Tips for Naturist Writers

In general, the best tips for naturist writers are the same as those for any other kind of writer. Many well-known authors have written entire manuals of writing advice, summarized best practices, or written poems about how to write poems, etc., and these are easy to find using Internet search engines. For several such collections of advice compiled by Maria Popova on her excellent site Brain Pickings, click here. But, beyond the rather obvious injunction to write naked!, what tips might be specific to naturist writers?

Allegedly a photo of J.D. Salinger

I’ve conducted interviews over the years with fellow naturist writers, and these exchanges are collected on my Nude Scribe site under the title Disrobing Suspense. It’s an ongoing project – there are many more writers to interview! What I propose to do here, for now, is revisit some of the main points from these interviews that have to do with writing naturist fiction. These points are probably just as useful to writers of naturist memoir, or to writers of fiction in which many characters are naked, as they are to those of us who use the label “naturist fiction.” So here are ten tips collectively from writers Cor van de Sande, Stephen Crowley, Tom Pine, Nick Alimonos, Robert Longpré, P. Z. Walker, and yours truly.

  1. Vary locales. Naturist resorts and nude beaches are fine settings, and certainly apropos, but there is no reason for naturist fiction to be exclusive to those places.
  2. Keep things realistic for the lead-in to a naturist epiphany. A character’s first-time experience of disrobing can be important, but it does not always have to be a sudden, overwhelming ah-hah moment.
  3. Following from #2 above, a first-time disrobing does not need to be the climax or main point. It may be crucial for one or more characters’ trajectories, but not necessarily for the overall plot.
  4. It’s unhelpful to refer constantly to characters’ nudity. If you set the nude context clearly, your reader will remember that the characters are naked.
  5. When it’s necessary to refer to body parts, use appropriate, respectful terminology. Exceptions would be dialogue in the voice of an uninformed / not-yet-naturist character. (See post “Naming our Nudity.”)
  6. Without overdoing it, emphasize how our bodies move, feel, and have different sensations when nude. In some narrative contexts, nudity can become something like a superpower, or lead to special powers.
  7. Along the same lines, it’s helpful to highlight not just the physical sensations of nudity, but also the spiritual and emotional states that can be caused or intensified by nudity, nudity in nature, or social nudism.
  8. Imagine you are writing not only for naturists, who want to see social nudism treated as the normal thing it is, but also for not-yet naturists who need to be able to conceptualize nudity as normal.
  9. Labeling this kind of fiction naturist is great, but you can also label it sci-fi or romance or historical or whatever else it is, because this helps attract readers who may not have been drawn to the naturist label.
  10. Above all, it’s gotta be good writing, or no one will read it – not even folks who want to read naturist fiction.

 “It’s more important to focus on the characters and their other issues and problems rather than only whether they are going to get nude.”    – Stephen Crowley

Allegedly a photo of Will Forest (!)

These ten tips are not rules, although they might seem like it. I can think of outlier cases for just about all of them. But what they do share, maybe as a set of guidelines, is the goal of writing about naturism as a healthy lifestyle that affords some marvelous possibilities. Since naturism does not get represented very well, nor very often, in mainstream literature, readers who are already naturists enjoy naturist fiction for portraying our way of life in a positive light. Not-yet naturist readers get a chance to open their minds to just how naturism can work, both in everyday practice and, in some of the fictional contexts, fantastical settings.

In the end, these are just a few ideas shared by some writers talking about their craft, for the possible benefit of other writers. If you’re a naturist writer, I hope they are helpful to you.

 

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