“How do you plan out your plots? How do you make everything fit together nicely?”
I really don’t.
After posting When In Toronto to some other websites, a couple of authors from those sites got in contact (or in some cases, re-established contact) with me to talk about writing, advice on writing, etc. It was, in many cases, a two-way street and I got to learn a lot about what I need to keep in mind when writing, as well as how other erotica writers go about writing. But it also became clear that reading my stories makes it come across like I know what I’m doing, and, uh… nope.
For those of you who have read a lot of my past blogs, you know that I see writing as a spectator activity – my imagination shows me what happens with characters I create, and I quickly jot it down, as if I were writing down events friends are doing in front of me.
“Does that make the sex scenes kind of voyeuristic and weird for you?” Yes. A lot of the time, yes.
This comes with benefits and downsides. The benefits are that I don’t have to sit there wondering what’ll come next when I’m in the mood, I’m never torn between choices of where to take the story when I know deep down how it should go, and it makes writing a lot more fun during the exciting parts. The downsides are, not being inspired or being stressed creates this intense writer’s block-like situation, my brain isn’t perfect and continuity is basically inevitable, editing and changing the story afterwards feels a lot like lying to myself, and I feel a lot of the negative emotions of my usually sad writing. Oops.
One writer refused to believe this as true for me, pointing out that to them, my writing follows a lot of conventions that writers usually exhibit when planning out their writing. I asked him what he meant and he pointed out the drum room from Being More Social.
In Being More Social, the first story I wrote under this name, there’s a part where Adam and Nicole, the two protagonists of the story, go to a party hosted by their friend Phil. Near the beginning of the party, Adam is showing some symptoms of his anxiety, and Nicole, in response to this, shows Adam a room that is soundproof from the rest of the house and acts as a haven for him, Phil’s drum room. She establishes his this room essentially exists separate from the rest of the house and that it means something to Phil. All of these established themes come into play when the drum room is used for the second time, where a couple main characters get into a heated debate and need somewhere in this crowded loud house to be separate from the rest of the party. To an onlooker, it was clear I introduced the drum room to be used later on to help advance the story.
When he presented this evidence to me, I really didn’t have anything to say. This was largely because, I didn’t plan that. It happened years ago but as I remember, I included the drum room on a whim because Nicole felt genuinely bad for Adam and his anxiety and my mind invented this place where he could cool down in case the party became too much for him. It was coincidence it was used later, but what reader would ever buy that a really specific place happened to be introduced for no reason, and then happened to be useful to the plot later?
The odds aren’t great here. People can believe what they want; I have enough weird drama scandals involving my name that one person’s opinion of “you definitely made the drum room on purpose” isn’t the hill I need to die on. However, this definitely makes me re-evaluate my subconscious, and makes me wonder if even when the writer isn’t deliberately consciously planning, their subconscious is. Maybe my mind knew but wouldn’t tell me that the party would be disrupted and told me to include a room to have this fight in, not informing me at the time that it would come in handy later. Given it’s my subconscious, and I can’t tap into it, all I can do here is speculate, but it definitely makes me read other erotic works differently.
For example, if a lot of writers operate like me, this would excuse a lot of the authors I’ve berated for sticking to one style, fetish, style of sex, etc. Maybe they want to create new stories or even think they’re creating new stories, and yet are re-hashing the same one over and over. A few people have called out a few phrases that my characters use over and over that “no one uses.” My vocabulary is definitely unique to me and perhaps that vocabulary betrays me sometimes in my writing. Maybe a lot of my sex scenes are too similar. Damn, I hope not.
I don’t think it does the author too much good to over-analyze their own work word-by-word and figure out their own intentions, even their own subconscious’ intentions. For now, the existence of my inner workings is in itself a fascinating enough thought for me. If you’re a writer, by all means either hold a mirror up to your writing as often as you want, or just keep writing and enjoying stories without a care in the world. All that matters is the enjoyment of stories, one way or another. I’ll talk to you all next week.
One thought on “The Drum Room”
“Maybe my mind knew but wouldn’t tell me that the party would be disrupted and told me to include a room to have this fight in, not informing me at the time that it would come in handy later.”
Very interesting insight into the – or at least your – creative process. Thanks.
I think it’s a mark of success in a plot when something laid down at an early stage becomes important later. Detective story writers do this deliberately, of course, but I think it happens a lot more. An example that you may or may not like, but I found it significant. If you read the first Harry Potter story (I know, I know, but I’ll insist that even if you don’t like her style JK Rowling is a superb plotter) there are all sorts of little details that seem to be there just to ‘add verisimilitude’ as they say. But if you reach the end of the saga nearly all of them turn out to have quite deep significance, or at least resonance, in completing the story. There are three possibilities: 1) JKR plottd the whole series in her mind in so much detail that she could plant all these little clues (that’s the official version but I don’t completely believe it); 2) that when writing the later volumes she looked through the earlier ones and thought ‘Oh I could use that’ – a bit like if when you needed a quiet space you scrolled back a bit and saw that you could use the drum room. Possible, but I have my doubts. And 3) that there was some sense in which the story itself wanted these little seeds that could flower later – in other words her subconscious.
We are none of us completely in control of our thoughts – we would be pretty much robots if we were – and the ability to open your internal censor and let the thoughts out in a way that brings pleasure and some form of enlightenment to others is the mark of a successful writer, like you.
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