Shortly after posting Mutual Benefits Chapter 11, I got a few really good insightful pieces of criticism from Literotica readers specifically. Normally when I receive anything a cynic might interpret as “negative,” it’s usually people who say my chapters come out too infrequently – not too much to be done on that front until the day I do this full-time, I’m afraid. This time, I received a bit of pushback on the pacing of the chapter and how the stakes aren’t too high. The story is largely pre-planned at this point, so I’m both happy knowing stakes will get higher in future chapters, but also trying to take these criticisms into account. I will do my best to pace future chapters better.
I feel bad for one particular commenter, because it’s going to look like their criticism is going to fall on deaf ears. They had said that not a lot of events happened in this chapter and that, as a result, it felt a lot like ‘filler.’ This is a very fair and frankly true criticism, to a lot of critical eyes. The only problem I now face isn’t “I made an error, how shall I fix this,” it’s instead, “This was done intentionally, but how many people didn’t like this?”
It’s true, this chapter wasn’t meant to showcase any pivotal events. I didn’t exactly plan for “the gym scene” to be the climactic event of the story (in either sense of the word, since we’re talking about erotica here). As well, Mutual Benefits is meant to be a lot more low-stakes than something like Being More Social, which, coincidentally, was criticized for having too many high-stakes events. I can’t speak for any of my readers, but I saw this chapter as a “between the ears” chapter – it still had themes and important moments, but they weren’t in what people did or even said. This chapter was meant to emphasize that the possible threesome route some readers thought this story was going down isn’t really in the cards for Quinn. It was meant to showcase that Morgan was sentimental with Quinn when alone with him, but nearly as reckless as Taylor when all three of them hung out. (And if that leaves you saying, “Wait, that actually says a lot more about Taylor’s motives than Morgan’s,” gold star.)
The best way to tell what people’s personalities are like is to observe them during daily life, not when some huge climactic moment is happening. If there was a fire at the gym or Taylor suddenly fell pregnant or something, that would certainly be an event, but the way the characters acted would be centered around the event. Without the event, there is only the personality, acting as it always does. I wanted to use the chapter to showcase that. I’m not saying the criticism is wrong, but I’m instead apologizing for not changing my course for anyone that might feel like the chapter was filler. That’s the intent. Mutual Benefits is a slice-of-life that is unquestionably way lower-stakes than my other works. If you don’t like that, good news, this is a departure from my style if anything. I have no doubt I’ll return to soap operas and life-changing events soon.
There are rules in the world of writing. Almost every single one is arbitrary and can be thrown out when you’ve written enough. “Always establish characters before plot,” “avoid clichés,” “keep your writing as short and sweet as possible.” Boring. If we wrote according to the rules, we would never feel like we’re entering a new world when reading a new story for the tenth time or so. The commenter pointing out that this chapter is filler is correct, but what I do with that information sets me on a path. There are ways I can keep with the themes I described above and still make the pacing better, which is something I plan to do. Hopefully I succeed. At the same time… what can I say? Filler is interesting to me. Life is filler 90% of the time. I want to write about life. I’ll talk to you all next week.