I’ve noticed that over time I’ve stopped being compared to my compatriot, Jashley13. For those that don’t know (and that might be over half of you at this point), Jashley13 was an author that got started on sexstories.com, like me. In fact, he was the reason I got into erotica writing. To make a long story short, I was a critical little bugger before writing my own sex stories, and Jashley13 was a popular writer known for his series She Is The One. After a particular chapter that I thought wasn’t well-written, I wrote a scathing comment and told him how he needed to improve, and checked back a little while later to find the comment gone. Enraged by the thought that he deleted criticism, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, you think you can just delete my comment because I’m a nobody? Fine! Then I’ll just have to become a somebody, then you’ll listen to me!’ Maybe 12 hours later, chapter one of Being More Social was finished.
It looks like I accomplished my goal.
It needs to be mentioned that Jashley13 didn’t actually delete my comment, it was just the comment submission system fucking up, and that he and I are friends. It should also be noted that I was a vindictive little twit when I started, and I sadly embodied a lot of the drama that my high school-oriented stories roll their eyes at. Even before I considered writing erotica, I was writing a novel about high school, called Cliques. After Being More Social was into chapter 4, I scrapped Cliques and the twenty or so pages of it I had written, as it was apparent it was kind of terrible and lacked a point.
Anyway, that’s the backstory. Ever since the both of us left our roots to pursue our own goals involving writing erotica, we were constantly compared to one another, though in the past 12 months that’s virtually not been happening at all. On one hand, I’m glad, but I also need to be very aware of the reasons why. It’s not just because we have drifted apart from being the same overall community, I also feel like the both of us have been structurally getting further and further from the formatting style we shared when we started out.
Both of us would write chapters about high school romance, feelings, drama etc in installments of 10,000 words or more a chapter. Not only have I, at least temporarily, drifted away from stories about high school, I also have thrown away the longer story in favor of shorter stories. Whether they be by chapter (GBM’s average chapter length is around 6-7000 words) or just having the stories themselves by one-shot installments, I’ve seemed to throw away my original format.
Contrast this with the somehow still-going She Is The One, clocking in at I believe over 100 chapters. Yes, that’s right, 100 chapters with usually 10,000 or more words. You could fit Tolstoy’s War and Peace twice in a word count like that. I’ve heard from him that his chapters are longer now than they were before, so I imagine his piece is beginning to approach the title of longest piece of literature in the english language. The only problem is, is longest the best?
On one hand we have an attention-deficit writer wanting to write about so many ideas, they don’t leave room for anticipation. On the other, you have a writer who has stuck with one literary piece so long I put off reading it because I know that I’d have to read it from the beginning to get full context, and I don’t have a full month to read one story. I honestly question sometimes if the both of us have lost sight of the best thing for our stories.
A criticism I got recently that’s stuck with me is that my style comes across as that of a writer begging to be taken seriously and intellectually, who doesn’t seem to put enough subtext and cleverness in the actual writing to validate the implications of such cleverness. A criticism I’ve heard multiple times towards my friend Jashley13 is that his piece isn’t worth keeping up with anymore, because it’s too much effort. Not only that, but one person says he thinks the story ‘jumped the shark’ too many times, which piqued my interest. I’ve had a good amount of time to think about it, and I think I concur with the sentiment. If you create a piece as monumentally big as more than a million words, you either didn’t write it well, or you’re never going to outdo yourself ever again, you’re never going to make a part of the story coming up a reader’s favorite part. That spells certain doom for your written piece. I almost wonder if I did that with Being More Social, which clocks in at 250,000~ words.
I feel like balance is key here. Folks love a long sex story. People want to read a part two. People love seeing ‘chapter one’ at the end of a piece. The written series I used to uphold as good storytelling and now I think of as abysmal, An Incest Birthday, has had its final chapter’s part one of two up for two years, and people comment on it to this day. People love anticipation, and tension. It’s honestly really clever to use tension and anticipation in a sex story of all things. People want a huge buildup, and a big payoff which turns out to be the best part of the story. I sometimes worry I did a poor job finishing up Being More Social, because the one chapter you can’t afford to fuck up, besides the first chapter, is the last chapter. I’ve found that people will generally forgive a bad chapter as long as no habit is being made, but you can’t begin or end a story with something comparatively worse than the meat of the story. Refer again to my comment about how making a story too long dooms the story to be mediocre.
In a way, I should have seen the relative lack of popularity of Panopticon and Amy’s Fantasy coming, at least in relation to my other two stories. I still will, most likely, keep penning shorter stories alongside my longer ones. Honestly, my newest piece may be another smaller story. I like telling stories, and as stupid as this sounds, I don’t really control which ones I need to get out of my head at any given moment. I’d rather accept a lack of relative popularity and continue with writing what I see and experience. That said, a lot of you have been waiting for GBM to continue for too long, in some cases longer than it took for Being More Social, so maybe I should hurry up with that story too, at least, and finish it before making too many standalone stories. The bottom line is, pay attention to how you write. Don’t make your stories too short, or too long. It can have unforeseen consequences. I’ll talk to you all next week.