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Changing Styles

Changing Styles
By Sascha Illyvich

Have you ever started to write a novel and before you knew it you’d stopped and begun to analyze your style? Or found that somewhere in the first few drafts that your voice has changed? Or even the place your writing comes from?

I have. Let me give you an example to illustrate my point.

Back in 2008 I cranked out a 100k novel for Loose ID as I heard they were making noise that they wanted to see work from me. Being a fan of Treva Harte, I figured I’d give them something hard, dark and angry. Like most of the stories I write, this one had plenty of bondage, kinky sex, domination and a hot wolf hero paired with a submissive female faery in a new world. The World I’d created of the Unseelie Kingdom was harsh, cold and very cyberpunk, I was also trying to emulate my mentor at the time since she’d just finished sold and published a steam punk romance. The music I listened to was harsh, dark, brutal in a lot of cases. Bands like Nile, (technical Death Metal) Combichrist (agro-tek electronica) and Arch Enemy were in heavy rotation on the playlist. In short, if it was heavy and hard, it was probably on the playlist and I wasn’t talking about anything pop sounding or pussified.

I finished the novel and let it sit due to deadlines on other projects such as the story I started for Total E-bound. In the same fashion, I wrote a story aimed at one of my very close friends with the intention of making it also a BDSM story and crafting a character who was a badass Domme. This novel was “supposed” to be harsh and include plenty of bondage and whip fun. Also it would have a theme for Total E-bound’s Ghost of Christmas Future series. Oh and it would also be a brutal story.

In the month between these two stories, I had a few personal breakthroughs courtesy of another dear and beloved friend that made me feel…more at peace with a lot of my personal issues.

So what became of the Total E-bound project was NOT angry, brutal and dark. The kink was mental, the issues were real and the beta readers who loved the first story I mentioned also loved the second one and said that I wrote from a lighter place that showcased my deep love for said person.

I freaked. I went back to try to edit in some kink, thinking there HAD to be some places where I could throw in darker themes but I write so tightly that when I finish a story, it’s done. I then realized my problem.

I could no longer write from that deep, dark place of anger and aggression because I no longer felt that way. Had I let all of those emotions loose in the first story? Or had personal events changed my style to help me grow?

I don’t actually know but thought this could make for an interesting blog post for Lisabet Sarai, an author I’ve admired for years. It was a scary thing for me to realize that I could NO LONGER write from that place. Sure I could (and have written) come from that dark place again to craft stories that raise the hair on your neck, but my inspiration was different and so was the end result. The stories have more punch and emotion, and in romance, isn’t that what we want?

Sascha Illyvich – Defining Erotica. A blog for authors of All Genres


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Sascha,

I know one thing - you can't force a story into a style that doesn't fit. You can try, but the story will come out deader than a doornail.

I rarely make conscious decisions about style issues. The story tells me what to do.


P.S. Thanks for the plug

widdershins said...

Interesting process Sascha.
Going back and reading our older stuff, when we've gone through personal changes is quite a challenge all in itself!
Good on you for being true to your Self and writing from this new place rather than trying to recapture the comfortable.

Daisy Harris said...

Great post, Sascha!

I tried to buck my natural tendencies and write in a dark heavy style this past fall. "Total failure" may be a strong word for what happened, but let's just say it wasn't my best work.

The experience made me realize light and funny is my thing. At least for now. In RL I process emotions better though joking and making light of things. It stands to reason I'd write better that way too!

I liked your old stuff, but I like the new too. Good fiction involves change- so unless we're growing as people, our work is gonna lack dynamism.

(See, I sound like a dufus when I try to be serious.)

Cheers, D

Rawiya said...

Hi Sascha. Great post!

I think I have always done nice, sensual, emotional erotica. I wonder if I will be able to change to do the bondage tale I have on the docket...hmm

Time will tell! ;D