Jul 272009

OldFan asked me a question that I started to anwser till it turned into a rambling multipart response. The question was-

I notice that in general your stories seem to be somewhat shorter these days (except for the occasional long multi-parter) than they used to be. Is that just how your style has evolved, a reflection of your posting medium, or maybe just not having as much time available?

Actually, I have more time now to write than I have ever had. My wife leaves me alone when I tell her I want to write, which is an incredible change from the ex-wife. I can actually write when I want to instead of waiting for her to leave the house or getting up at 5am to get some writing done. But for all my extra time, my stories are much shorter. What is up with that?

The first reason is as an observer of other mediums, I notice that good movies and comic books start the story as late as possible. When I first started writing, I had this urge to explain everything. I wanted the reader to know a lot about the character, be fully informed on why the plot is happening and I wanted to establish everything ahead of time. I think this comes from being a newbie writer but I also think it comes from living with a highly critical woman who used to nitpick me to death. I over explained because I was trying to head off criticism from my ex-wife.

The thing I learned over time is that readers are smart. Not only that, but readers have a wealth of previous reading to draw from. Even my youngest readers have been raised on countless television shows and Harry Potter. They understand that when they read an erotic story, something sexy is about to happen. If the story begins in a work environment, they start to fill in their own erotic feelings about work. If I start the story in the bedroom and in the middle of sex, they bring their own expectations about what happened right before this moment.

I’ve learned to do a lot of this by evoking certain cliche triggers. I can mention that someone is curvy and people insert their own definition of the word, along with the personalities they associate with it. I can mention a woman is older, and readers imagine anyone from 30 to 80. It’s not laziness on my part although I sometimes accuse myself of it. Reading the responses I get from my readers, I notice that they infer a lot of things that I didn’t put in, but their inference made the story more enjoyable for themselves.

I also can’t discount the effect blogging as had on my story lengths. Back when I felt compelled to post every single day, I was forced to approach stories with the attitude of “What do I really want to say here?” Sometimes what I wanted to say was a single moment. Over time I realized that this brevity was actually a good thing. If all I really wanted to say was a few moments about an employee bent over and saying how bad she is, why add anything else to it? That is the erotic moment I want people to think about, and in so many cases, anything extra is unnecessary. The fast pace of blogging forced me to edit myself and I think every writer can benefit from that.

I hope that answers your question. if anyone else has anything, let them rip.

  5 Responses to “Short and Quick”

  1. Hmmm…fair enough and quite interesting. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I didn’t mean to inspire a post in itself, lol! Styles in any medium always evolve for a variety of reasons unless one consciously chooses not to let it happen.

    Personally, I always found your stories of, say, a Thigh vs Thigh episode in length to be the most satisfying (aside from your longer works). With a few exceptions I’ve always preferred longer literary works to shorter (series over stand-alone novels, novels over short stories, etc.) as long as the subject matter was compelling (and there was no shark jumping). I still love your newer longer works (especially Beach Volleyball Madd-ness). While filling in unspoken details isn’t really a problem for me, I find your shorter recent works leave me wanting more, not that that’s a bad thing (“Always leave them wanting more, kid!”).

    Eh, but that’s just me. Your work still rocks, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    PS “Even my youngest readers have been raised on countless television shows and Harry Potter.” Good God, has Harry Potter really been around that long? Now I do feel old!

  2. @OldFan: Yes, alas, Harry Potter really *has* been around that long. The usual rule-of-thumb for kiddy lit is that the hero should initially be the same approximate age as your target audience. Harry was 11 when introduced in 1997, so by that logic his original fans should have been old enough to drink for the two years now.

    @Shon: I do enjoy your work… though unlike Harry Potter, I don’t read it to my kids! :)

  3. OldFan- Thigh Vs Thigh was my first taste of writing shorter. I put myself on a crazy one-story-a-week schedule and often I would be there Sunday afternoon trying to crank out a story. In those stories, I would dump one of the agents and just focus on the other, and even then, it was a story that got to the point.

    Wait a minute, I’m one a cray once a week schedule now! Oh crap.

    I remember when a college age fan told me about reading Potter as a young teen and I felt every one of my thirty-something years. Holy crap.

    Anonymous- I now have this horrible image of someone reading Queen Erishella stories as a bedtime story.

  4. Ah, Shon, you sweet old fart…

    As one writer to another, thanks a lot for this. I haven’t been writing much prose fiction these days – more poetry than anything else, or else vignettes of porn for the very demanding sadist, who expects a lot of the submissive writer of masturbatory bonbons he keeps on retainer. But I did write a story recently, which is in the editing stage, and I’m curious to go back and see if I overdid it on the exposition. Except in this case it’s not erotica, it’s specifically exploring a particular issue, so it requires a good bit of back story.

    But especially in the case of erotica, I really like your point of leaving room for the wanker to fill in some of the specifics, for maximum effectiveness. Good point.

    Thanks again.


  5. I would love to have Queen Erishella stories read to me at night!

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