Saturday 18 May 2013

Review: Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet

  Time for another review! This time around it's a non-fiction craft book by Stacia Kane all about how to write sizzling, fleshed-out, meaningful sex scenes.

  The first thing to note about Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet is that it's an adaptation of a series of articles originally posted by the author on her blog, and the format very much reflects its original incarnation. Chapters are relatively short, conversational in tone, and easily consumed in one sitting. This, for me, was one of the things I really appreciated about this book. It's not a deep and thoroughly complex analysis of sex in fiction, it's not a stuffy and strict set of guidelines on how to write erotica; it's one author sharing her experience in straightforward, practical, bitesize chunks. I very often found myself reading a chapter of this book a day over breakfast before sitting down to get started with my own writing. It was a fantastic way to digest a few tips and tricks while also getting me in the mood to push on with my own work, and I was sorry to wake up one day with no more chapters left to spur me on.

  Kane covers a broad range of subjects in Sex-Writing Strumpet, from dissecting the purpose and meaning of a good sex scene, to picking the right words and phrases to arouse your readers, to overcoming the embarrassment of starting to write sex in the first place. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that anything the author covers in this book is revolutionary or ground-breaking advice; if you've studied the basic mechanics of storytelling before then a lot of what she discusses will be familiar to you. Sex scenes do, ultimately, follow the same basic set of rules as any other good scene in a novel. However, the great strength of Sex-Writing Strumpet is that it consolidates and crystallises this advice into a series of very specific, very easily applicable examples, even going so far as to include little writing challenges for aspiring erotic authors to tackle at the end of each chapter. While Kane may not break new ground with her approach to writing sex scenes, that isn't the point of her book. Like any good teacher, she collates everything she has learned as an author, distils it down to its most concise and useful elements, and presents it in a way that is easy for her audience to digest.

  If there was one critique I could make of the book it would be that some of Kane's example passages do tend to take up a lot of page space. While many of these passages are useful in illustrating her topics of discussion, I did notice they had a tendency to cut into the word count of certain chapters, leaving them a little light on the analysis and a little heavy on the excerpts. I feel as though someone familiar with the author's work would get more out of these examples than a newcomer like me, but given the origin of these chapters as blog posts on Kane's website, it's understandable why they'd be tailored to fans of her writing.

  Overall though, Sex-Writing Strumpet gave me exactly what I was looking for out of a book like this. Kane's advice is straightforward, pragmatic, conversational—and often very funny! This feels like a book written by someone who is thoroughly passionate about their craft, with a genuine desire to share their experience with others. It's well written, useful, insightful, and very entertaining for anyone who has a passion for looking deeper into the anatomy of erotic literature.
  I'd give this book an enthusiastic Awesome-Out-Of-Ten!

  Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet is available to purchase in paperback or as an ebook on Amazon, or for various formats across other retailers.

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