This month’s IWSG asks about passages you’ve decided to include, or not, in your books. One passage sprang to mind immediately. More of that later.

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This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

To Include or not?

Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

There have been several instances over the last ten years where I’ve felt strongly about something and wanted to write about it, to let my feelings out, to shout about perceived injustices from the rooftops. Most of the time I managed to calm down and write it in a different way. Nobody likes a writer who rants about something, especially something relatively trivial (or would be to most people). Sometimes I’ve managed to build it into a story–using an injustice, for example, as something the protagonist has to sort out.

I’m in the middle of one of those now. I’m plotting, just like that joke on social media that runs something like “I’m an author; if you upset me, I’ll put you in my book and kill you.” I’m also checking my facts, and researching further. It could turn into a short story, or even end up in a novel–or be the central core of one, except that it would be rather off-genre for me.

… so not include

I might just write it to let it out of my system. I’ve discovered; it just helps to let it out. And when you look at it on paper (screen) later, you realise, yes, it’s just life, and not worth bothering about.

On the other hand…

There’s the passage that sprang to mind, the one I mentioned in the first line.

I tend to allow my characters to determine what happens next. And in Curved Space to Corsair (Viridian System 2), they went through a wormhole by mistake, got lost in space on the other side, without even any star charts to guide them back. At some stage of this traumatic event, the girls decided that sex was off the agenda. Lars and Pete have a discussion about it, saying how much comfort it would give them, but how can they persuade them – and decide they can’t. Until the girls decide, well… um, it turned into an orgy on the page! I was quite surprised. I didn’t know I could write that! It was a bit raunchy for my books. Almost in need of an ‘adult’ tag. I decided to let my editor come across it and see what she said.

“That was a surprise!” Should I leave it in? Lots of debate, but I did, and bumped up some of the other interactions so it didn’t seem quite so ‘alone’ in the book.

And at those fairs I’ve been doing*, I warn people of the raunchy bits. Several women said they love raunchy bits–and bought it!

Another Question

ZR virtual book tour puyb
Check the itinerary from my 15th Feb post

Have you seen any of the interviews and revelations I’ve been making on my blog tour – and outside it? It continues until 15th March.

Check out:

*Those Book Fairs

I’m doing my next book fair on 26th March at Lymington, in Hampshire (UK).

But the base price of paperbacks has gone up so much (50-100%) over the winter, I doubt whether I’ll do more after the summer (after the programme committed so far), as the cost of restocking is prohibitive. I discover I’m a hobbyist, after all 🙁

To Include or Not? | #IWSG
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29 thoughts on “To Include or Not? | #IWSG

  • 2 March, 2022 at 11:06 am

    I love a bite in my books also. I don’t like stories that dance around the obvious.
    I think i’ll read this book.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    • 2 March, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Thanks, Pat. The raunchy one is Curved Space to Corsair. And Read an Ebook week is next week on Smashwords…

  • 2 March, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    It’s fun when your characters surprise you and take your story in a direction you didn’t plan. Mine has too at times, especially when I try different things based on critique partners’ advice. Hope your blog tour is going well.

    • 2 March, 2022 at 12:13 pm

      I’ll probably review the tour next IWSG 🙂
      And trying things critique partners have suggested – isn’t that the greatest? I love critique partners (most of the time!)

  • 2 March, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Jemima – well that must have been a surprise – yet a useful learning experience … congratulations. Good luck – cheers Hilary

    • 2 March, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      Yes, it was! I remember getting up from the computer and wandering around the house, surprised (and almost shocked) with myself!

  • 2 March, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Write it and see what happens.
    That is a huge price increase.
    Your book is next in my queue!

    • 2 March, 2022 at 4:56 pm

      I think it’s to do with the price of paper, plus my oldest books were on a much lower cost model. The first in the Princelings series doubled its base price – hence the 100% increase. I did spot the cost of books in stores generally had increased – the £8.99s were now £10.99 – but I couldn’t put Zanzibar’s Rings out below £12.99, which is a big price in my eyes. The others in that series have had to go to that, too. (£10 to £13). I don’t think they’re outside the genre price levels though.
      Fingers crossed you enjoy ZR!

  • 2 March, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    My stories usually take off on another tangent, a journey of their own. I identify with that.

    • 2 March, 2022 at 4:57 pm

      Yes – I call it character-wrangling 🙂

    • 5 March, 2022 at 11:18 am

      Hi Jemima I agree some sex has to included I mean it often goes with the flow of the story. 💜

  • 2 March, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    It’s funny how many times the phrase “That’s obvious, leave it out” comes up in my critique group’s discussions. I like it when my story takes on a life of its own and I just follow!

    • 2 March, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      I used to get that in my team critiques of research papers, although I had to explain my diagrams more in text. So I guess I get more “why?’ in my fiction critique feedback!

  • 2 March, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    I can’t say my characters have ever surprised me with an orgy! LOL I’m glad you went with it and didn’t shy away from writing it.

    • 2 March, 2022 at 5:00 pm

      I’m just wondering if some of those readers are expecting more in future! lol
      One SFF writer who started around the same time as me had a brush with the ‘too romantic’ crowd and then did her more ‘romantic’ (and definitely raunchy) SF under another name.

  • 2 March, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    My surprises tend to come in the form of a turn to the dark side of human nature. I don’t like to read it, so am surprised when I find myself writing it—and I don’t usually let it in.

    • 2 March, 2022 at 5:01 pm

      Well, I’ve not seen it in your drafts… but it’s good that you can let it out…and make it stay out 😉

  • 2 March, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    I’m kind of loving the idea of a spontaneous orgy 🙂 It feels like something that could happen in the circumstances you describe, so why not? Sex can often be a response to stress and existential fear.

    • 2 March, 2022 at 11:14 pm

      Yes, that’s exactly how it came about!
      Thanks for co-hosting today.

  • 3 March, 2022 at 2:06 am

    Sometimes, I channel my negative emotions through my fiction too. It definitely helps.
    Your book descriptions with all those sex musings and actions sounds engrossing. Racy? Well, why not?

    • 3 March, 2022 at 6:59 am

      It seems more common than I imagined. Thanks, Olga.

  • 3 March, 2022 at 2:33 am

    I didn’t know about the raunchy bits! Now I’m even more ready to get to the second book. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes writes to get things out. I once wrote a guide on how to be a terrible daughter-in-law. I doubt that will ever see the light of day…

    • 3 March, 2022 at 7:01 am

      I doubt you had first-hand experience of that. Although yes, I imagine many MILs make you think so. Perhaps a novel, later?

  • 3 March, 2022 at 4:32 am

    Congratulations on your book coming out.
    Yeah, sometimes just writing about something can work it out of your system.
    Sorry the bookfairs aren’t working out.
    Hope you’re having a great day! My latest blog post has my theme for the April #AtoZChallenge (I’m writing speculative fiction and looking for prompts).
    At Operation Awesome we have the #PassOrPages query contest going on (friends or enemies to lovers Romance).
    Looks like I’ll be very busy the next few weeks!
    March quote: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

    • 3 March, 2022 at 7:04 am

      You’re so busy, J. My guinea pigs are revealing their theme on Monday. I think they’re currently stuck on what to write for D. I would suggest Disagreements, but that wouldn’t fit their theme!

  • 4 March, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Ah, there are raunchy bits :). I consider myself fairly warned lol !

    • 4 March, 2022 at 12:15 pm

      But not in Zanzibar’s Rings, sadly. There is an inference of violence, though.

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