with that zest. I’ve since found my love of the story instead and it’s great! Great post!


    1. I did the same thing in reverse, Laura. When I wrote Brevity I didn’t doubt myself like that and writing it was exhilarating. But with this one I started questioning whether this was the right book, whether anyone would want to read this story, whether I should write with a different tone, etc. When I let all that go, I was free to write. Now I’m having fun again.

      Enjoy your writing. 🙂


  2. Subtle sensual is more desirable(no pun intended) to me in print and film because I am tired of the pornographic nature of things so demeaning. The is a difference in the embrace of loving sex than just sex for plot filler and the excitement of a reader to whom that may appeal.


    1. There is a reader for everything, Carl. Perhaps some people have so little imagination they need everything spelled out. I happen to think the imagination is a powerful tool and invite my readers to use theirs.


  3. I’m for subtle, every time. Over here, Alan Titchmarsh (yes, really), won an award for the worst sex scene ever. It was an unsubtle hoot of purple prose that must have originated behind the boys’ bike sheds in 1965. I can’t be doing with male stereotypical huffing, thrusting, and pumping, or Mills & Boon pseudo-delicacy either, so I know what not to write. Trouble is, that doesn’t help with writing what I do like so I’ll be watching your approach very closely!
    As I was writing this, I was completely distracted by Dr Kitsch (Lord Kitchener, 1963) on the radio. Classic innuendo.


    1. The name Alan Titchmarsh sounded familiar and then I thought, Oh no, she can’t mean the Ground Force guy! But I googled it and you did. I’ll bet he’s sold millions despite … or because of … his dubious award.

      I think I’ve read only three “romance novels” in my life, Suzanne. Those purple prose passages just made me laugh. And I tried erotica a few times and came to the conclusion that it only works when the writer has your exact tastes because each time the “mood” was broken because the writer added some “turn on” that wasn’t for me. To each his own.

      Innuendo indeed.


  4. Verily, it is he! Luckily, he’s a Yorkshire lad and so either talks like that in real life, or believes he’s the only one who knows how to write. I suspect the former as I’m from Yorkshire and have experienced a few ‘romantic’ lines from these men-of-the-earth. The parents of one paramour said to him as we arrived at his home, ‘We’ll not put the kettle on, she’ll not be staying long’. I didn’t!


  5. Same league as the Irish. My mum’s aunt told her ‘You’re just like your mother, but not so bonnie’. Good thing our self esteem is boiler-plated!


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