Writing for Readers

I’m both a reader and writer; more of the former than latter. I’ve always maintained that there is no such genre as fiction, primarily because actual fictional prose would be incomprehensible. Not so much in terms of language or syntax — even that makes sense when done correctly — but in the shared human existence. When we read, we filter the story through our own biases and empirical history. Even if we have no relevant parallel to the narrative, we can still imagine the scenario and empathize with the fictional characters.

As a writer, the question becomes: Do you write ‘what you know’, or create an entire landscape with no semblance to reality? The most successful books, screenplays and movies, are either lushly detailed fantasies set in exotic realms far away, or romantic struggles that echo the common frustration and exhilaration of finding that special life-partner. “Know your audience” is drummed into every hack that has ever put stylus to papyrus. There is no magic formula for writing; just hard work and placing word after word until the manuscript is completed.

Last year at this time, I was working on a short story for a Sexy Little Pages submission called “Corrupted”. The editor, Charlie Powell, broadcast the following information.

“Since the beginning of time, everything has been promised to liberate women has also been accused of corrupting them. Think suffrage, trousers, the pill, the internet, feminism, learning to drive, owning a house, having a bank account, working… Or, more recently, alcohol consumption and selfie culture. I’m looking for fresh and sexy takes on these issues, along with anything else that women have been criticised for doing.”

I started blocking out a plot, who, where, when and why. The lead character is in the title: Ghosting past Emily. As always, that came first. The ghosting refers not to specters haunting a dark mansion, but the practice of deliberately — and without warning — dropping all electronic contact with someone.

The place, San Francisco. Silicon Valley. Emily is in tech, not programming though. She’s Japanese-American, another strike, and lastly, a dominatrix on the side. All the ingredients needed to raise the hackles of white male dominated corporations. The irony is, this was written before that bastion of power and sex started to crumble under the relentless onslaught of pissed off women.

My short story of 3,900 words was accepted for inclusion in September, 2017 and Ghosting past Emily is now available for pre-order from Amazon Kindle for $3.99. The publication date for the Corrupted anthology is March 8th, 2018.

byron-cane

I didn’t choose the sentence in the graphic, by the way. I’m unsure as to how much if any of my story I can share, so for now, that will have to do.

The Envelope please…

The first round of Smut Marathon 2018 is now complete, and the results of the voting are in. You can read the complete post here, but I wanted to share my entry — legal now per the rules — and where my erotic metaphor placed in the totals out of the 75 entries.

I was surprised how few readers actually voted, only 162 were tabulated. That’s an order of magnitude that should be at least 100 times higher. I was hoping for votes in the tens of thousands. My entry is towards the bottom of the pack, but I’m still happy with what I wrote.

6) Quenched

Lust is a fiery blast furnace; vaginal walls a silken vise squeezing erect steel rods, tempering the spermatozoal geysers jetting potential life in the primordial cauldron that is passion’s fury.

The second round secret assignment is also open today and will close on March, 3rd 2018. The voting for the second round will begin on Sunday, March 4th, 2018 and close on Saturday, March 10th, 2018. After the results of the second round are tabulated, the writers receiving the fewest votes combined for the first two rounds will be eliminated. According to the rules, the total number of eligible writers will be reduced from 75 to 40 for rounds 3 and 4.

Now the polls are open: Smut aweigh!

The first round of writing has now closed and voting is available at this link here. Between Sunday, Feb 11th and Saturday, Feb 17th, you can read all 75 entries for Round 1 of Smut Marathon 2018. All the entries are anonymous — mine included — and your task as a voter, is to choose the top three that best meets the assignment. Please consider leaving feedback for the authors, your comments will be posted after the polls close.

Writer’s Assignment Round 1: Write an Erotic Metaphor
Specific requirements:
– only one sentence
– give your text a one-word title
– your text with the metaphor is a maximum of 30 words (excluding title)

Writers are not allowed to tell anyone which entry they have written!
You can only vote once.
The voting round closes on 17 February 2018 at 23.00 CET
Results of the voting round will be published on this site on 18 February 2018 and then will announce the author of each metaphor.

A “FREE” spanking? Cool.

For a very limited time, a few days only, you can download The Case of the Disciplined Valentine to any ereader device for FREE. If you love vampires, sex, Victorian-era romance, steampunk, spanking and other forms of delicious discipline, then take this opportunity to grab some alone time and read your way to…. err, bliss.

Take a sensual journey on over to Amazon by clicking this link, and be transported to steampunk London, where it is early February in the year 1854 and a certain vampire is about to come face-to-face with a most exasperating and intriguing female. And then he meets his Valentine.

A comedy of Victorian manners mixed with delicious spankings and sexual encounters guaranteed to raise even a vampire’s blood pressure, Byron Cane sets a torrid pace in his historical paranormal erotic novella.

It is 1854 in steampunk London, and Sir Nachton MacRath is warily returning to his home isle after decades abroad. He has good reasons to steer clear of the Royal Family, but is immediately snared by the Queen herself, who anoints him, Her Chastiser of Loose Morals, complete with elevation to the upper reaches of the aristocracy. Rather than a quiet existence as a vampire, he is now a Peer uneasily rubbing shoulders with the most powerful men in the Empire.

Phoebe Hayward is a lady of good breeding, but like all her contemporaries, longs for some excitement and romance. Valentine’s Day is only weeks away, when their paths cross with a bump. Despite later discovering the man ordered to discipline her is actually a vampire, she can’t help falling in love. The more encounters with Sir MacRath she makes, the more her body yearns to know what it is to submit to his vampiric touch. When he reluctantly agrees to be her Valentine, thus begins a Domination and discipline the likes she’s never dreamed.

MacRath doesn’t feel he deserves Phoebe’s love, and attempts to push her away by taking her deeper into sexual submission. She surprises him — and herself — by eagerly submitting to his every desire.Together, they explore the sensual heights that a woman and a man — a vampire — can reach. But politics and conflict are never far away, and the Valentine’s Day deadline comes all too soon.

The Case of the Disciplined Valentine
The Case of the Disciplined Valentine

Disclaimer: The Case of the Disciplined Valentine, with minor changes, is the same novella as previously published in the Lust in Lace anthology, as Sir MacRath Thrashes his Valentine. If you have already purchased the anthology in ebook or audio book, then there is no need to purchase it again… unless you want to financially support me. 🙂

 

The truth about editing

It sucks.

I mean; it really sucks.

You work really hard on a story, send it to someone, and they go; “Meh”.

I write a variety of things; poetry, essays, flash fiction, short stories and long-format novellas and novels. But no matter how meticulous I craft my narrative and characters, there is always room for improvement. The key is finding the right editor.

For me, it’s Ina Morata of Clarian Press. She has a keen intellect and an extensive depth to both grammar and vocabulary [albeit of the English-English language variety, which leads to interesting discussions when Americanisms crop up] along with a historical literary provenance, that creates a template for how a story should read.

The most important lesson I’ve learned from having my work edited by numerous people, is that the only goal an author should have, is to seek the best possible result. If an edit makes for a better book, then make the change and don’t mourn your original efforts.

Nearly as important though as a writer, is to find your ‘voice’; the style in which you are most proficient. That voice needs to be a solid base so that no matter how much editing is done, it is still recognizable as your own. A good editor trims the excess, prunes back the prose so that new growth and grafts make the finished product even more fruitful. Writing is not about word count, it is about making each word important and integral to the story.

I always start my long-format fiction in flash style. I think of it as splashing paint on a canvas. It’s not meant to be perfect, or even coherent. It’s an experiment to see if the characters and plot have potential. The more you write, the more you cast off. There’s nothing wrong with that. Always seeking the perfect first draft is guaranteed to make it impossible to ever finish anything. Imperfection is not only inevitable, but essential to editing.

What I call a first draft is a misnomer. Before I submit a piece of fiction, long or short, the manuscript has normally been ‘edited’ by myself at least a dozen times. I swap chapters, change tenses, substitute narrative for dialog and vice-versa. My style, my voice, has developed into exploring the emotional bonds we create and the consequences of our actions. I don’t fill in the background normally; the physical aspects of the characters, the detailed clothing or places they inhabit. I enjoy reading books that do so, but for me, as a writer, I don’t think in those terms when creating.

A good editor partners with the author by taking that first draft, reading it, then breaking it down into various components. Keep. Change. Discard. While ultimately the decision remains with the author, by explaining the whys, an editor guides the prose into becoming stronger and better. The mantra, “If it makes a better book, any change is good”, is very helpful in taking personality and emotion out of the process. Which leads back to the title of this post.

The truth about editing, is that it is extremely difficult and fraught with feeling: if you allow yourself to believe your first draft is perfect. It’s not. It’s only a starting point. Having other eyes read your work can be intimidating, but the payoff can be a spectacular result.

Happy writing,

Byron Cane