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‘Good’ writing VS. ‘Right’ writing: what you can learn from ‘bad’ books that sell a lot

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Your writing is going to FAIL (at first)

It invariably will. Unless you’ve had some surprisingly savvy upbringing from a Kardashian-type family who taught you everything you would possibly have to know about succeeding on online businesses, chances are your writing will certainly fail.

At first. Eventually, things start picking up.

And it’s not because you write badly, mind you, but because you write wrongly.

What’s the difference between writing badly and writing wrongly? Well, it’s actually pretty simple.

Writing badly means only writing in a way people cannot understand.

Anyone recognizes bad writing when they read one: it’s on your hasty text messages or on bad Tumblr posts of some millennial college girls with nothing better to do with their lives.

Bad writing is on most pieces of rushed-out erotica and also on the most successful books on Earth.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is bad writing —or, at the very least, it’s incompetent writing.

Does it matter a lot? Not really, because it’s also right writing.

And what would ‘right writing’ be? To put it simply, it’s writing that fulfills its goals.

Bad writing is about the aesthetics of the text, regardless of its commercial viability. Any Pulitzer or National Book Award winner can be classified as ‘good writing’, though not necessarily ‘right writing’.

Most highly awarded books on Earth end up selling miserably and being forgotten under the rug of History. When that happens, it begets the question: ‘is it worth writing well if no one is going to care for it?

As a very responsible person, I always say that you should do the best you can in any activity you set your mind to.

So, if you write, you better write well and competently; you better, yes, have good writing.

But here’s the key issue most authors —including erotica ones like me— tend to ignore:

You should focus on ‘right writing’ first, ‘good writing’ second

I guess I haven’t explained in detail what ‘right writing’ means, right?

Well, here it is: ‘right writing’ means ‘effective product’. A ‘right way’ to write means that your book / short story / piece connects with its audience, regardless of the high level of writing complexity or narrative elegance you put into it.

A very long, winding, poetic and moving text might be good for an author’s ego, but would be disastrous as a text message sent to a milleanial.

If you write a very long and academically rigorous book with the sole purpose of winning awards —and you do end up winning them!—, then you’ve done both good and right writing.

‘Good’ because your writing is aesthetically, academically competent.

‘Right’ because it also fulfills the express purpose of your work: to win awards.

Now, if you want your book to sell, say, 1 million copies with general audiences, yet you keep writing as if to be read only by illustrious college professors, then you’re gonna have a bad time.

Your book might turn out to have ‘good writing’, but it’s hardly gonna have ‘right writing’.

If it fails with the audience —and considering that the audience was indeed your primary purpose—, then the writing is simply not ‘right’.

It’s a ‘wrong book’, as in ‘it’s a wrong product’.

‘Good writing’ is concerned with the objective quality of your text. ‘Right writing’ is concerned with the marketability of your text.

Is your book well written? Then it has ‘good writing’.

Is your book selling well with your audience? Then it has ‘right writing’.

That’s why you see so many successful books that are nonetheless badly written: their text might be objectively bad, but it fulfills the expectations of its audience, so it sells.

Every author should focus primarily on ‘right writing’ rather than ‘good writing’, simply because a good text that doesn’t reach its audience might as well never have been written in the first place.

You should mind the needs of your audience before everything else; have a narrative / writing style that you are sure is going to be successful with most of your readers, then write according to these standards.

Later you can improve your text and try to make it a better piece of literature. However, you’ve got to make sure that the core needs of your audience are taken care of before anything else, because a text that doesn’t sell does not exist!

Of course, I’m considering books that are primarily for commercial sales here. If your main objective is winning awards or just fulfilling yourself emotionally and spiritually, then the rules are obviously different.

But if you, like me, want to sell your books to your audience, you must adjust your ‘right writing’ to your audience’s needs.

Anything that departs from it might be ‘good writing’, but ain’t a ‘right’ one. Capisce?

So…

What does that have to do with writing erotica?

Hear me out: when I started writing erotica, a wrote a very long book with many scenes of seduction, a lot of characterization, tons of attention to detail…

And little sex. Yep, that’s right: an erotica writer left sex as a second thought.

I honestly invested 70% of my time getting the characters names, personalities and chronologies right rather than on having them, you know… actually f**king!

Big problem!

I’m not saying, naturally, that your erotica should be devoid of any characterization or coherent plot. Oh, God, far from that! I’ve talked about that on my previous post, for cry out loud!

Good sex DOES need a coherent storyline! It DOES need compelling characters and it DOES needs a coherent narrative.

But you shouldn’t waste too much time on it.

When readers look for erotica, they look primarily for one thing, and sometimes one thing only: GREAT SEX!

Your story’s characters, narrative, plot and all its details are ALL in service of this one thing: GREAT SEX!

If some extensive characterization doesn’t help make the eventual sex any hotter, you CUT IT.

If some piece of detail in the environment is not useful for making the characters even more aroused for each other, you IGNORE IT!

That’s what it means to write ‘rightly’ when it comes to making erotica: everything you write must make the sex feel HOTTER, WILDER, more SAVAGE and INTENSE.

Anything that doesn’t make the sex better, even if it’s just superfluous information, should be CUT OUT!

When you get this principle right, you’ll feel that your books just flow better —and are much hotter to boot!

Even superfluous information might be just unnecessary fat that clogs the pacing, so you should just leave it out with no mercy.

Aiming your writing towards the production of great sex is the only way to make consistently good erotica… and it’s also where ALL erotica writers fail in their first tries… including me! 😀

So, what exactly did I do wrong? A personal account

On a previous post, I’ve talked about how my biggest mistake in erotica was not actually in the writing, but rather in the publishing process, as I’ve published a book far too long for most buyers to be willing to read.

When it comes to erotica, after all, readers want short stories super charged with sexual content, even if they have to pay way more for them than they would for most ‘regular’ books.

You can read my findings here, if you’re interested: ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake as an erotica writer!’ It is a very good article.

Okay, back to the main issue: when I’ve first written “Tara’s Discovery”, I had many conflicting ideas of what constituted a good erotica story.

To put it simply (and nicely), I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

I thought that ‘good erotica’ meant ‘lots of romance’ and ‘character development’, so I crammed the book with it.

It’s a very well written book. Actually, of all the erotica I’ve written so far written (most of which is yet to be published), this one is the best written of them all.

It’s elegant, it’s poetic, it’s even witty and clever at many points… but it’s not erotic.

I mean, it is, but it’s not nearly as erotic as we could have been. A lot of time is wasted on characterization that doesn’t help the characters look hotter, and the story comes and goes through unnecessary details and elements of world-building.

The story is not a romance, but it’s not a full blown erotica either. It’s, let’s say, an ‘80% erotica’ with super interesting characters, the best writing I can possibly offer… and not an awful lot of sex.

There is seduction, sure, there’s a lot of fantasizing about sex, certainly, but there’s not a lot of actual sex.

Yes, the last 90 pages of the book, are indeed pure sex, but to get to them the readers need to go though 100+ pages of teasing, character development and much more ‘boring stuff.’

Analyzing my failures under the ‘good’ VS. ‘right’ writing optics

Let’s go back to the ‘good writing’ and ‘right writing’ analogy and analyze my first erotica book, ‘Tara’s Discovery’, under its light, okay?

Is my book well-written? Yes. Does it have interesting characters, consistent motivations, coherence world-building and so and so on? Yes, yes, yes, it does.

Then it has good writing. Check. Now, to the ‘right writing’ part…

Does the book have a scorching sex scene at the end of every 10-20-page section? No.

It does have teasing and it does have a lot of masturbation and fantasizing about sex, but no actual sex.

Then ‘no’, the book does not contain enough sex for an erotica.

Does it have vivid description of sex scenes? Well, it does, but not nearly as detailed as many scenes from even ‘Fifty Shades’.

Overall, is the book as ‘hot’ as it could possibly be? Does it fulfill the primary purpose of an erotica, which is to generate pleasure and make readers cum?

Overall, no. It’s lacking in many areas and could be drastically improved.

The book wastes a lot of time on non-sexy things, more akin to a romance, so it isn’t a perfectly great word of erotica.

It’s good, but it could be much better. Therefore, it’s not a ‘right writing.’

Good writing VS. Right writing: a very interesting insight

This article was supposed, at first, to teach readers how to write more truthfully and craft excellent sex scenes, which I eventually discovered to do by just a few trials and errors with my own writing.

Thing is, once you get a clear idea of what readers want, you quickly discover what to do and what to avoid.

I’m a very good (or at least productive) writer myself, with tons of previous experiences in many other fields of work, so crafting stories wasn’t all too difficult for me.

In short, this article was supposed to teach readers how to ‘get to the point’ and write obscenely hot, detailed and wild sex scenes, but than it expanded to something so much bigger than what I had predicted.

This ‘good writing VS. right writing’ paradigm was actually a really great insight. It tackles directly the perennial question many authors ask themselves:

How can bad books sell? Does it mean I have to write badly in order to sell?

Well, as it happens, authors are confused because they don’t known how to distinguish ‘good writing’ from ‘right writing’.

‘Good writing’ fulfills critical and literary expectations. ‘Right writing’ fulfills your audience’s needs.

Audiences and critics don’t always want the same things. Actually, they usually want very different things altogether.

Most critics scorn at erotica for being a ‘low brow’, ‘transient’ kind of literature, but that’s because they’re expecting things that aren’t the main focus of erotica books.

Erotica is meant for people to come. Pure and simple. Anything else is unnecessary waste.

Audiences want to come, but critics want the ‘anything else’: character development, detailed descriptions of mental states and environments, etc.

For an erotica work to succeed, it needs to cater to its audiences, not its critics, hence the average result is erotica that’s not particularly well-written, but that’s brimming with hot sex and vivid, sizzling romantic encounters.

Not good for critic, but great for audiences. Ergo: ‘bad’ writing, but also ‘right’ one.

Authors must always, first and foremost, have in mind what they hope to achieve with their books.

For erotica authors, this objective is really simple: making your audience come. Everything else is of secondary importance.

So, in summary…

  • ‘Good writing’ fulfills objective standards of beauty and literary competence in a text. It’s the popular ‘writing well’ that most writers obsess about;
  • ‘Right writing’, however, is about meeting the expectations of your target audience;
  • An Award-winning book meant for commercial publishing that nonetheless sells poorly is a ‘well written book’, but also a ‘wrong’ one;
  • A critically lambasted book meant for commercial publishing that sells some 10 million copies may have “bad writing”, but it’s simply a ‘right book’.
  • If your main objective is selling a book and you actually sell it… congratulations! Your book has ‘right writing’!
  • Writing ‘right’ should ALWAYS take precedence to writing ‘well’;
  • Writers need to always have their primary objective in check so as to avoid frustration: why are you writing your book? Is it to sell lots of copies? Is it to gain critical adulation? Whatever it is, write according to your intent!

It’s pretty simple, don’t you agree?

Alright, next week I might talk a little bit more on how to write effectively as an erotica author. That means crafting vivid, convincing and exciting sex scenes that actually, literally make your readers come!

I even have a title for this article already. It’ll be called (probably): “Growing your confidence as an erotica writer: how to write better, faster and more truthfully”.

That’s it for the day, my sweeties. See you next time! 😉

5 thoughts on “‘Good’ writing VS. ‘Right’ writing: what you can learn from ‘bad’ books that sell a lot”

  1. It is a hard balance to attain in erotica, poor vs characterization vs erotic content. Ultimately yes, it’s ‘one-handed ‘ literature. Thought about this a lot and ultimately find it hard to write simply for the market though; there has to be satisfaction with the process and quality of output.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re totally right, Libre!

      I personally like that erotica is so much “simpler” (or, as you’d put it, “one-handed”) than more, let’s say, “traditionally respected” literature.

      I mean, it’s so much more freeing to right about sexy people doing sexy scenes than, I don’t know, sad and depressing and boring and contemplative philosophical topics, or whatever academics seem like these days.

      I mean, I’m having the TIME OF MY LIFE writing my current erotica. So much so that my sex life is actually being DAMAGED for it.

      You know, I’m imagining scenes SO HOT that real life sex is becoming… anticlimatic! 😀 😀 😀

      there has to be satisfaction with the process and quality of output.

      Again, spot on. Many people like coming to the industry with this mentality that “it’s an industry first, passion second; if you don’t write what the client wants, regardless of whether your like or not, you shouldn’t do it.”

      I mean, I get what they’re saying, but to me, when it comes to writing (any writing), it’s either you like it or you dont; if you DON’T like it, then don’t do it.

      It’s not supposed to be a job you drudge on, but a hobby you naturally (and happily) develop into a job.

      If you’re not happy writing, then you should simply find another, more fulfilling job.

      You can only make money on this industry if you REALLY apply yourself to it for a long time –which can be a TOTAL NIGHTMARE if one doesn’t like the job to begin with. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed. If you’re writing erotica because you think it’s a cash cow, think again. And if you don’t enjoy reading it or are embarrassed, it’s the wrong genre for you. I am genuinely unembarrassed, don’t have that valve. One of the guidelines is: is this turning me on as I write it? Hey, some writers have coffee breaks…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the guidelines is: is this turning me on as I write it?

    Hahaha! That’s totally my guideline too!

    Well, I think this is the only tru compass for people writing erotica, right? “You getting wet / hard with it?”

    If the answer is positive… keep going on! 😉

    And if you don’t enjoy reading it or are embarrassed, it’s the wrong genre for you

    Honestly, I think this goes without saying. People who come to erotica purely because of money quit in 1 or 2 weeks tops.

    After their very first release, they’ll realize that there’s virtually no easy money here and quit.

    I sincerely don’t know why many people still think that erotica is such an “make money fast” scheme, or why they think it’s like a writing job as any other.

    Erotica is as personal as one will ever get with their writing; in the literary world, it’s the equivalent of being nude in public.

    You’ll only do this if you’re really passionate about what you write. There’s little space for other motives. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a thirty
    foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad
    is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is
    entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Like

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