Apr 172008

At this point you have written your story. You have a tight plot. You have characters you love. You have worked and worked and worked at this story. You’ve been working hard and you can’t wait to share your story. You want to post that baby right now.

The bad news is that you are not close to being done. This is just the first draft. I know: you never did second drafts in high school or college. Brilliance flows from you on the first try. It’s just porn, so why work that hard on it? It’s just going on the Internet.

My first snarky anwser is this: In high school, when you wrote a paper with a flaw, you did’t get e-mails seven years later pointing out typos and plot holes like I do now.

Your stories, even the ones on the Internet, last a damn long time. Why not do it right the first time?

Other than fixing mistakes, there is another excellent reason to rewrite your stories. Rewriting gives you the chance to turn a good story into something wonderful.

Back in the day when I first starting posting stories to newsgroups, the popular fad was to get an editor. This was a person who reads your story, corrects your types and asks you what the hell is up with the threesome in chapter three. Sometimes the editors would even jump in and rewrite chapters where the action was unclear. I know in at least one case where an editor got more credit than the writers who wrote the stories.

I am here to tell you that having a proofreader is helpful but don’t let them be your crutch. Honestly, you will be a better writer if you do your own second draft. Your confidence will increase and quite frankly, so will your skills. By all means, if someone wants to proofread, take advantage of it. Just don’t let them be your safety net for your own sloppy writing.

Hopefully I have convinced you to do a rewrite. How should you go about it? Everyone is different but here are some tips I use.

First things first. Once the story is done, walk away from it. Write another story. Go out on dates. Start a new hobby. Do something to give your mind a break and take you away from being mindful of your story. We are trying to get you far enough from the story so that when you come back to it, you are coming back as a brand new reader, not the writer.

Now that you have almost forgotten the story, come back and start reading. Resist the urge to do any writing this point except fixing obvious typos. At this stage you are reading with an open mind and more paying attention to yourself than you are the story. You are looking to see where you have written plot lines or hooks that go nowhere.

For example: Let’s say in our kinky high school story, we open the story with our main character being scolded by her father. As a writer, we just want the scolding to set the story but what if the father says something about a trip to Europe that he used as a bribe? As the writer you may have meant it as a throw away line but as the reader, you might be wondering more about the trip. You might see the trip as a possible major source of motivation for the main character to shape up. Considering that you know the trip never comes up again, you have have a problem. Either eliminate the trip altogether because it sets up false expectations, or retrofit the prize of the trip throughout the rest of the story so that enhances your story.

You would be amazed how often this happens in a long story. I’ve had interesting characters appear and vanish too quickly. I’ve had sex toys appear but never get used. When you write stories, you know what is important at the moment and write accordingly. When you re-read, you realize that the reader will build up expectations and in some cases, preferences, that do not get satisfied by the current draft of your story.

I’m not saying you have to satisfy the promises laid out by your writing but you need to be aware of them so you can make the choice to either satisfy it or remove the expectation altogether.

Pay attention to tone. Long stories get written over a stretch of different moods. What was awesome in the heat of moment might feel out of place in the context of the longer story.

For example, when I wrote Cell Phone Slave the fraternity chapter was much harsher. All of the frat students were jerks and there was a lot of verbal humiliation. In my mind, I wanted to show that Amaya would obey even if the people she served were not pleasant or handsome. I still like the chapter but during my re-read, it occurred to me that these side characters were one of the few glimpses we get of the kind of people the romantic male lead would associate with. In my mind, I knew he found these jerks to make them a test, but the reader wouldn’t know it unless I spelled it out. In the end I rewrote the chapter to make the frat students much nicer and respectful. I think the first version was hotter but this version made you respect the mysterious male lead more.

Feel free to really change things around. You’ve done the hard part of writing it. This is your chance to really get creative. I look at my long story like it is a bunch of building blocks. I move chapters around. I try adding characters and writing them through the whole story line. Much like a DVD with deleted scenes, feel free to cut whole chapters and see what havoc or blessings it creates in your story.

After working hard to forget your story now is the time when you really learn your story inside and out. You can be more objective at this point. After all, you’ve written the story you wanted to write. Now is when you notice things like that wonderful side character is really just a drain on the plot. After rewriting a few times, you can cut characters without hesitation.

Let me make a note about sex scenes. You might have a crisis of faith in yourself once you have read ten of your own sex scenes back to back. I know I do sometimes. When you write a lot of short erotica, you pick up habits that don’t become apparent till you see three separate scenes that use the same descriptions for oral sex. Don’t get too discouraged. Use this as an opportunity to better your story and yourself as a writer.

Now you are done. Well, you will know when you are done. It is a cross between never wanting to see the story again and knowing deep down in your heart that you’ve made something really special.

Next time, we cover extra credit.

Your homework assignment is to become a rewriter. Learn to fix your own mistakes rather than leaving them for an editor to find. Slow down and take the time a story needs to be perfected rather than posting it as soon as possible.

This assignment counts towards 20% of your grade.

  6 Responses to “Rewriting and You”

  1. I’m failing this class.


  2. Luckily you have your whole life to prepare for the finals.

  3. Shame on you, Shon! You made musns cry!

  4. Oh, boi! Eye am sew acing this klass – thys assinements the eeziest won yette! Hoo kneads xtra kredit?


  5. Ooh, i do like wondering what form your grading will take.


  6. Today, in fact, was editing day, with the job scheduled to be finished tomorrow. I’m dealing with 2 projects: finishing up a non-kinky story I wrote in a whoosh back in May (I can’t believe it was that long ago) and writing a new one, kinky, with a deadline. They’re not as long as the form you are addressing, but quite long for me. The old one was 3500 words and I hope the new one will be about the same.

    So the editing and re-writing isn’t quite as complex, but definitely necessary. And while the old story had been brewing in my mind for a while, and when I finally forced myself to sit down and write it gushed out in a welcome springtime manic fit, I had to force myself to write the last section. So that part is most in need of a re-write. Although when I looked at it this afternoon it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Then there’s the reference to BDSM I slipped into the beginning which really doesn’t belong. It’s important to me but would distract from the point of the story. So I need to replace it with something else as a transition.

    Anyway, I think I should end up with full credit for this part of the class.

    Thank you very much, and look for an apple on your desk.

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