Stressed about your Smutathon fic?
Wondering where to start?
Worried that your first draft is one hot mess?
Help is here! Smut 101 is your road map to writing great smut. It's designed as a quick start guide full of thoughts and ideas to get you on your way to writing a fabulous story to post this Valentine's Day.
Title: Smut 101: The Geekfiction Guide to Getting It On…On the Page
Author: daphne dangerlove
Disclaimer: The characters used in the examples in this guide do not belong to me. All quoted examples were taken from my fan fiction. This guide is intended for your personal use. Please do not post or reproduce any part of it without permission.
Acknowledgements: I would like to express my gratitude to the following people for their contributions to this project: chadini, csibuckeye, marcasite, mingsmommy, smacky30, scullyseviltwin, viggygirl and velocityofsound.
PLEASE READ: This document is posted in three parts, which you can access behind the cut. However, I recommend you access it in its entirety as a Google Document or an Adobe PDF. Both documents contain all the links and a clickable table of contents. You can print easily from either Google documents (using your browser) or Adobe Reader. (Download Adobe Reader.)
*If you have comments or questions, please leave them on this post so that everyone can benefit from the information. If you have a problem accessing the document or need an alternate format, please email me. (daphne.dangerlove at gmail dot com)
Part I: Basic Tips
Lie vs. Lay
Narrative Point of View
Show and Tell
Where to find a beta reader
A Few Last Tips
Part II: Writing Smut
Words of Wisdom
Do Your Homework
Mind over Mechanics
Making Sex Count
Plotters vs. Pantsers
Rating Your Story
What Will People Think?
Popping Your Cherry: Your First Smut Fic
Fic Archives & Communities
Smut 101: The Geekfiction Guide to Getting It On...On the Page.
This guide came about after a few panicked emails from some fellow writers who had just signed up for the Smutathon, and found themselves wondering where to go next.
There is no one answer to that question, but hopefully the information that I have collected on these pages will at least point you in the right direction. I have provided as many references as I could find, so I encourage you to explore the recommended websites and books, many of which were provided by your fellow writers.
This guide is presented in two parts. The first is a quick overview of common errors in fan fiction, and the second concentrates on how to write a sex scene. Several of our more seasoned smut writers were kind enough to contribute their thoughts on writing sex, and I encourage you to pay particular attention to their advice.
I hope you find this information helpful, and I look forward to seeing your fics posted on Valentine’s Day!
Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a minute to cover some common fan fiction mistakes and how to avoid them.
This is possibly the easiest thing that you can do to ensure that your story starts out on the right track. All word processing programs come with a spellchecker, so use it. If, for some reason, you are using a program without a spellchecker, try one of these:
Google Docs – It’s free and it’s online, so you can access your documents from any computer once you have logged into your Google account. It’s fast and easy to sign up.
Don’t forget to double check how your characters’ names are spelled as well. Nothing is more distracting than an incorrectly or inconsistently spelled character name.
Start a new paragraph when a new person starts speaking.
Examples of correct punctuation. Note the placement of commas in relation to the quotation marks.
Grissom said, "I love bugs."
"Bugs are great," said Sara.
Brass said, “Don’t even think about it," then pulled out his gun.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said Hodges, “welcome to hell."
"Where did they go?" she asked.
"Put your hands up!" shouted the blonde detective.
Your characters come alive through the words you put in their mouths, and traditionally writers have a harder time writing dialogue than narrative. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to help you write more effective dialogue.
Don’t explain your dialogue to the reader
Take a look at the following examples
“You have to be kidding me,” Sara said in astonishment.
“But he would never do that,” Nick said in surprise.
The writer has simply told you how the characters are feeling missing out on an opportunity to show you a little bit more about the character. How our characters react to things tells the reader a lot about them. When you write strong and effective dialogue, the reader will know how the character feels without you saying “hey, Sara is astonished!” When you choose to tell instead of show you cheat the reader out of the chance to feel along with the character.
Resist the urge to explain your dialogue. Instead, use a bit of physical action to accompany your dialogue and show how your character feels.
You have to be kidding me,” Sara said as the knife slipped from her grasp.
Avoid ‘ly’ when writing dialogue
‘ly’ almost always catches the author in the act of explaining dialogue. Examples are: grimly, harshly, listlessly, glowingly, grudgingly, or lovingly. Perhaps you feel the need to dress up the verb said by throwing in a few adverbs. Resist. This actually draws the reader away from the story, and into the mechanics of your delivery. Your dialogue will actually be stronger without these words to prop it up, and flaws will be easier to spot for revision.
Exceptions: As with all good rules, there is an exception to this one. If the adverb modifies the verb said (instead of telling the reader how the dialogue is being delivered), it is permissible. Examples of this would be softly, clearly, or quietly.
Don’t use them as a means to explain your dialogue. How the dialogue is delivered should be inherent in the words your character says. Examples of this would be: ‘she snapped, he growled, she questioned, he intoned, she marveled.’ Even worse is ‘she grimaced, he smiled, she beamed.’ While all of these are examples of explaining dialogue, the second set are the worst offenders because they are physically impossible. You cannot beam a line of dialogue. The primary reason to avoid these verbs is because they draw attention away from the dialogue, once again pointing the reader to the mechanics of delivery.
Said is a transparent verb. Think of it like a period or question mark. Which is another good reason not to use adverbs or explanations with your dialogue; they will just draw attention to said.
Don’t open your paragraph with a speaker attribution.
Place the character’s name first in a speaker attribution. Greg said, versus said Greg.
Decide how you are going to refer to a character and stick with it for the entire scene. Don’t call Doc Robbins Al the first time, the doctor the second, and Robbins the third. People don’t change the way they think of a person during a conversation. Please note, I am not talking about the duration of your story, just the current scene you are working on.
By this time, I am sure you are worrying about the number of ‘saids’ you are going to have in a scene. Here are some ways to help with that quandary.
If it is clear who is speaking, you don’t need a speaker attribution. One warning, avoid ping ponging your dialogue just to avoid using said.
Use beats of action to replace ‘said.’ “You’re beautiful.” Nick brushed his fingers over her cheek. “Let me make love to you.” Just vary action with actual speaker attributions and you will be fine. Too much of one or the other is distracting, you just want to create a comfortable balance between the two.
Lie means to recline, whereas lay means to put something down. Additionally, Lie means that the actor (subject) is doing something to himself or herself. Lay, on the other hand, means that the subject is acting on something or someone else; therefore, it requires a complement to make sense. Thus lay always takes a direct object. Lie never does.
Here’s a list of common errors to watch for:
Switching Tenses – If you start writing in the past tense, don’t suddenly switch to present tense in the middle of a paragraph. Wrong: - Sara picked up her kit and enters the room. She opens it and takes out a roll of duct tape.
Right – Sara picked up her kit and entered the room. She opened it and took out a roll of duct tape.
The most popular options:
First person narrative - This viewpoint uses the pronouns 'I' or 'we' to tell the story.
Third person narrative - This viewpoint uses the pronouns 'he', 'she' or 'they' to tell the story. The narrator can be created so as to be what is called 'omniscient' or 'all-knowing'; here, he or she seems to know about every character and every place.
Mary Sue – We all know her. She’s the striking blonde/brunette/redhead that Grissom/Greg/Nick can’t keep his eyes off of. She sweeps into the lab solving cases and stealing hearts. She’s damaged, yet resilient, brilliant, yet humble…and worst of all she’s you! Resist the temptation.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, “show, don’t tell!” But what exactly does that mean? Showing is how you transport the reader into your world. You do this through writing scenes. Scenes can be challenging to write,
A scene has a few distinct qualities
Setting – A specific location where your scene takes place. It could be the bedroom of Grissom’s townhouse or the backseat of Greg’s car. You can reveal location throughout the scene, so don’t feel pressure to paint a complete picture in the opening sentences. A great way to reveal the scene is by having your characters interact with it. If Nick trips over a loose floorboard entering a crime scene, it paints quite a different picture than Catherine’s heels clicking on a polished marble floor.
Action – Scenes contain action. Nick seduces Greg or Hodges breaks the case wide open. Dialogue will often play a big part in how your scene is revealed to the reader, and by blending it with action you will immerse your reader in the scene.
As with all things, striking a balance between immediate scenes and narrative summary is critical to the flow of your story. Scenes are full of action and engage your reader, but every once in awhile, you want to give your reader a break and slow things down. Here are a few examples of when to use narrative summary:
Adding time into your scenes. Let’s say Hodges finally gets up the nerve to take Wendy to dinner. You might show them arriving at the restaurant as an immediate scene, then use narrative summary to pass the time over dinner, and return to scene when they reach the crucial good night kiss.
Repetitive Action - If Greg needs to run thirty different DNA samples, we don’t need to see him doing each individual one. Concentrate on making a scene out of a critical discovery.
Using a beta reader is one of the best things you can do for your story. Find someone who will be honest with you and be ready to write more than one draft of a story. Betaing starts at punctuation and grammar, but it goes beyond that, encompassing characterization and story structure. Your beta should be familiar with the variant of CSI you are writing as well as with the characters. Be open to what your beta says and think about their advice, whether or not you take it, because it may help you to see your story in a different light.
An effective beta relationship really is an honest conversation between two people. Try to remember it’s the story that is on the line, not you, and your beta’s job is to push you to do your absolute best. And remember to be kind to your beta. Plan ahead. Ask your beta to read your story in advance (not 15 minutes before you need to post), give her enough time to comment on your story, and yourself enough time to make corrections.
Finding a beta is a process, so you may need to work with a few people before you find that symbiotic relationship you are looking for. I am providing you with two resources to find a beta. Be clear about what you are looking for from your beta when you contact them. If they write, take a look at their stories, make sure you enjoy and respect their work.
Geekfiction Resident Beta Listing – Read this list carefully and pay attention to what kinds of fics these kind people will read.
CSI Fan Fiction Writer’s Forum - This LiveJournal community is for CSI fanfiction writers to talk about anything from writer's block to characterization. Come in and ask advice, share your tips, and get support as you join the crazy world of fanfiction writing!
These are the things that sort of defy a category, but are worth some consideration.
Use bolding and ******asterisks******* in your fic as sparingly as possible, if at all. Exclamation points are used one at a time! It is distracting at best to use these tricks, and if you have done your job as a writer, you don’t need that type of propping up for your writing.
Use a beta reader. If you choose not to at least have someone do a quick read through, don’t write in your author’s notes it was because you were lazy or impatient. That is the equivalent of saying I don’t care and is hardly an endorsement of your story. Not beta’d will suffice.
Resist the urge to pepper your sex scenes with the following dialogue:
“uuhhhhhhggggg” or “Ccccooooommminnggg” She moaned or he moaned will do just as nicely. You could also throw in a “More” or “faster” to show that he or she is about to come versus the announcement
And one final thing that I want to address here is the use of epithets. I am not talking about swear words. Epithets are terms used as substitutes for the name of a character. For the love of all that is good and right in the world, do not use these in a smut scene. An example of what not to do:
The brown eyed Crime Scene Investigator slid his hand over the curve of the Detective’s hip.
This is a particular challenge in slash or femslash fics when it is difficult to use pronouns clearly. It’s okay to use the character’s name. Referring to your characters by their job title is just not the kind of mood you are trying to set up when writing smut.
CONTINUE ON TO PART 2