Plotter or pantser?

January 25, 2018

Forward motion has stopped in my current WIP. My goal of writing 500 words daily has more or less gone out the window, though each day I tell myself I’m going to get back to it. As soon as … [fill in the blank].

That isn’t to say I haven’t written anything at all. My current WIP might not be moving ahead, but it’s still gaining words. When I reached the end of what I have written so far, I realized there needed to be an additional scene or two much earlier.

A year or so ago (I’m not sure when, time gets more fluid the older you get), I read a writing book that suggested you can write faster if you sit down and plot out the entire story all at once. Then, when you’re stuck on a scene or at a part of the story you’re not really all that interested in writing, you can hop around to another chapter, or skip ahead to the end, and then fill in the rest of the blanks.

Unfortunately I can’t write like that. Most of the time when I sit down to write a story, all I have are the characters, the opening scene, and maybe something farther on down the line I hope to get to eventually. I say “hope” because the scene I wanted to write when I wrote the first book in what became my Vic and Matt series doesn’t actually appear until several stories in (for those interested, it was the bulletproof scene in 7-11 that appears in The Bonds of Love).

Before I started writing regularly (and I say “writing” instead of “publishing” because I had a year-long love affair with fanfic, as some of you might remember, before I decided to begin writing what I called “original slash” at the time), I would think through an entire story before I ever put word one down on paper. And that’s probably why many of those tales sizzled out after a few chapters. The longest is 50k, but it’s only the beginning of what was supposed to be an epic fantasy story I never bothered finishing.

Why? Well, to be honest, once I thought my way through to the end, I lost interest in writing it out. The story was over for me, even if it wasn’t finished for anyone else. So I have a drawer (and several discs) full of stories that petered out, stories I’ll most likely never bother going back to again.

I don’t want that to happen now. I have several WIPs I think are good (then again, don’t we all think all our own stories are good? I mean, we have to, if we want to promote and suggest them to readers). But I still can’t let myself think too far in advance, even in a short story like the one I’m working on now.

But what started out as a quick little sex tale has sort of taken on a life of its own. And when I reached this point in the story …

Giving Jo’s neck a firm squeeze, Lee says, “Open up.”
Jo looks past the thick dick in his face to frown up at Lee. “But I thought—”
“Did I say you could speak?” Lee thrusts his hips forward, and the tip of his cock smears across Jo’s cheek.

I knew I had to go back and fill in some blanks before I could figure out where things went from here.

Though, honestly, I know where they go (obvs it’s a sex scene). Hopefully the payoff will satisfy readers better, now that there’s a bit more backstory earlier.

Still, I haven’t let myself think about what happens when the afterglow fades. So I’m really pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, the way I always do when I write. Sometimes I’m as much surprised by what happens as anyone!

Writing, writing, writing …

January 15, 2018

Last year was abysmal in terms of my writing. I can’t imagine I wrote more than 15k all told all year long. I mean, seriously? I’ve been more or less writing daily since 2004, and to get sidelined like that is crap.

Personally, I blame Trump.

Whatever the reason, I only finished one story last year, ONE, and it was a short F/F erotica story called Eating Out. This year I plan to do better. I know I can do better. So it’s time to get down to brass tacks (whatever that means).

To give you some idea of what I hope to accomplish (and what you can hopefully expect to see), here are my current works-in-progress. I should limit myself to only one story at a time, but I should do a lot of things I don’t!

Current WIP: Owned — A sci-fi M/M erotic romance story that will most likely top out at 12K-ish when all is said and done. The working title is the name of a video game mentioned in the story, but unless the sex scene ends up with heavy BDSM elements, I’ll end up changing the title. At the moment, I’m 8K into it and am at the beginning of the sex scene in question. And yes, this is going to be an explicit story, not one of my fade to black romances!

Crazy About the Cat Lady — Another F/F story, this one a sweet romance. It’s at 7,600 words now and will probably end up being around 12K or so. It’s a meet cute type thing, and of course, it involves cats, because cats are awesome.

Lloyd and Doug — Obviously this is a working title. I used the main characters’ names because I can’t think of anything else to call it yet. This one I’m fairly well into, around 13K so far, and I’m thinking it’ll be novella length at least, maybe even a short novel. And yes, this is one of my “daddy” stories (about actual fathers of young kids), for those of you who like that sort of thing.

Both of those last stories are ones I started last year and set aside at some point to work on something new. I also have an alpha/omega story (also at 13K) that I started in 2016 and didn’t get very far on, and a story that I planned as an M/M short erotic romance but I stopped around 5K.

With luck, I’ll wrap up at least a few of these before long! I could also share snippets here, if
anyone’s interested in seeing what I’ve done on the stories. That might even help me get cracking on them, who knows?

I don’t need your story ideas

January 5, 2018

The moment someone finds out I’m a writer, they almost always say, “Have I got a story for you!”

As if I don’t have enough story ideas of my own to keep me writing from now until the end of time. If I’m struggling to work on one of them, I sure as hell don’t need to write someone else’s story to help me break through writer’s block.

Then there are the people who think their idea is SO DAMN GREAT!!!! that they just KNOW you’re going to fawn all over it the moment they reveal it to you. They’re sure it’ll earn a TON of money, even though I’ve been in this business long enough to know what people expect writers to earn is miles (make that lightyears) away from what we really make.

So no, I’m not interested in writing your book for you. Or even really listening to your idea, because I have too many of my own to write.

First of all (you know the shit’s about to hit when that phrase pops up), what you’re looking for is called a ghostwriter, and that pays big bucks. Which means you need to be able to shell out enough money to make it worth my while to write your story before you earn anything. And there’s no guarantee you’re going to make any (or all) of that back.

Here’s a true story: last year my CPA tried to get me to ghostwrite a nonfiction book about postage stamps (yes, for real — who would read it?). He claimed I could earn $10k or more from it, though I’m not sure how he arrived at that figure. I can’t imagine a nonfiction book about stamps bringing in anywhere near that much once it’s on sale. I guess he thought the “real” author would pay me out of an advance, but are there actually publishers clamoring for stamp stories? I just can’t see it.

Or maybe you’re looking for a book doctor, someone who will take your finished manuscript and “doctor” it into something readable. Note I say “finished” — book doctors work with something you’ve already written. It’s like an intense edit that will take a rough story and polish it into a diamond. Again, you have to pay upfront for this work, because no one works for free. And I’m still not writing your story.

Maybe the next time someone tries to sell me on writing something for them, I’ll bring up the notebook I keep on my bedside table that’s full of ideas I’ve jotted down over the years. Once all those stories are written — and after I’m done working on all the other ideas I’ll get during the time I’m working on the first lot — I’ll probably still not be interested in working on your story.

If you’re dead set on getting your story out there and don’t want to tackle it yourself, or if you’ve written a draft and need someone to go over it to “make it good,” I recommend taking a look at Fiverr. I’m sure there you’ll find ghostwriters and book doctors aplenty eager to take on your story, but I’m not one of them.

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