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Packing Heat 112: Late Additions

Listener Feedback

Nobilis Reed asked me to add a word to my "please don't" list: lave.
The primary definition:
verb [ trans. ] poetic/literary
wash : she ran cold water in the basin, laving her face and hands.

It had never occurred to me that the primary definition of the word "lave" was to wash. But if that's the case, why is it commonly used in erotica as a synonym of "lick?"

-Many erotic romance writers read primarily in their own genre. All it takes is one writer to say "lave" rather than "lick," someone else to repeat the weird usage, and so on. Pretty soon, much of the genre thinks it's a great synonym.

-It sounds writerly. Even the piddly dictionary on my computer marks it as poetic/literary!

I challenge you to get in touch with the reality of something, your own shoes, and to observe and describe them multiple times in plain, honest words. Don't try to sound like a writer. Look, and analyze. Look, and analyze. Feel, and analyze.

Try to break the habit of going through multiple filters, of describing what you think something is like rather than observing it, and then saying it in a way you think a writer would say it, instead of just using honest language.

Late Additions

Samuel Sullivan from Heroies. Hottie!Spoilers ahead for the TV show Heroes!

As I'm working my way through the final season of Heroes, I'm shocked that I don't like one of the story lines more. It's a carnival. I love carnivals! I think the main guy is hot! (Seriously...he feeds my dessicated rock star/carnie fantasies big time.) So why don't I like it?

Because it's dropped in out of nowhere, as if they hope the coolness, the spectacle of it, will be enough to carry the story.

Another new element was a flashback to a 1960's interment camp that featured teenaged versions of many of the show's past and present older generation characters being rounded up and experimented on. I LOVED IT. It felt like it was seething under the surface of the show for the past three years.

I think we can use this as writers. If we need to introduce a new element toward the end of the book, we can do so—but only if we tie it in to something that happened early on in the story and make it seem as if we've been hinting toward it all along.

Your Assignment

Take your longest work in progress and re-read the first few chapters, focusing on what sorts of promises you made. How can you fulfill them—maybe with a twist—in a way that will satisfy your readers?

Also, I'd welcome comments or questions I can use on the show!

About 18 minutes: http://packingheat.net/2010/07/13/packing-heat-112-late-additions.aspx


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
I first encountered laving for licking in Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson back in 78. Logan is with a girl in the Glasshouse and he laves her breast with his tongue.

It's nothing new, but I wonder how many other geekgirls like me are tempted to use it.

Lave, as in lavoratory.

Jul. 14th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
Lavatory/lave! I never thought about it! (I just never gave the word much thought in general.)
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
Just to be annoying. :-) To me lave could mean lick if you take it in the feline sense. A cat licks her kittens which is in essence washing them. So it's kind of a cat-like version of washing which COULD be sexy. Now to be honest, I don't really like the word and I find it rather awkward and ... old fashioned? Maybe it reminds me too much of lathe which is something completely different. LOL

I noticed you said you don't use outlines much. I tried. I write for fun, mostly short stuff on dares but I got this bee in my bonnet and I've been piddling around with something longer. I got all "professional" and had 4 pages of notes about the characters and how it would all play out. I even had pictures of the setting I wanted to use. I got to page 10 and woooooooooh, that was the end of that plan. Well, the characte descriptions still worked more or less and the setting but the story is so not going the way it was supposed to. I still like it but some part of me says I failed because I didn't follow that very efficient outline. Sigh.

As for questions, as an author how do you keep from getting paranoid. I mean you read people say "I hate it when they never mention eating in a story" and 10 people agree. Then you read "I hate it when all the boring stuff about eating and cleaning are included" and 10 people agree. Then someone says "I hate it when they use 'jumped off of the pier', it should be 'jumped off the pier'". "Don't use so many commas." "Use some damn commas." There is so much conflicting information from readers and from editors, I think it's easy to try and know what to add, what to cut and what style to use. When do you just say "Screw it, I don't care if you don't like reading that they ate cereal for breakfast, I do, so I'm putting it in."

That should do for today. Yammer should be my middle name.
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
I'm all for people using any word they damn well please as long as they know what it means and why they're using it.

I'm sorry diverging from your outline made you scrap your project. I think outlining sucks the life out of things for me. There's so little discovery left if a piece is rigidly outlined before you start. And yet, that working method is great for some people!

Interesting that you notice the conflicting bitchery. It makes me very paranoid. I do my best to not look at too much commentary, but then again I like to "hang out" online with my spare time...that might make an interesting podcast, but I would need to be careful not to sound defensive. I think all you can do is be true to your own ideas. Thanks so much for the food for thought! (Cereal for thought?)
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Oh I didn't scrap it. I'm still soldiering on 100+ pages later but I feel a bit like I did something wrong, even though I've never used an outline before I thought I was being so efficient, but I guess it's just not my thing. It has a lot of characters though, more than I usually include (which is 2 LOL) so it helped me to keep them all straight until I got to "know" them and what they looked like and their personalities and places in the story. So not a total loss and coming up with all those people and descriptions was fun.
Jul. 14th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
Whew, I thought you ditched it. I'm glad you didn't! I usually outline as I go, in a way, because so much discovery happens as I write. So usually I write a chunk of story, then take some time to reflect on it, journal about it, think about it. The longer stories have longer pause-times where I have to reflect and let things simmer.

It's always a relief to get to the point where you feel like you now know your characters well enough that you don't have to analyze what they're doing, you can just feel that it's their personality.
Jul. 14th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
I outline or I wander. Outlines keep me on track. But they can change (I try pretty hard to stick to them, but not so much that I'm not listening to my better sense).

I find that when I veer from my outline, I always do it in the same direction -- which is fine for the first story, maybe, but I don't want all of my stories to be so similar, with the same characters, the same reactions, the same plot complications, etc. And my lazy brain will take that easy/known track if I don't jerk it back to a plan now and then.

That is the greatest use of an outline for me.

ETA (sorry Jordan): oh meant to say that lave has never bothered me much. A bit overused, but not as much as other words. Spanish is a close second language for me, and lavar means to wash, and like Tam said, 'lave' brings connotations a little more thorough and loving and tasting than 'lick'. I can't think of a word that works better for what it's intended, which to me, is the test of it's utility.

Edited at 2010-07-15 02:57 am (UTC)
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
I'm not a laver myself, so I didn't think much about it. I think it's important to include feedback so it's not just me, wanking, and a microphone.

This thing about gravitating toward the same story is fascinating. My gut reaction is that maybe you have certain themes you need to explore. Probably the first 8 years I wrote, my main theme was that the unlovable finds love. Actually, maybe I'm still writing that.
Jul. 15th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
I'm not a laver myself, so I didn't think much about it.

*grin*. Could take this a couple of ways, but am assuming you meant you don't use the word. Heh. Neither do I actually, and probably won't because it is a little too 'precious' (I could see using it in a more historical voiced story, maybe). Just meant it's not one I have a gut-hate reaction to.

Interesting, your observation re. outlines, and I'll have to think about that. I still think outlines help me stay on track. I didn't explain well, but I tend to wander into boredom and plot corners as well (where nothing is happening), and if the author is bored, what hope does the story have? It's as if an outline pushes me to look into the other rooms and stretch my boundaries a bit.

Even so, there is probably something to what you say that I should think about (id'ing what that might be and keeping/developing it). And oh, maybe that's one of the reasons I jumped on your writing so hard. I still haven't gotten over my outcast/unloveable finds love. Keep writing it, I'll read it. ^^
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
Could take this a couple of ways... Actually, I think it means I need a shower.

I get to that nothing is happening spot a lot too! I usually have to back up and kill some words at that point, as well as journaling and thinking.

It sounds like your outline functions for you the way "other" strictures function for me. In my case, things like random plot elements, or in the new story, throwing myself on the mercy of a vote for major story decisions. It shows me the edges of the paper I'm sketching on. Sometimes these artificial constructs force me to think better, and I come up with more interesting stuff.
Jul. 15th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
It sounds like your outline functions for you the way "other" strictures function for me. In my case, things like random plot elements, or in the new story, throwing myself on the mercy of a vote for major story decisions. It shows me the edges of the paper I'm sketching on. Sometimes these artificial constructs force me to think better, and I come up with more interesting stuff.

Wow, yes, bingo. All this sounded spot on to how I use them.
Jul. 15th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
I definitely don't like "lave". I think it can be pretentious, but worse I think it's less evocative than "lick". Lick is a great word! If you lick something whether it's a person or a popsicle you get some pretty intense sensory input! :D Maybe it goes back to when we're babies and quite happy to try to figure out what things are by tasting them. So yes, to me lick is a word that packs more punch than lave.
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
I very much enjoy the word "lick." I think it's very decisive. A macho word ;-)
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
I'm not a "lave" fan. Worse, though, is when I read a book—and I have, and from presumably top-notch publishers that have editors—where the word "lathe" is used when clearly "lave" was intended.

Jul. 15th, 2010 08:59 am (UTC)
You must read too many woodworking books ;-)
Jul. 15th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I catch that one. I mark it when I make that change, so the book editor can let the author know, or so at least the editor knows to watch for it. Sometimes I do editing rants on my LJ without naming the particular author. Then I specify that this is not something Jordan does. Same with this -- it's not something Jordan does. Unfortunately, other authors use words without actually knowing what they mean, and it's so easy to tell.
Jul. 16th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC)
I remember once in my early writing days I swapped the words "reverie" and "revelry," knowing full well what both meant but just having a brain lapse. My beta reader caught it, thankfully!
Jul. 17th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
Jumping in late here
But if I could add my two cents as a reader, one word I really really REALLY HATE is screamed - as in, "I screamed my pleasure" or "it felt so good I screamed" or "he screamed as he came."

I get that the author is trying to indicate a sexual experience that is so overwhelmingly good that the participants can't control themselves. But really? I mean, if I was having sex with someone and they screamed, my first impulse would be to call 911, check if they were all right and then to punch them in the head for blowing out my eardrum.

I sometimes wonder if the author using the phrase even really knows what to scream means. Think of the last time you, if ever, truly screamed. When I think of screaming, I think of myself at 14 at a Duran Duran concert, what happens when you ride a rollercoaster, or the sound people make in terror. It's not a sexy sound, and it's really quite loud, and whenever I read it, I'm IMEDIATELY snapped out of the sex scene.

I think it just goes back to what you've been saying - there are so many ways to describe something, and I think screaming is one, especially in any erotic genre, that has been misused.

Thank you for letting me rant. That particular use of scream has become a pet peeve of mine. =)

Jul. 18th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Jumping in late here
I don't think I've ever seen this. I read more mainstream fic than small epub stuff, though.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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