Take the Kid Gloves Off

One of my beta readers said this to me a few weeks ago, and it’s amazing the impact those five little words have had. She was absolutely one hundred percent right.

As a writer, there are times I’ve looked at a scene and really wanted to get to the rotten core of it, and yet in the back of my mind I’m always thinking: is this really how I want to portray what goes through my twisted mind?

The truth is, the answer was no. I started to see reviews in those few lines, strangers picking apart the inner workings of what I was writing and pinning them on me like sticker labels. So I backed away without realizing it was happening and just highlighted the illusion of something happening.

I was telling a story, not showing the reality.

Yet, when these five words finally hit me across the cheek, you might say I woke up. Stories need the dirty bits, the rotten flesh hanging off the carcass laying out in the middle of the desert for all to see and smell. Adult books need to be adulty… not censored as a family adventure. If there’s sex, have good sex. If there’s gore, make it bloody. If you need to thrill… make the readers feel that tension gripping them.

I read an article by Jessica Faust a few months ago at Book Ends Literary that said (and I’m paraphrasing here): if you’re going to do something, don’t rush it. Take the time to do it right. This applies to so many things, but especially our manuscripts. If a story has adult content, make it for adults. We can handle it, and in fact as readers we thrive on getting our boundaries pushed a little.

I currently have a polished manuscript that’s already been queried a few places. While I thought it was all shiny and ready to go, it was these five words that really kicked me in the head and said: nope, not quite there yet. So once again I’m running back through the lines and a) getting a little dirtier, b) taking the time to do it right, and c) yep, taking the kid gloves off. My characters are adults, they HAVE to act like it. There is sex… so it should be good sex. There’s bloodshed, and turmoil. And there are agendas. Every character has their own agenda, and man do they clash.

So to anyone in the universe who actually finds this place, and is writing their own story. My advice is this: take the kid gloves off. Get dirty. Write those action/tension scenes right down to the nitty gritty till your characters are naked, vulnerable and exposed. Then kick them right in the balls. Well, unless you’re writing children’s stories. Rainbow department is way on the other side of the room, far far away, nowhere near my characters. They don’t deserve it. ^^