ErinBatt author of Secret Sex
Your story Secret Sex is amazing! The thing that stands out to me the most is the way you balance the physical and emotional so perfectly without being overwhelming with either. Is there a particular method to how you do this?
Emotionally: I try to get into the characters heads. I try to really imagine how they would feel and what they would be thinking. Then I include it. I don’t fast-forward through any thought processes or sentiments. Where I pass the time is when I am not in the middle of a “moment”. I think readers feel cheated when a writer skimps on the emotional descriptions for the sake of travelling through the timeline at a steady pace. Slow it down when the main characters are interacting and really, REALLY let them tell the story. How they are feeling, why, what they are afraid of and how each touch or word affects them. Include any silent musings they may be entertaining and every prominent breath, or sigh.
You can always go back through and skim the fat later.
Physically: I think this is an extension of the emotion. Let the emotions dictate the actions. I try really hard to convey in SS that every touch, every whisper, and even the mere thought of touch is a product of how intense the characters love is for one another. Even when the sex is more rough and desperate, be in their minds, appreciate that they still love each other, and then you will find a way to convey that. It can be an internal thought about the partner, or a description of a delicate touch amidst the frantic need. Or just break your characters entirely. Start with raw smut and end with cradled faces and tear-streaked cheeks. That’s real life. Sex is fluid and doesn’t necessarily maintain the same tenor from the beginning to the end. It shifts – emotions and actions can shift as well.
Describing that well might be what sets “smut for smut’s sake” apart from delicious lovemaking. Both can be hot, but only one will create an emotional, visceral reaction within the reader.
2) Do you have a writing ritual?
I may or may not totally talk to myself. lol. But I need to hear most dialogue aloud in real life to appreciate whether or not it comes off as natural. And more often than not, as I am reading it out loud I realise I am missing things that if it were a true conversation the people would say.
Other than that…no. Just editing. Lots and lots of editing. I reread each chapter between 5 and 8 times from end to end before I am usually satisfied with it.
And of course it really helps to envision the entire scene before you write it so everything is natural. Imagine where the characters are placed, what the room looks like, where everyone else is, what is happening around them. It all helps to allow you to include one or two little lines that won’t necessarily stand out to the reader, but will subconsciously create an intensely rich visual in their minds as they read – which they will thoroughly appreciate no matter what the scene *cough, esp smut*. Teehee
3) A lot of SU students are parents. As a mother how do you find time to write smut with a little one around?
AHEM *looks around to see if I’m being judged*
No, truthfully, I am just an insomniac. I usually don’t fall asleep until somewhere past 4am and am up a few hours later. There are many mornings I watch the sun come up, glare at it, pour some coffee, and then throw in the towel. This leaves me a lot of writing time.
I can edit during the day when my toddler is mid-activity if I have a few moments to spare, but for the creative and focused portions I need to be in a room alone for. So they are mostly done at the ungodly hours that normal humans being spend sleeping J. Sorry, I get that that isn’t very helpful.
4) What was behind your decision to continue your story from a one-shot to a multi-chap fic?
I wrote the o/s when the blog contacted me, but I based it on a string of little vignettes that had been floating around in my mind for ages. So when the o/s seemed to be widely enjoyed, I thought I would bridge together the ideas and create a little story out of it, if for no other reason than to get them out of my head. But what I thought would take no more than 15 chapters to connect has now snowballed into this beautiful entity that I truly enjoy and love. I love, LOVE these characters, so I was more than happy to tell their story at a slower pace than I originally decided upon.
5) What words are completely off limits in your smut writing? *coughpu***cough* i couldnt even bring myself to type it lol
YOU ALREADY KNOW! Hahahaha, you are just trying to make me say it darn you. For those that don’t know: the p-word kills me. It’s so graphic and icks me out. I have fervently blocked this word from SS with three very traumatic-for-me exceptions where it seemed appropriate and not its usual slimy, vulgar self. All three cases I had to literally type it, not dwell on it, never re-read it, and ignore it knowing that I am the minority and most smut readers are just fine with that…word.
Other than that… nothing is off limits as long as it is within the realm of feasibility for the characters.
6) Is there anything you wouldn’t write? (slash, J/B etc.)
I would never, under any circumstances write a Bella x Jacob primary pairing. I have a hard time reading the ones where there is a Jake at all lol. I guess I am just old-school, canon, and boring. But I just can’t do it. Ed and B belong together and while I am all for manipulating the crap out of them and twisting SM’s characters beyond recognition…I at the bare minimum need canon pairings, otherwise I’m thrown off. And Jake is a buddy. Anything else makes my poor, wittle team Edward heart ache.
Slash…hahaha. I doubt I would write that. But the idea makes me giggle.
Physical abuse or anything along those lines I guess. No thanks. I just like telling a love story. When it comes down to it, that was what SM did. I’m all for bumps in the road, but I really could never tell an overly angsty fic with E and B. (If you read my other story this may seem odd to you, but be patient lmao).
7) My favorite scene so far (although i hate to admit it because ill lose my perv card for this lol) is that first kiss. It’s just soooo amazing! Every girl should be kissed like that at least once in her life. It was beautifully executed by you and just kudos for writing it lol the question is how do you know when what you wrote is just right? For instance, ill write a scene an then ill go back and delete stuff that doesn’t fit with what i ended with and in the end i have a passable piece but your scenes are just perfect. How do you know when to stop writing or editing or whatever?
Thank you. That entire chapter always stands out to me. I guess it really was “the beginning” but also, the end…you know? In that scene Edward realises as he is standing there before her, cradling her face and absorbing the electricity and anticipation of a kiss, that whether or not he actually follows through with kissing her, she wants him to, he wants to, all of which is obvious, and thus everything has irrevocably been altered regardless. He may as well kiss her.
Every chapter needs something – a scene that for whatever reason really resonates with the reader. A revelation like Bella admitting to only eating chocolate around Edward, or a tender scene, or an exposing conversation.
I usually write the skeleton of a chapter, and then read through it and delete the unnecessary story-telling (he moved, she stood, etc…) and make it more concise and flow more smoothly. Those pieces are unnecessary in the final product but as I’m typing it helps to maintain my stride by including them.
Then I go back and “colour” it in. I add the personality and texture to each scene. But I have to do this several times before I feel like a chapter is ready. And sometimes I will be gnawing over a scene that is missing that something special to make it dynamic and noteworthy, then randomly in the shower or something the missing piece will just scamper through my mind and I have to rush to get it typed before I lose it. (I have a HORRID memory). It is usually some bit of dialogue or a sentiment that needed further elaboration. It’s hard to say, but there is that solid, gut feeling when you know the chapter has each piece in place and you can finally call it “done”.
Number one tip you have for the SU students:
Let your characters lead you, not the other way around, so that your story has a natural flow to it. Don’t force anything. There have been so many occasions where I have a chapter outline on paper, I go to type, and before I know it my characters have hijacked the chapter and I have lost all control. Roll with it, it technically isn’t your story to tell anyway J.
A recent example of what I mean is SS Chapter 19 More and More. The story starts with a silent car ride back from La Push after New Years Eve. From there it was supposed to transition into waking up, plane rides, and Edward in New York being grumpy and miserable. My paper outline literally has one line for “silent car ride”. If you have read that chapter you know all 20+ pages of it is silent and follows them from the car, to the shower, then the breakfast table and finally the airport. All with minimal dialogue and heavy emotion. I had none of that planned. But as I tried to type them tucking themselves into bed…they just kind of refused. It made what followed pretty heavy in my opinion and entirely organic. It might even be my favourite chapter.