Tag: Short Stories

Where to Start the Story

One of the trickiest parts of a story is knowing which slice of an infinite series of interrelated events (i.e., the Universe) to look at. You can’t start at the beginning (i.e., The Big Bang), unless the nature of your story is tied to the beginning. Similar case with starting at the other end of things. Most likely whatever story you want to tell can be narrowed down to somewhere within the tiny slice of time that encompasses a single person’s life.

The length of the work you’re trying to create matters here, because IF you’re trying to create a work that spans an entire person’s life, then you really don’t have any more decisions in this regard. Start with their birth, end with their death. Fini.

On the other hand, if you’re trying for a specific word count, that will narrow your search for the start of the story considerably. Even the best writers can only convey so much information in a certain word count, and the lower your word count needs to be, the more precise you’ll have to be when picking your beginning.

Let us say in this case, that you’re writing for submission, and you’re trying for a story that is 3,000 Words or less. That’s pretty limited, depending on what kind of story you’re trying to tell, and what kind of characters you plan to use.

One mistake that many authors make is trying to start their story on a perfectly average day, to let the readers know how things normally are, then to move on to more interesting things from there. Don’t do that. Your readers already know what an average day is–they’ve had quite a few of them themselves.

Start where things get interesting. That way, you’ll have your reader’s interest right off the bat. With a limited word count, you need to get through things quickly, which means rushing through parts of the overall story, while zooming in closely on others. You want to rush through the boring bits, and zoom in on the good bits.

With erotica, that typically means glossing over the character’s entire life and background, and focusing on a single encounter. With horror, it’s basically the same deal. None of the details of the character’s life are worth focusing on, unless they make the story move forward.

It doesn’t matter that your main character’s name is George S. Klein. It doesn’t really matter where he lives, unless the setting is unique enough to warrant a significant fraction of your tiny (3k is succinct, in my  view) word count. If it’s necessary to mention that he was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, then mention it, like I just did. Then move on, as I’m doing.

Most writing advice is telling you to “Show, Don’t Tell,” and that’s good advice except when it isn’t. Sometimes, especially when constrained by word count, it’s better to just tell the readers some stuff, to sum up.

Here’s the start of my story “Past The Bullshit”:

“If we could just cut through all the usual bullshit, and you’d just let me put this in you,” he indicated the thick bulge in his pants. “Well, then you’d know.”

“I’d know what?” She was mildly amused by the man so far, and she sipped her drink to facilitate that feeling.

He shook his head. “There’s only one way to find out.”

It was the wrong line, to the wrong girl, on the wrong crappy night, but somehow, less than an hour later, she was in his hotel room, on his bed, her skirt pushed up to her hips as she let him lick her into readiness.

I could have introduced both characters, and I could have written a dozen pages or an entire book on how and why they ran into each other in that bar, but none of that mattered for the story. All that matters for the story is that this strange man gives this woman a strange and crude line, and against her better judgment it works. Then the action takes place, then the resolution of both the introduction and the action.

All in <775 words, in this case.

Here’s the start of my 2500+ word story The Octopunishment:
Bridget Walsh brushed aside tentacle after sagging tentacle. They were dormant for a time, and this was her only chance to escape. She’d had such chances before, but needless to say, she was still here. Naked and dripping, she climbed up onto the thick layer of rubbery flesh, escaping the sea for a time. She was on the skirt of Kýrios Chtapódi, the Lord Octopus. In order to escape, she had to climb all the way up its enormous body, all the way to the head, which rose like a mountain into the sky.

It isn’t fair. The thought nagged at her once again, but as before, it never did her any good. Yes, it wasn’t fair. Why should it be? Everybody knew that life wasn’t fair; why should afterlife be any different?

I could have started the story chronologically, and taken my time. Under different circumstances, if I needed to pad the word count or flesh out the story more, I would have. I could have started off at the point her life took a fatal turn, the day that Zeus showed up in disguise to the game show she was hosting. I’d have had the opening bit be about her thinking that this one of her guests was weird. I’d have had her insult him (part of her routine), and I’d have shown the man transforming into an angry Greek god who kills her with a thunderbolt. I’d have shown her arrival in the particular Underworld that the king of gods condemned her to.

But the project didn’t call for all that–I wasn’t trying to write a novel. I could have, with this story, and that’s the problem. You have to know what story to tell, which moments are important. In this story, the important moment is a decision that Bridget makes when she reaches the summit of Kýrios Chtapódi, and she has a chance to escape. The character is on a specific journey in this story, a specific challenge, and I started the story where the challenge begins.

Everything else that the readers needed to know, how Bridget ended up where she was, the details of her kinky torture at the hands of the Lord Octopus, and everything else that was necessary for the story, I told in flashbacks here or there as she climbs up the side of this mountainous creature.

Start where things get interesting. You can always backfill details later.

Hobbies, Skills, and Passions

I’ve talked in other posts, I believe, about one of the useful elements in becoming a good or great writer being a fluency in the language of writing. The faster and cleaner you can translate what’s in your mind into what’s on the page, the easier the entire process of writing will be. On a good day, at the right time or times, you’ll be able to write as fast as you can type. If you’re a good typist, you’ll be able to write almost as fast as you can think.

At this point, one of the big bottlenecks will be what your mental speed limit is: how fast you can make story-creating decisions that fit the characters you’re working with, and that advance the plot in the right direction. As with everything else in writing, this takes practice to get really good at.

Luckily for me, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life playing Dungeons & Dragons.

More specifically, I’ve spent a huge portion of my life as a D&D Dungeonmaster (as opposed to the BDSM kind of Dungeonmaster), running games for all kinds of different players. I credit this particular hobby with a lot of my ability to come up with plots on the fly, as well as my ability to create fictional characters quickly, and my ability to envision the decisions those characters might make. All of those things are skills that one needs to varying degrees when running a tabletop role-playing game.

As with writing fiction, a Dungeonmaster (DM) tries to create or direct a narrative, to tell (with the aid of his players) a kind of story. The Dungeonmaster lays out a general plot, with a beginning, middle, and (assuming not everybody dies along the way) an ending. As with writing, any or all of this outline is routinely threatened by the often unpredictable actions of the characters involved. While the DM has full control over where the story starts, he/she does not fully control how or where the story ends, nor what happens along the way.

This is because the characters make their own decisions. Which often seems to happen when one is writing fiction, particularly fiction of any significant length.

A DM might start the story off in a tavern, intending the characters to roleplay a quiet meal getting acquainted with one another, planning the next day’s journey to the castle or dungeon where the object of their mutual quest lies. The players might choose to pick a fight, either with strangers at the tavern or with each other, and the evening might end with any number of dead bodies, and burning tavern.

The DM’s job is to adapt, to get the story back on track, but also to include the consequences of this event into the overall narrative. Surviving party members will likely be on the run now, to avoid angry mobs and law enforcement, which can be used to increase their incentive to achieve whatever their original goal was, as well as to provide additional possible obstacles that might add to the story.

It’s not so different when writing, sometimes. A writer might think they know where a scene is going, but by the time they’re done writing it, they have to re-adjust their entire outline to account for unpredicted outcomes. This is likely to happen more than once, in a longer story.

This can be frustrating as a Dungeonmaster, so most DMs try to predict ahead of time how and why scenes might go wrong, and to come up with ways of reducing the odds of disaster or major derailment. Instead of starting the scene in the main room of the tavern, for example, the DM might start the scene in a private room, where there are fewer distractions from the DM’s goal with the scene. It’s hard to start a fight with non-player characters (NPCs) when there aren’t any in the room/scene.

The party can fight amongst themselves, but this can be countered by making sure that each of the main characters, the Player Characters (PCs) have compatible backstories that can be used to avoid disastrous in-fighting. Four complete strangers are more likely to pick deadly fights with one another than a group of four people composed of two brothers, one brother’s love interest, and that love interest’s long-time friend who happens to have helped the other brother out of a serious jam on at least one occasion. It also helps if the characters have compatible personalities and overall motivations. That way, if things start to go off course, the DM can guide them back on course by reminding the PCs of their close ties and their mutual goals.

Storytelling is storytelling, and a lot of the skills that one can develop in table-top role-playing games can translate into other forms of storytelling, such as writing. It’s not the only way to develop useful skills, and it’s not even necessarily the best way to do so. It is one of the ways that’s worked for me, and I’ve heard other authors make similar claims.

Then again, writers tend to use their own experiences, and whatever a writers’ experiences are, I’ve heard them claim that those experiences have helped shape and guide their writing.

If you’ve never tried running or playing in a tabletop RPG, but you’re looking for fun hobbies that might help you with your writing, I recommend joining or starting a game sometime. If you have played or run tabletop RPGs, I recommend actively thinking about lessons that you can learn from your RPG experiences that will translate into writing skills, and vice-versa. It’s always nice when our hobbies can sharpen our skills for our passions.

So You Have An Idea…

Disclaimer: This blog post contains spoilers for my short story “Multiple O,” as I break down how I turned my starting Idea into an actual plot.

So you have an Idea. You’ve got some kind of notion that could make for a good story. What’s next?

That depends on the writer and the idea. A lot of the time, for a good writer, having an Idea is enough. In previous years, I succeeded in my May Challenges by becoming skilled at taking an Idea, and being able to turn it into an acceptable short story just by sitting down at the keyboard and typing by the seat of my pants.

Pantsing works well for a lot of writers, and it works well for me most of the time. When I wrote “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus,” all I had in mind was the title, along with the notion that I’d have human/dinosaur sex be consensual instead of the standard rape fantasy scenario. With “An Innocent Haircut,” I just had the setup in mind–a young man is seduced by the woman who’s cutting his hair–and the inspiration to try to write the story about a male losing his virginity as detailed as possible, to try to craft it in such a way that males who hadn’t lost their virginity (and females who hadn’t been male) would be able to live the experience vicariously through my words. Both of those stories turned out very well, still some of my best work, and they were pantsed.

Then there are those other times.

My story “Multiple O” is set in my Serpent’s Gifts setting, a world where the appearance of a giant snake in the sky grants various people comic-book-style super-powers. I’m a big comic fan, and there are certain powers that are staples for superheroes (or villains) and that also lend themselves well to erotics. One of those powers is the ability to make instant copies of yourself, along the lines of The Multiple Man, Silent Majority, Triplicate Girl, or Multiplex.

That was my Idea: write erotica about somebody with that kind of self-duplicating power.

But it needed refinement, because “One day, a person with duplication powers did some sexy stuff” isn’t a good story. It’s not even good micro-fiction.

Once you have your Idea, I find that it’s pretty good to start working through the Five Ws of Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. My Who in this case is my main character, my protagonist. I toyed with making a male character named “Gangbang,” and having him multiply in the middle of sex with a woman who was open enough to roll with suddenly having sex with two or twenty guys instead of just one, but my personal tastes go the other way, and I decided that I’d rather write about a woman who could turn into multiple women. So that’s my basic Who–the protagonist is female. I came up with the title of “Multple O,” and went with the first female name that sprung to mind that started with O: Olivia.

The Ws don’t have to be in order, and often the Idea itself will fill in at least part of one of them anyway. If I’d been doing them in order, I’d have focused on “What” next, but I didn’t. Instead, I focused on that sixth important question, that honorary W just because it hangs out with them so much. I asked myself How.

Specifically, I asked myself how her power functioned. Multiple Man produces copies from kinetic impact. Other characters seem to be able to do it at will. I think one character could pull alternate-reality versions of himself/herself, or maybe I just dreamed that. I needed a mechanism for my character’s power to work. Where did the copies come from?

I mulled this over for a couple days, I think.

A lot of the time, shaping and refining the Idea is mental work that I do while I’m on a long drive, or trying to beat my insomnia into submission by letting my mind wander, and so forth. Eventually, I hit on the idea of her power being the ability to pull her own image out of mirrors, into the real world. That gave her a vulnerability (her power only works when there’s a reflection nearby), it gave her a limitation (only one copy per mirror), and it gave me a start to the story: a woman is looking at herself in the mirror, when suddenly she pulls her own reflection out into the real world.

As soon as I had the How, the rest of the Ws all fell into place.
Who? Olivia and a single copy of herself.
What? A solo scene that turns into girl/girl fun.
When? Sometime shortly after December of 2012, because that’s when this setting splits off from the real world–That’s when the powers start manifesting.

Where? In the bedroom, on the bed.

Why? Because Olivia was trying to do the female empowerment thing of looking at her own vagina in the mirror, to get in better touch with herself and her body, but when she drops the mirror and tries to pick it back up again, she accidentally grabs her mirror self and pulls it into the real world. Once she adjusts to this new event, the two of her go back to doing what she was doing moments before: getting better in touch with her own body (or, in this case, bodies).

I asked myself if this story would work, and the first snag I hit upon was the issue of whether or not a person who was confronted by a doppleganger of themselves would try to have sex with it so quickly. I went back to thinking about How the power worked, and decided that since the copy was in fact a different version of the main character, that Olivia would be perfectly comfortable with her mirror-clone–it was her , after all.

This wasn’t two strangers–it was two of the same person, and they’d known themselves for their entire lives. You can’t get much more intimate than that; the sex is just a formality. It’s more like masturbation with access to a second body. Which fell nicely into the general themes of the story–a woman who is uncomfortable with herself gets to lover herself a bit more.

That’s the kind of thing that many writers tend to leave out of short erotica, by the way. They come up with characters, a plot, and a sex scene, but they leave their story at that. That’s a mistake, because stories have to be about something important. Yes, sure, sex itself is important, but not always in its own right. Creating a story about two bodies fucking is like creating a story about two people eating a meal together–if that’s all that happens, don’t bother writing it.

The meal, or the sex, or the walk through the park, or the fight in the alleyway… it has to mean something to somebody. It has to be important enough that the story is worth telling, and the reader knows it. In this case, the main character grows to accept herself a bit more. Yes, she has her first lesbian experience (kind of), and she discovers that she has superpowers, but while both of those events are exciting, a really good story needs an extra layer of significance to make it really shine.

The story “Multiple O” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Multiple-Richa…

Jagermeister Night

April 16, 2014

It’s Jagermeister Night at House Bacula, and it’s a pretty good night.
It should also be a short night, at this rate.
I found this blog, though, and figured that I’d put something here, if only to surprise myself in the morning, or whenever I find it.

In general, if anybody has any good suggestions what exactly I can use this blog FOR, feel free to let me know!
I’m not really a blogger by nature.
I do tend to answer questions, though, so if anybody out there has any questions for me, about anything, by all means just ask me.

Meanwhile, I’ll give a bit of my background.

I’ve been interested in sex since I was a little kid, and I took every opportunity to explore the weird world of sexuality. Oddly enough, this did NOT include playing “Doctor” with other kids, or anything like that.

I’ve also always been a big reader. For the most part, I read about sex.

I’d find the medical books in school, and look at the naughty bits. I’d read up on all the naughty words in the dictionary and the encyclopedias.

I’d sit in the grocery store when my parents weren’t looking, and browse through any unsealed dirty magazines that I could find. When magazines weren’t available, I’d find romance and horror novels, and skip around until I found the sex scenes there.
I learned a lot.

As I got a bit older, high school age, I had read the Kama Sutra, all kinds of dirty magazines, had watched a lot of dirty videos, had read “The Joy of Sex,”
“Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex
(but were afraid to ask),” and multiple other books that were specifically about sex.
I read other stuff too, of course, but the early interest in and information about sex stuck with me, and it eventually spurred me to write erotica.

There’s a lot of erotica out there already, and most of it really isn’t very good.
My goal as a writer is to try to raise the bar a bit, to provide more accurate, more detailed erotica that delves deeper into the motions and emotions of the participants.

Because I’m writing about sex, the sex tends to take up most of the text in each of my stories.

While many people do enjoy a long, slow, lingering, tedious build-up before the sex happens, that’s not the kind of thing that I enjoy in my reading, so that’s not what I write.
My stories tend to start off with the action, in media res, with character depth and plot demonstrated during the scene, with the occasional explanatory flashback.

I write some unusual erotica. I’ve written one story with a female werewolf, one story with a stegosaurus, and one story with a scarecrow.

All of them are good.

Part of my interest in writing that kind of story is the challenge of writing them well, given their rather absurd premises.

Other stuff is more vanilla. Just male/female stuff, or male/female/female stuff, or female/female stuff.

Despite a healthy level of personal sexual experience, there are limits to what I have done. I have not had sex with a stegosaurus, nor as a stegosaurus, for example.

Nor have I ever been a lesbian engaged in sex with another woman.

In these cases, I try to research as much as I need to in order to maintain the integrity of the scene, in order to get the details as correct as possible, or as possible as the story requires.

I’m not a hobby writer, by the way. I’m writing to make money, with full intent of making enough money to quit my day job(s) and to write full time.

Every copy of my work that is sold helps me toward that goal, and every little bit of word-of-mouth helps me get more potential sales.

Not to mention reviews!

If you read my works (and I suggest that you do: they’re reasonably priced), and you enjoy what I have written, I urge you to help spread the word.

It’s not necessarily my best work, but this free short erotic story should give you an idea of what I’m capable of:
http://www.literotica.com/s/cornholed

How to Be as Sexy as a Dead Deer

Written May 6, 2014

I’m pretty sure that most people would agree that deer aren’t particularly sexy. “Pretty,” probably. “Beautiful,” maybe, in the way that nature and animals can be beautiful, but not “sexy.”

Likewise, it’s only a certain kind of twisted person who thinks that death is sexy. It’s not- it’s tragic and ugly, even with animals. Sometimes more so with animals than humans, actually, which is why pretty much everybody hates a scene where a dog dies, but they’re often indifferent to scenes where a human dies.

In their song “Hunter’s Kiss,” Rasputina creates a little story about a hunter killing a deer. It’s sexy. It’s also horrible. That’s one of the things that makes the song stick in my mind, that makes it haunt me. It is both horrible and sexy.

I actually find the song more arousing than a lot of erotica I’ve read. It’s not that the song is THAT sexy… it’s that one hell of a lot of erotica is THAT bad.

A lot of writers can somehow manage to take the most arousing sexual acts and experiences, and turn them into something flat, un-interesting, or even outright painful to read about. They can start with all the right ingredients, and they can fuck up the recipe so badly that it’s effectively inedible.

Rasputina does the opposite. They go take a piece of metaphorical roadkill, and turn it into a darned fine meal.

How the hell do they manage to do that? Let’s find out.
Follow the link and listen to the song, if you haven’t done so already.
Click here to read the lyrics.

Are you with me?

They tell you right off the bat that it’s a sad story. The deer’s death doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. So they lessen the shock of the death; you already know it’s coming. It’s been foreshadowed. Readers like twist endings… sometimes. Other times, especially with short erotic stories, a twist breaks them out of the mood that you’re trying to sex, I mean “trying to set.” (That was an honest typo, but I’m leaving it there for the ghost of Sigmund Freud.)

You want readers to be aroused when they’re reading your erotica or sex scene, and clouding things up with other emotions only dilutes the elixer that you’re trying to create. If the reader laughs, or cries, or lets out a startled gasp of the wrong kind of shock, then their arousal—the emotion that you’re trying to stimulate most—gets broken. Rasputina knows this. So they start diluting the negative emotions associated with a dying deer, beginning by bracing the audience to understand ahead of time that, yes, this is a sad story. Any sadness, that way, will not come as a real shock.

This is also something of a magician’s trick. While they’re telling you on one hand that the story is sad, they’re secretly using the other hand to turn you on. (At least, that’s how it works for me. Some people, at this point, might very well not know what the hell I’m talking about.) While you’re bracing yourself for sadness, for something Bad, they start giving you something good.

It’s about context, and it’s about expectation. If you expect something Bad (sadness), and in the midst of the Bad you get something Good (arousal), then the Good parts will seem all the better for the contrast, the same way a bit of salt can highlight sweet flavors in food. Rasputina starts off immediately by taking control of your expectations. They make you brace for the Bad, while their other hand prepares to do something Good to you.

Next up, they start adding the Good, the old-fashioned spice of “Romance.” They do this by setting the stage: “A romantic scene, from a lullaby.” So now we know that it’s not necessarily just a tragedy, it might be a tragic romance. They’re foreshadowing more, showing us that other hand, without telling us what it’s going to do to us. We know to expect the bitter, but then we’re set up for a bit of sweetness.

Then, Rasputina sets the point of view: the singer is the deer. The hunter is about to shoot her. We empathize with the deer, because Rasputina has given the deer anthropomorphic thoughts: “Then the fleeting notion, that my life he’d save.” Deer don’t really recognize the danger that a hunter’s bow poses, not as a rule, and certainly not to this depth. Deer don’t have the cognitive ability to think the implied thoughts, along the line of: “Crap! This guy’s pointing an arrow at me, and he can kill me! Maybe I’ll luck out? Maybe he’ll show me mercy?” It gives the reader something to identify with, though, puts us in the deer’s shoes. Well, “hooves,” anyway.

We know it’s sad, and we know that this deer is in jeopardy, and we identify human emotions and intelligence with it. We’re invested now, for bitter or for sweet. Or for bittersweet.

The next stanza serves something of the same purpose of the first line; it gets the Bad out of the way quickly. The deer gets shot, thinks (again, anthropomorphizing the deer creates empathy) for a second that it’d been missed by the arrow, but then discovers that, no, it’s been hit. The deer isn’t dead, but it’s dying and helpless. It also subtly starts moving that other hand again, the hand that slipped the word “romantic” into the mix earlier. This time, it uses the word “Dirty.”

“Dirty” has many connotations and uses in the English language, and while Rasputina is using it accurately on the surface, leaving the deer “lying dirty” as in “on the ground, with some dirt on it,” there are other connotations. “Dirty” also means “Naughty,” as in “Sex is Dirty.” The association between the phrase “sex” and “dirty” is so completely overpowering, that I doubt that any listener fails to somehow make the connection, suddenly and abruptly, with sex. The hand that Rasputina told you to watch is showing you a dead deer. Their other hand is showing you sex, subliminally. Just a quick flash of it, but you’re still getting flashed.

Then we get to the refrain:
I have never, felt like this before.
Felt my body sinking, to the grassy floor.
No I have never, known a love like this,
Felt the flaming arrows, of the hunter’s kiss.

This is where the hands change, where we suddenly realize that while we were watching the hand we were told to, Rasputina has slipped their other hand into our clothing, and it’s that other hand that suddenly gets all of our attention as they start to touch unexpected parts of us. The first line is a classic sentiment of both love and sex, of the romance that was foreshadowed earlier. It’s something that’s been said countless times, in countless ways, in a near infinity of tales of romance and sex.

The refrain is brilliant, because that’s where the bulk of the heavy lifting is done for the storytellers/singers; that’s the part that carries the weight of our sadness off of us in several ways. They’re still singing about a dying deer, but they’re also now clearly singing about love, and about sex. By using classic romantic imagery to describe the dying deer, they create an emotional association between love/sex and a dying deer. It’s actually a kind of pun: they’re using well-known words that typically mean one thing, and they’re using those words to mean something else. They’re playing with words, like when somebody steps in a hole in the ground, and somebody else says “You’re on holey ground,” manipulating homophones to connect a hole in the ground to a phrase associated with churches and places of worship. Even if there isn’t any church or other “holy ground” in sight, the combination of words is going to make the hole-stepper and any nearby listeners suddenly think of churches or other locations that they associate with the key phrase, with the pun. The same way that Rasputina just made us think about a woman lying in the grass, about to have sex with a man that she loves, even though they haven’t shown us anything of the sort in their song.

The second thing that the refrain accomplishes is confusion, at least the first time we hear it. This reduces sadness, because Rasputina just shifted gears from “Aw, poor dead deer!” to “Woman passionately in love!” That’s a pretty big WTF moment, and when people are thinking, “What The Fuck,” they’re no longer thinking, “Aw, poor dead deer!” Even though Rasputina continues to sing about a dying deer, that confusion lets the listener simultaneously see something else: a woman who is powerlessly overwhelmed by love/sex. The dying deer and the woman in love are the same, one image is super-imposed over the other, and it ends up being like one of those pictures where you’re not sure if you’re looking at a young woman or a hag. Or a candlestick or two faces. That confusion lets the listener pick, to some degree, which one they’re thinking of, and that choice allows the listener to listen to a version of the song that they prefer. They can, from this point on, either listen to a song about a woman who has fallen unexpectedly, completely, and powerlessly in love, OR they can listen to a song about a deer that’s being killed by a hunter.

The song is about both, about a deer and a woman, about dying and about falling in love. It’s a metaphor, and I’ve rarely metaphor that I didn’t like, not one as well-crafted as this.

The third thing that this refrain accomplishes is just as important. What is perhaps the only thing that can take the sting of death away from the dying? Wanting to die. The hunter has just shot the deer, and it’s reaction is love. The hunter kills the deer, and the deer likes it, even if it still regrets what is happening. It’s a kind of rape fantasy, where the horribleness of the act being committed is made more palatable to most readers if the victim of the act enjoys it, if the victim’s thoughts of the attacker are filled with love. To other readers, it becomes all the more horrible.

The next line: “My life is not mine, like a dog or a wife.”

Is that a deer, lamenting the loss of it’s actual life? Or a woman lamenting the loss of freedom caused by her overpowering emotions for a man? Or about a deer lamenting the loss of both it’s life and freedom to a man who is killing it?

Yes, I think that it is.

“He has taken his time, he has taken my life.” Again, deer or woman? Is the fact that he’s taking his time foreplay, or ruthlessness? Or both?

In the confusion, we get to choose. Just don’t forget the whole orgasm/death metaphor that has existed for centuries (if not millennia), because that’s another key to this song, especially in the next stanza:
I could see the steaming, of his cloudy breath,
No, I was not dreaming, I was next to [orgasm].
As I lay there twitching, then my legs he tied.
There was nothing missing, on the day I [climaxed for the first time].

That metaphor switches the scene from that of a deer being gutted, to that of a woman being pleasured. Even those listeners who are not already familiar with the tried and true metaphor of orgasm as death, I think that they’ll likely make the connection.

I have used similar techniques in my own writings, albeit less eloquently. In my story “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus,” one of the obvious challenges was the question of how to make a dinosaur’s penis a point of arousal for readers not into bestiality. After all, I write to arouse more than to simply amuse, so my goal is to get the reader turned on, even when writing something absurd. I rose to the challenge adequately, I think. When the heroine, Layla, is wrestling with the enormous appendage, I insert this flashback into the scene:

When she was younger, new into her womanhood, Layla had once sat in the lap of a handsome warrior of her tribe, a man long since gone missing after a Rhino Men raid. They had kissed, their mouths merging, tongues intertwining, and Layla had allowed the man’s firm thigh to part her legs, so that she was straddling his bare leg. That thigh had been thick with muscle, and as Layla and the warrior had kissed and caressed each other, Layla’s intimate flesh was pressed right up against it, with only the thin layer of Layla’s animal skin clothing between them. Layla’s hips had started rocking then, pressing herself against that man’s strength, feeling the power of that thigh, even through her clothing. The sensation of the strength, of the maleness, of the power filling the space between her legs had been overwhelming. Layla had had her woman’s bliss, crying out her pleasure into the man’s eager mouth, just from riding that mass of male muscle.

Now, for those readers not instantly aroused by dinosaur cock, or by my previous descriptions of what a stegosaurus can do with his tongue, I have created a kind of backdoor for them to enjoy the scene anyway. I have given them this little story-within-a-story to enjoy. I have implanted it into their brain for my further use. I then connected that very human sex story with the dinosaur-on-human sex story that I was in the middle of telling:

Layla had always regretted that she had been too modest that day, that she had not simply pushed the crotch of her covering aside, that she hadn’t been able to feel his naked muscles with the bare flesh of her womanhood. She’d never had another chance with that warrior, never known exactly how it would have felt. Now, though, her entire body wrapped around a gigantic cock, Layla felt that she knew.

Now, for those readers for whom my technique worked, suddenly that dinosaur’s penis is also the penis of a handsome, muscular man. At least, when they read about the dinosaur’s anatomy, they’ll have some level of internal connection to the anatomy of a man, as well as to a mini-story that has already aroused the reader.

I use similar techniques in my story “Cornholed,” where a woman has sex with an animate scarecrow whose penis is an ear of decorative dried corn. Once I decided to write a scarecrow story, you see, I had to decide what the scarecrow was going to use instead of a penis. Real-world scarecrows don’t have them, after all; if they did, then they’d scare more than just the crows. I was going for a Halloween theme, so I eventually settled in on the decorative corn idea. It had the right shape, after all, more or less. That left me with the idea of how to make corn-on-the-cob sexy. Not only corn, but dried corn. Dried corn simply isn’t sexy. It’s almost as un-sexy as a dying deer, in fact

Keeping my magician’s hands busy, I described things in such a way that I downplayed the downsides, and I up-played the upsides. I didn’t really mention the “dried” part during the sex scene. The rough surface of the corn would most likely be painful in real life, but I decided to spin it. Don’t think “rough,” think “ribbed”:

The scarecrow grabbed her by her hips, and slowly, kernel by kernel, slid himself into her. His painstakingly slow speed gave her body full time to adjust to the sensation, to feel every ridge of the strange member that was slipping between her inner labia, starting to stretch the muscles that guarded her inner anatomy.

Slip. Slip. Slip. As each ridge, each row of hard corn slipped into her, her body tightened again to grasp at the groove between kernels. Sarah had heard of condoms that were “ribbed,” supposedly “for her pleasure.” 

She had never experienced the use of one, the feel of one, but Jack’s unusual member was naturally ribbed, and he was certainly using it for her pleasure.

In real life? Probably unpleasant. In a fantasy story about a magical scarecrow coming to life on Halloween, in order to have sex with a woman? I think I made it work for most readers; I’ve only received a few complaints about that point, and any number of compliments. By making the connection between the corn and the condom, I made things a bit easer to swallow.

Language helped too. I use the word “slip,” because it’s a nice, easy, non-rough word, and I used this word to reassure the reader subconsciously that although the surface of the corn might be rough, things are actually going very smoothly in the story. I also describe the girth of the corn as follows:

It was wider than anything, than any cock or any toy, that Sarah had allowed inside of her before.

See what I did there? I compared it to human penises, and to sex toys. I take the potentially unpleasant, and I compare it to the pleasant and familiar. I take the un-sexy, and I compare it to the sexy. I make a connection between the Bad and the Good.

Also, once the nature of the scarecrow’s phallus is established, I backed away from mentioning that it was corn. The readers already knew, and didn’t want to keep their minds thinking about dried corn. So once the sex really starts, I simply refer to it as the scarecrow’s “cock” or his “shaft,” not his “corn-cock,” or his “ear of dry, rough corn,” or anything else that would bring the focus back around to unpleasant things.

Metaphors are quantum entanglement. Metaphors are voodoo. Metaphors join two different things, and they allow a good writer to manipulate one thing by manipulating the other thing.

A dinosaur’s penis is a warrior’s muscular thigh.

An ear of dried corn is a throbbing erection.

A dying deer is a woman having sex.

Metaphors are power. Learn to use them to their fullest.

The Nature of Storytelling

Written January 13, 2015

I’m not going to start in with elemental structures about plotting. I’m not going to go over stuff like story arcs, character creation, or “Show, Don’t Tell.” I’m going even more basic than that with this entry. The entire point of this entry is accomplish two simple things:

1. Explain briefly what storytelling is.
2. Explain why it is important for writers to understand what storytelling is.

This sort of thing is so basic that you might be wondering why I’m bothering even writing it. If somebody is an author, then surely they MUST know these things already, right?

Unfortunately, no. I occasionally find ebooks and authors that seem to miss these fundamentals in some important ways, so many in fact that I decided to write this blog post. If you already know everything that I say in this post, that’s great! But if you run into other people who DON’T seem to understand it, feel free to direct them this way.

Stating the obvious here for those who might miss the obvious:
“Storytelling” is simply telling a story.

A “Story”is simply a series of events. If you write something that has absolutely no events (implied or actual), or only one event, then what you have written is not a story.

“Telling” is the use of words to convey information.

What this adds up to is that Storytelling is “communicating a series of events” to an audience.

Are you with me?

Here’s why that’s important:
The nature of storytelling determines to a large extent the quality of any story that you write, because it also describes your goal when writing, to communicate.

A story that communicates successfully with its readers is, in a very fundamental way, a better story than a story that doesn’t communicate very well with its readers. As an author, you have something in your head that you wish to convey to other people. You have an imaginary series of events that you construct while plotting or writing a story, and the entire point of storytelling is to get other people to understand what’s inside your head, as best as you possibly can.

If you’re describing a character, you want the audience to imagine a person exactly as you imagine the person. If you’re describing a sequence of events, you want the audience to be able to understand exactly what is going on in that scene. And as a general rule, especially if you want to make money writing, you want as wide of an audience as possible, which means that your communication needs to be structured in such a way that a wide audience will be able to read what you have written, and to get the same story in their heads as you imagined in your own.

What this means is that very often a storyteller needs to set his/her ego aside when dealing with feedback from readers, because that feedback is telling you how successful your communication with the reader has been.

If a significant percentage of your readers are confused by a passage that you have written, then–no matter how crystal clear you think that passage already is–you should probably look at it again, to see if it can be made any clearer. Likewise, if you are using any writing technique that you find personally appealing, and you find that that technique interferes with communication with the reader, then you should re-assess the value of that technique in your writing.

Where Do I Get My Wonderful Ideas?

Like most authors, I’m frequently asked where I get the ideas for my stories. Often the person asking has a sense of curiosity or awe, and other times–like after stumbling onto one of my odder stories–it’s more like an accusation.

There’s no one easy answer to the question, so I’ll give several.

First and foremost, as well as recurring, I have a very busy mind. I become bored easily, and I don’t like it. Since I was a child, I’ve filled countless periods of boredom by either reading (or watching) some kind of story created by another person, or by making up my own stories. If, for example, I’m sitting in the waiting room to see the dentist, and I don’t have a book with me, and I either don’t have my phone or the internet is simply boring, I’ll let my mind wander about freely to see where it takes me.

Another factor to keep in mind at this point is that I’m kind of a pervert.  So my mind very often wanders toward sexy places.

Now, it helps that I mostly write short stories, and that I tend to be quite descriptive. This means that a very simple idea can end up becoming a good story. I can (and have) literally walked through a grocery store and come up with dozens of ideas:

Ooh! There’s a choke chain and leash for sale in Aisle 3. That could make for some kinky fun. Who wears it? Probably a naked girl. Why? Has she done it before? Let’s say she’s never done it before, because novelty makes for better erotica, and let us therefore say that she’s doing it… for a bet. But what kind of bet? And with whom?

I can just go on from there, filling in the questions as they come into my brain, until I have a fleshed-out plot. Then I write it. Just from walking through a store. Or, in this case, from thinking about walking through a store.

At the other end of the store is the veggie aisle. Cucumbers… well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? A girl masturbates with cucumber. But that’s been done, probably a LOT. So let’s make it different somehow. The cucumber isn’t for her. Who’s it for? A girl friend? Still cliche. How about her boyfriend? There we go. Because he’s got a massive penis, and before she’ll let him have anal sex with her, she wants to show him what it’s like to be on the receiving end. So the story opens with her in the grocery store, looking at cucumbers to judge if they’re the same size as her boyfriend’s penis. Maybe she fondles a few of them, gets some odd looks from other customers. Not the clerks; they’ve seen it all. They’re jaded…

And so forth.

The seed for an erotica story (so to speak) can be very simple, very small. It can be anything.

I listened to some TED Talks on technology the other day, and I came up with the idea for a phone app that matches people for sexual hookups not only based on their sexual compatibility, but also based on how much money they could make by filming themselves hooking up, and uploading the product to the internet.

That’s not just a story idea–it’s a story generating idea. I’ve written one story about this app so far (“That Syncing Feeling”), putting it in a cyberpunk setting, and I’m already mentally working on a second story. I can–and most likely will–be able to fill my own anthology with stories based all around that app.

I do like to have more than just sex go on in my stories, so once I have a seed, a basic idea, and a plot, I try to come up with additional ideas to make it stand out. With the cucumber example above, you can see that I often come up with things based simply on a desire to avoid the completely cliche.

My story “Corn Hold” (Just “Cornholed” on Literotica) for example, was written for a Halloween story contest. I wanted to avoid vampires and werewolves, because I figured that most stories would be covering those Halloween tropes. Same with ghosts, and to a lesser extent Frankenstein-type monsters. I tried to think of a Halloween creature that wasn’t done-to-death, and I came up with scarecrows. They show up in the occasional horror movie, but I’d never seen one in erotica before. Which made sense, because they were just rags stuffed with hay. What kind of penis would one even have…?

When I answered that question, I not only had the physics of the sex, but also the twist ending. The fact that the story turned out to be a decent exploration into the main character’s personality as well as the spirit of Halloween was all bonus.

Ideas are easy.

They’re in things you see, places you go.

They’re in the people that you meet, when you’re walking down the street.

Ideas are everywhere.

Shaping those ideas, cutting and polishing them so that they’re unique and memorable?

That’s a bit trickier. Maybe I’ll talk about that later down the road.

 

See you next time!