After “My Lingerie-Loving Sister Moves In” was published and the comments started rolling in, I mentioned to a couple of my beta-readers that I was surprised that none of the comments mentioned lingerie as to me that was what was unique about the story and what made it so hot. One beta-reader replied:
Well, the thing about doing something _really_ well is that people get so immersed and lost in the story…..they don’t quite notice what makes it so special. It’s like, say, the musical score in a good action movie–if it’s perfectly done, the emotions are so overwhelming you don’t notice the music.
That got me to thinking about Sinead’s accent in “My European Summer Vacation”. I did a ton of research on the Cork accent and I worked hard to give Sinead a Cork accent. But no one ever said, “Great job on Sinead’s accent.” Now, I think there’s no such thing as a good accent – if I did right, that’s just a part of what makes Sinead Sinead. Only if I did a bad job with Sinead’s accent would it stand out.
I finished Dick Francis’ “Driving Force” two days ago. I noticed at some point he used “heard” instead of “herd”. Even bestsellers by veteran authors have tiny errors. If the story had been posted to LitE, I’m sure someone’s comment would be to trumpet blast the mistake.
I’ve been lucky as a writer and I’ve been too sensitive. I was lucky in that my first few stories got good ratings even though the writing technical was awful. I was too sensitive in that when I got some negative comments on Heather and Michael Ch 03, I bothered me so much that I stopped writing for almost a year and I abandoned writing three more H&M chapters. I was lucky in that I got on a roll after that with four very successful stories in a row, including the monster hits “My Sister Set Me Up on a Blind Date” and “My European Summer Vacation”. I was too sensitive in that it really bothered me when the next story after my two monster hits – “Comforting My Little Sister” – wasn’t a monster hit. So bothered that I didn’t even read the comments on it for a long time.
What do I owe my readers? Nothing to be honest. They haven’t paid me any money. A few of them bother to take the time to vote on my stories and even fewer are willing to spend a few moments to leave a comment.
A better question would be, “What do I want my readers to expect from me?” I want them to expect a well-crafted, well-written story. It may not be a monster hit, but it’s the best I can do. Writing is alchemy, not science. Each story is its own adventure. I knew when I finished “My European Summer Vacation” that it was going to be my best story ever. I’ve finally coming to terms with the fact that no matter how hard I work on my next story, it isn’t going to be as good. I’ve come to accept that striving for the next monster hit means not working on a lot of good stories.
Lastly, I’ve come to accept that I should write what I want to write, even if I know it’s not going to be a monster hit. “Getting Ready To Close The Deal” is getting reamed and several commenters have expressed their disappointment that I had spent the time writing it. But it was damn fun to write. And I think I need to embrace the joy of writing. I have started on two romance stories and one fantasy story. I don’t read those categories and my stories may not be what readers of those categories are looking for. But if one of those stories are what I moved to write, then I have come to accept that that’s the story I should write, acceptance be damned.
I’ve printed out “My Cousin Shows Me Around Campus” and reading through it on paper as a final edit. I’m changing stuff left and right. 37 changes in the first four pages. And I’ve done multiple editing passes on this story.
Don’t expect a lot of help on improving your writing from Literotica. Before I started publishing there, I had thought that the site would have lots of authors that were working together to improving their writing. A large number of authors go to Literotica to publish their stories every year and there really isn’t other place to discuss your erotic story. It’s not like you can discuss your latest LitE story with your co-workers before the start of your next departmental meeting. To my surprise when I did start writing, there wasn’t a lot of help from my fellow LitE authors.
There are three main places to turn to on LitE for help. The first is the storyfeedback forum. Go there to create a thread asking for feedback on your story. Sadly, not many people will provide you feedback. If your story is about a less-popular topic, no one may bother read it and give you feedback. I hang out there quite a bit.
The second is the Author’s Hangout. Before I started hanging out there, I would have thought there would have been a lot of deep discussions about writing. Writers would bring up an issue that they are having in their current story and other writers would offer their insights. There aren’t too many threads like that and most of them get just superficial responses. Too many of the responses are sniping or snark.
The last place is Adult How To story category. There are a number of writing articles posted there, but I find them shallow and full of platitudes. That category is really better if you want to find out how to perform some kind of sex that you have don’t before like anal. Lots of articles on how to give head and eat pussy.
Lastly, the last source of assistance to improving your writing on LitE is the comments and Private Messages you get. I find those not very helpful for improvement. People leaving comments rarely take the time to provide enough detail to be helpful. For example, I’ve seen lots of comments like “get an editor” and “re-read your story before posting it”, which aren’t helpful when I re-read the story many times before sending it to an editor.
My biggest advice is to have low expectations, but I’ll save discussing that for another time.
My next biggest is to start small. I see so many first time authors start with a multi-chapter story. And their first chapter sucks. Then they are committed to a major project that’s going to have a small and shrinking audience. I was going to do that and fortunately decided to start small before publishing the first chapter of my magnus opus (turns out the first chapter of my magnus opus sucked). Your first story is not going to be very good. Write something small (2-4 pages) and get your feet wet.
“My Cousin Shows Me Around Campus” is out to beta-readers. I got some feedback for an earlier version and have incorporated that. I thought of a couple little changes after I sent it out. I’m not expecting to make too many more changes. So now it’s time to worry about how it’s going to be received. Ever since “My Daughter Interrupts My Work” got a sub-4 initial rating, I’ve decided I’m a poor judge of how my stories are going to do. So much work and it’s a crap shoot as to how people are going to like it.