Who Needs a Plot?

As a matter of fact, I do.

It’s interesting, but despite writing something like fifty-mumble stories for publication, I’m still pretty bad at plots. Short stories, I get away with it a little more easily. A short story, especially if its leading up to an erotic encounter, means that I just wind up two characters with vaguely compatible desires and let them crash into each other.

The longer a story gets, the less likely the wind ‘em up, let ‘em go method is to work. Eventually, people need to get dressed and go find something else to make people keep reading. I have problems with this.

I’m reasonably good at faking a plot at this point, I think. There’s a problem (homicidal ghost possession, data theft, oops-I’m-running-a-dictatorship) and eventually, there’s a solution (sexual bribery, cyberpunk shenanigans, bugger-this-for-a-game-of-soldiers, I’ll-let-myself-out-the-back).

I have honestly lost track of the amount of time I’ve wasted on writing something that is going no where. Fun characters, fun world and then they go on to do…. absolutely nothing.*

So for my notes as much as anything, here’s how I make a plot.

Make Their Lives Suck.
No one wants to read about happy people, and happy people don’t do much. Happy people sit at home, knit, have meaningful conversations with their families, pay their mortgage on time and volunteer at the animal shelter. Unhappy people sink into despair, fight their way out of despair, tame dragons, fight evil empires and engage in forbidden magic.

Invent a Villain
Every story’s got to start somewhere, and a lot of them start with someone doing something Very, Very Bad. I’m one of those contrary people who tends to prefer villains to heroes, so I think I’m just going to run with that.

Work Backwards
This thing happens where I get an image, a line, a scene or something like that, and I then I have to figure out what happened before that and after that. This is what I do a lot, and some days it works, and some days I have 3000 words worth of what-the-fuck. The days when it works are pretty cool thought. That’s kind of how I wrote Beautiful Monsters.
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Coming Soon:
More Writing! Writing Forever!
Watching the Long-Suffering Girlfriend Play Dragon Age
Four Cool Plots I Am Releasing Into the Wild
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*I don’t get it. How can going off to overthrow an evil empire be absolutely nothing? **
**When I have once again created characters who are too broken/selfish/distracted/smart to go take on an evil empire, that’s how.

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As a Matter of Fact, I Never Learn Anything

I once heard someone say that you never learn to write novels, you just learn to write specific novels.

I never quite knew what that meant until I had a few more stories/novellas under my belt, and then it was sort of like a flower pot hitting me on the head.*

As a matter of fact, just about everything I have written has had a different process. Check it out:

Under the Skin
This novella is forthcoming for Torquere Press and it more or less happens in the same world where Virgin, from the Queerpunk collection, takes place. It features high-stakes information banditry and cyberjack fetishism. For this one, I wrote a blurb and then loosely outlined it. Didn’t figure out the ending until about 18,000 words in, which was kind of nerve-wracking. I have never been able to replicate writing a novella this way since.

Lord of Misrule (short story)
No idea, no idea, no idea, 2 days from the deadline, idea, write, write, write, submit, roll around on Miss Rat’s floor, foam at the mouth.

Lord of Misrule (novella)
I carefully outlined the novella and then promptly threw it out the window to write something a lot scarier. Originally it was going to be a lighter series of short stories, and then it turned into something about academic blackmail, and then it turned into the dark fantasy-meets-grad school thing that got published.

Charming Monsters
This is the story about serial killers and black mail that is currently in final edits. It is one of the more frightening pieces of erotica that I have ever written, largely because I know what kind of monster the man who calls himself Jack really is. This one started from a single paragraph and then I just wound up the characters and let them go. It’s easy when characters with gaping personality flaws get set on a collision course.

Anyway, hi to everyone I’ve missed over the past few months and here’s attempt two to start posting weekly. Hope everyone’s doing well out there!
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Coming Soon:
Elizabethan Fantasy Novella, Now With More Poison!
Where the Hell Is My Plot?
Possibly a Snack
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*Less impressive than a lightning bolt hitting me on the head. That was what happened when I realized that good food and lots of sleep helped me fix my body, or you know, when I realized why medicine existed. **
** “Gee, I wish there was something I could do that would just alleviate the symptoms of my cold so that I could be more comfortable while it runs its course.”

Blog Tour: Carnal Machines

Hello and welcome!

I seem to be the fifth stop on the blog tour for Carnal Machines, so please help yourself to some of the free fiction I’ve left out. Stay and check things out or hit my blogroll to see some of the sites.

I'm in this!

“Deviant Devices,” my story for Carnal Machines, features a prostitute searching for a better position, a secretary who goes above and beyond his job description, and a machine that’s the bastard child of a fainting couch and something much less savory. This story is for you if you like exhibitionism, erotic machinery, a woman who knows what she likes and a man who likes to work with his hands.

Writing this story was fun; it went through about a dozen permutations before it settled on the one in the book. If you are curious about this process, well, it all started with an airship engineer and a gunner.

Steampunk is one of those things that sort of broadsided me. For a long time back in 2005 or so, it was this one thing that Miss Rat did. Then I started hearing that line about goths discovering brown and then boom, stripey socks, zepplins and alternative history everywhere.

Not that I minded. I’m a big fan of Victoriana and I keep the period erotic pieces The Pearl and The Way of a Man and His Maid on my shelf. Those have both taught me a lot.*

I hope to write more steampunk in the future. I think that there’s not enough non-English-oriented steampunk out there, which was why I was so happy to see Lisabet Sarai’s offering in Carnal Machines, “Her Own Devices,” which takes place in Hong Kong.** Also, I want to write a story that has an airship pirate in it. I never have and I feel like I am missing out.

Scroll to the bottom of this entry for an excerpt of “Deviant Devices” and don’t forget to check out the other stops on Carnal Machine’s Blog Tour!

May 1 D. L. King http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
May 2 Teresa Noelle Roberts http://teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com
May 3 Kathleen Bradean http:/kathleenbradean.blogspot.com
May 4 Jay Lawrence http://jaylawrenceerotica.blogspot.com
May 5 Kannan Feng https://kannanfeng.wordpress.com
May 6 Essemoh Teepee http://www.smotp.com/html/blog.html
May 7 Elizabeth Schechter http://easchechter.wordpress.com/blog
May 8 Delilah Devlin http://delilahdevlin.com/blog
May 10 Renee Michaels https://alimom.wordpress.com/
May 11 Elias St. James http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
May 12 Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
May 13 Janine Ashbless http://janineashbless.blogspot.com
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Coming Soon:
Kannan Feng Updates Like a Responsible Adult
Kannan Feng Pays Her Goddamn Power Bill
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*Namely, they have both taught me that yes, it is possible to have too much flogging in a story. I did not know that before.
**I also have a little crush on her character Chris Barton in that story, but that’s neither here nor there. Ahem.

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“Deviant Devices” Excerpt

The phallus was screwed into one of the jointed mechanical arms and Mercer pivoted it around and bent it forward so that it was pointed squarely between her legs.

Victoria couldn’t take her eyes off of it. It was a gorgeous toy, but she couldn’t ignore the metal arm behind it. It looked ready to impale her, and she lifted her head to look at Mercer, who was looking over the controls behind her head.

He caught her gaze and smiled reassuringly.

“This is going to make some noise,” he warned her. “Be ready.”
There was a series of clicks and then the machine began to whirr. It was not the loud, brutal clanking that she had been braced for, and she was aware of a strong, steady vibration through the frame of the couch.

She managed to observe all of that until she felt the head of the phallus pushing at her cunt. It was gentle, just probing, but she could feel the strength behind it. Victoria was beginning to feel a panic rising in her throat but then Mercer was kneeling beside her, his gloved fingers spreading her open to allow the phallus to enter.

“It’s not perfect yet,” he murmured. “I’m still needed for some things.”

“Well, thank God for that,” she said, breathing hard. She wrapped her arm around his shoulder, and having him there, solid and human, helped as the phallus pushed into her body in short, smooth movements.