Frigid Fiction

The beginning of this post is rather … unusual, and to lessen my chances of it getting search hits of the wrong sort, I will use creative spelling.


Let’s just say a woman had a s.e.x dream and in this dream, though aware the act was taking place, she felt none of the usual physical sensations. Then, at the moment of what should have been an exhilarating s.e.x.u.a.l orgasm, she felt her soul being pulled out through her entire upper body instead.

As a writer, I might see this dream as an illustration why a scene I struggled through editing yesterday did not have the desired impact. Although the scene is written in deep third pov, I failed to convey the intensity of the character’s thoughts and feelings. Though I wanted the reader right there in the scene, I kept them far away from feeling the emotion of it. In effect, I ripped the soul out of what should have been a powerful scene.

It’s okay, we’re all adults. Let’s talk openly. Do you ever discover passages of frigid fiction in your writing?

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She said what?!

In this round of novel editing, I discovered a problem caused by rearranging scenes. I was reading merrily along when I said to myself, “Wow, is Renee a bitch or what?” Granted Renee’s a little rough around the edges, and says pretty much what she thinks, but still. I didn’t believe she and Jalal knew each other well enough, at that point, for her to speak to him that way.

So, to check out my theory, I took all the bits of conversation they’d had up to this scene and pasted them into another file. I cut out all narrative and dialogue tags, and color-coded to make it easier to see only the words they had spoken to each other. Like this example (which is not the bitchy part):

“I love your accent.”
“I don’t have an accent.”
“No? Say my name.”
“Well … maybe a little.”
“So … you were born in Iran.”
“Indeed.”
“Are you … Muslim?
“No.”
“Will you ever move back home?”
“This is my home; I am an American citizen. I have lived here a long time.”

The conversation that got my attention used to appear a later in the book where Renee’s little dig at Jalal made more sense. But I had shifted around previous scenes which moved this scene up. These two had actually said less than 800 words to each other, so yes, it was inappropriate for Renee to feel such familiarity with Jalal that she would take such a jab at him. The fix will be to insert a new scene, in which they get to know each other a little better, before this one. (Yay, higher word count!)

Btw, I also found out that dialogue can look pretty dull without the narrative. 🙂