The Dread Middle

So I’ve talked about getting a story started, and about ending it,* but that ignores the entire middle part, you know, where all the story/sex goes. Lots of other writers call it the dreaded middle, and when I can put my head down and just bulldoze it over the course of a few days or weeks, depending on the length of the work, sometimes I can’t.

The thing about the middle is that there is just so much stuff there, and I mean stuff in the technical sense. Limbs, people, props, fortuitous interruptions, non-fortuitous interruptions, guns that go off, guns that don’t go off, guns that are used for sex of an extremely questionable nature, just stuff.

As any juggler will tell you, any ball that you throw up in the air is a ball that you need to be ready to catch. The problem is that sometimes, when you throw the ball up in the air, it comes down as a snake, or jar of jam, or a gender problem. I juggle very badly, and on a bad day, I write like a juggle, that is dropping things all over the place, with plot points rolling away under the bed, and getting stuck behind the radiator.**

Often, I don’t know how to fix these things until much later. Sometimes I get smart and correct them on the go, but other times, I only realize that things are wrong after the story is done. Excising thousands of words is uniquely painful, but its nothing compared to replotting a story from nearly the ground up. Eventually, the bleeding word count feels like a flesh wound compared to the reconstructive surgery that needs to be done.***

So, for your perusal, 3 instances where I had to make major changes to my story.

Where the Hell Did Liulfr Go?

So Lord of Misrule is a novella that is going to be published soon, and the main characters are Verity and Iskander. Liulfr is a secondary character and he shows up in the first third of the novella, has sex with Verity and then summarily disappears. This was the first draft of the story and Lauren very wisely told me to put him back in or to take him out. Some major novella restructuring later, he was actually incorporated into the main plot. He’s unhappy, he makes Iskander unhappy, I call that a win.

Erotic Romance Is Meant to Have Romance.
The first erotic novella I finished was called Tsukumogami, and it was a cyberpunk story featuring a hardware designer, the heir to a Japanese corporation and a Chinese sword ghost. I liked the story, writing the sex was fun, and then my first readers asked, “Hey, what are they feeling?” The answer that immediately sprang to mind was obscene, but then it was explained to me that people have emotions, and feelings. I can write sex, I’m pretty sure I can write angst, but romance is something else again. That one’s shelved until I can figure out what else is going on.

Surprise Non-Con!
Consent and power play are two recurrent themes in the erotica I write. As I’ve mentioned before, they’re great things to hang stories off of. However, when non-consensual sex sneaks into my stories, and I didn’t plan to put it there, there’s a bit of a moment. I was writing a story for a steampunk anthology submission and suddenly I realized that the way things were going, the female ballerina was going end up raping the automaton designer. If I had planned it that way, it would be one thing, having it sneak up on me was not okay. That story was shelved and I didn’t have anything to submit, and I still need to figure out if that’s something I need to fix or if the idea needs to be scrapped.
Coming Soon:
My Favorite Stories, My Least Favorite Stories
Why Read Erotica?
I Talk About the Fact That I Am Becoming a Crazy Plant Lady
*On stories where I am very tired, it is less “ending it” than “step on its head before it breeds!”
**Reigning Queen of Bad Metaphors since 2001.
***See second footnote.


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