Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Sex Gets Boring in Storytelling

I'm half way through Fifty Shades of Grey and, yup, I'm getting restless. There's a lot of sex in this story, more sex than I've ever encountered in any novel, but frankly it's getting boring. It's more like a gynecological report. The two main protagonists spend endless hours having sex or negotiating a sexual contract whereby they define each partner's expectations and what sex acts they will or will not do. The author keeps reminding the reader how flawlessly handsome and rich Christian Grey is because he really has no other redeeming qualities. He's a control freak and a sado-masochist. He gets off on caning poor, befuddled Ana for merely rolling her eyes at him. Think how many times in your life you've rolled your eyes at some man for doing or saying something unquestionably stupid or annoying. Then imagine being caned for it as part of some dominant-submissive role playing. Disturbing.

Usually sex is a tension that helps sustain a novel. In this novel, the line of tension is not the sex. It's whether or not the main protagonist, Ana, who is a very likable character, will finally come to her senses and have the strength of character to save herself from complete, abject humiliation. At least that's why I'm hanging in the story.

Tell me if I've got this all wrong, but this is no love story. Sure there is the hint that Ana might succeed in reforming Christian's twisted ways, but I have grown increasingly alienated from his character and I would be elated if she just gave him the boot and found a normal man--one that had the capacity for love. Really, this is what she is after--something more--love. Stay tuned. Maybe I'll change my mind about this story. I encourage you to read it, because it's different and I suspect there's something to learn from the author, E.L. James.


  1. I haven't read the book, but I get turned off (no pun intended) when any book gets this much press. So, I'm not surprised it isn't as cut out as everyone says it is.

  2. It's a very unusual approach to a novel and so far I'm not understanding what the author is going for here. The sex is very graphic but it's not titillating. I suspect the characters themselves will get very bored with this obsessive sexual relationship and try to go for something deeper and more meaningful.

  3. Hi Linda. I haven't read this novel but to me it sounds appalling and I applaud you for sticking with it. I find it hard to read on if I don't like the characters. I also don't like too much graphic sex in novels. By now you may have finished it. Tell us, was it worth it? You felt there may have been something worthwhile come of it in the end? Was there?

    Glad you posted this.


  4. Dear Linda,
    I have not read the book. To me, passion should always have taste mixed with breathless fire. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hmm, I almost bought this on my Kindle. Glad I didn't now. I just finished another book like this; it was a serious effort to keep re-opening. I like BDSM, but not when it just looks like abusive sex.

    Thanks for reposting this for RFW.


  6. I haven't read this book but doubt I ever will. Even the people who praise it make it sound like something I wouldn't enjoy. I don't mind sex in a novel but it doesn't sound like it was all that 'sexy'.

  7. Hi,

    Hee hee, I haven't read it, and unlikely to on the basis of several comments from fellow writers... One comment referred to repetition, repetition, repetition, and crass plot! I think after having read Anne Rice' Exit to Eden, and erotica being my first publishing contracts, the sample chaps left me cold!! Not the slightest erotic buzzzzzzzz. :o


  8. I've no idea what the book is about, or what the author's intent was. Maybe the point is to have a jerk who seriously needs to be put in his place...but the reader had darned well get some satisfaction before the end. There's a fine line between getting the reader to want to throw a brick at an obvious jerk (and cheering on the characters finally waking up to reality) and inciting the reader to throw bricks at the doormat characters because they're not waking up soon enough :) Sounds like this one has fallen the wrong side of the line.

  9. Thank you all for dropping by to visit this blog post. I am left with this question--how long can an author string a reader along until they get angry with you for not providing a real story? In the case, of Fifty Shades of Grey, I gave the author the benefit of the doubt, but I would not spend a penny on the next book in her trilogy. I know when I've been cheated. Once bit, twice shy.