Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Harder Than It Looks, Being the Fourth Part of Five

See part three below.

Size Matters

So I began. And right away, I realized that I was operating under a host of misapprehensions. I was cocky (ha..."cock") : because it seems extraordinarily easy to knock off (heh heh...“knock off”…ffs, part of the danger of writing this stuff for any length of time is the way everything becomes a double entendre) 80 pages or so (about 25k words-- a common length...heh heh, “length”) of something that you don’t have to research and, if some examples are any indication, don’t have to spend too much proofreading.

But this was my first mistake. It’s incredibly difficult to plot a piece of novella length. I’m sure that other[lazy, hacky, whiny, worryingly glib] writers will back me up here when I say that it might just be the most irritating and least satisfying literary genre of them all. It’s got none of the sweep and scope of a longer work, so it doesn’t allow you to really stretch very far; but at the same time, it’s too long for just one marathon sex scene. You actually have to string together some semblance of a plot and character arc. It’s not a natural or intuitive length, but instead demands an uncomfortable allegiance to some kind of Platonic ideal of erotica: you start to wonder what the optimum number of sex scenes is, and just how much growth your characters should experience. You start writing post-it notes to yourself: “too many pages since last encounter – fix with masturbation or quickie scene," or “still need a reverse cowgirl and m/m/f anal scene before the end of chapter seven,” etc.

The second problem with my arrogant assumptions about the current e-rotica market was my profound ignorance of the manifold distinctions between genres. The first thing many people will notice about many smut publishers on the web is the wealth of material that caters to a readership interested in science fictional, supernatural, or fantastical settings. There’s also the thriller/noir alley, the western homestead, the erotica devoted to Japanese pop stars…there’s something for everyone, and that’s surely something to be celebrated. Except some houses get a little tetchy about what they will and won’t accept: submission guidelines can be absolutely opaque to the uninitiated—or anyone with a more than passing awareness of how fluid generic boundaries are in any one text. One publisher takes pains to note, for instance that they will accept paranormal and supernaturally-themed stories, but absolutely no SF. That seems a curious cut-off point to me, as once you step out onto the precarious limb of speculative fiction you might as well walk all the way out. Or maybe that particular rule gets to me personally because I am a huge science fiction geek, and I’d much rather spend time bashing the keys composing an epic-ette set on a space station than one that takes place in a haunted monastery. But whatever: every woman’s kink is her own.

What I truly don’t get are the publishers who stipulate that they will take paranormal but not paranormal horror. The distinction is actually lost on me. I swear, though, the submission guideline that finally broke my brain was the one that indicated the editor’s willingness—nay, eagerness—to “explode the paranormal boundaries.” Sounds good to me, I thought—until I read further and saw that she was looking for stories about manticores. That right there? That's the definition of an indecent proposal. That kind of frottage will kill you.

Up Next: Part Five-- Writing Outside the Box (the box...heh heh heh DO YOU GET IT?!)

Type rest of the post here


girl6 said...

Baby, don't strain your fro trying to plot e-erotica. Just write and let it come (heh heh come...). All you need is:

Chapter 1--"I was sitting out on my deck nude sunbathing and the plumber showed up and started laying pipe..."

Methinks the might be too bright and talented for this.

On the other hand, why constrain yourself with some publisher's rules? Write your own shit, put it up on a blog and call it "The Adventures of a Barely Legal Hentai Hottie" or something, and hook up the google adsense. Set up an email subscription and charge $5.99 for exclusive(read explicit) content.

I've got a friend who serialized her novel and charged $.99 a chapter(until she fell all in lurve with some dude and stopped writing).

p.s. "Prodigal Soul" is er, coming...

girl6 said...

Methinks *thee* is too bright....

Adams said...

Nah -- but I tried to tell myself the same thing! The fact is, I'm just crap at it. Stay tuned for the final episode of our tale: "Stings Like a Mother, In Which My Magnum Opus Gets Rejected and I am Forced to Acknowledge That I Do Not Know What I'm Doing."

girl6 said...

They just aint dig your cool, baby. Flick them.

thptpth said...

"Fluid boundaries." Heh heh heh...fluid.