So, I’ve been waffling back and forth between two story ideas, since finishing the first draft of my (still unnamed) cyberpunk story. One is a Christmas story intended for submission to Dreamspinner for next year’s Advent Calendar anthology. (Yes, it’s already open for submission.) The other is just a light-hearted sex romp.
The Christmas story began as a light comedy, but as I’ve developed the story further, it’s taken on a bittersweet romantic tone. It has a happy ending, but as things got weirder in the story, I decided I wanted to mull it over a bit more, before writing it. The sex romp — a story of two college roommates who agree to have sex in a porn video, tentatively called Zack and Larry Make a Porno — caught my interest, sheerly because it promised a bunch of raunchy fun. So, that’s the one I’m currently working on.
Yes, I know — when Erich heard the title, he didn’t exactly groan, but he gave me an I-don’t-know-about-that-one look and said, “Something tells me, I’ve heard that title before.” I assured him I’m covered under parody law. I’m not sure I’ll use it, anyway. But I probably will use the names Zack and Larry, so anyone familiar with the brilliant Kevin Smith film will get the joke.
The story brings up another matter that’s been bothering me, though. I don’t mind writing fluff…I guess. But I like to think that my stories — even the ones with sex in them — are first and foremost good stories. If they contain sex, then the sex is just something extra. But it could be removed without damaging the story. This, to me, is the distinction between erotic stories and porn. I don’t mind porn, but I don’t think that’s really what I want to be known for. I want people to read my stories and be caught up in the plot and the characters, and generally in the romance. If someone happens to enjoy the sex scenes in the stories, great. But that’s not my primary goal.
Is Zack and Larry more than just a loose framework for a bunch of porn scenes? I wish I knew. I have to admit, I’m enjoying the story because it’s raunchy. But does it have any other redeeming value?
I’m reminded of the explicit sex scene in John Cameron Mitchell’s Short Bus, in which Jamie, James and Ceth attempt a threesome. The scene has to be explicit, because the humor revolves around the awkwardness of the situation, and the fact that our heroes have no idea what to stick where. The scene is hilarious, and more importantly, it demonstrates how James and Jamie are trying desperately to save their relationship. That’s what raises an explicit sex scene above the level of pornography: it’s an intrinsic part of the story.
Hopefully, as I write it, the characters in Zack and Larry will take on a life of their own and there will be something going on between them that makes the story worth reading…as something other than masturbation material.
In other news, more reviews have come in for both The Christmas Wager and The Meaning of Vengeance. Some good; some not so good. The two worst reviews were 3 out of 5 stars, and both reviewers seemed to like the stories.
The comment on The Christmas Wager was that it was “delightful,” but the major plot twists seemed forced. This is, perhaps, a valid criticism. I was less concerned with the plot in that story (which is, admittedly, rather formulaic) than I was with the romance developing between Thomas and Andrew. This is, in fact, the real story. It’s this story arc which requires action on the part of our heroes, in order to resolve successfully. The story of the wager itself is resolved fairly easily.
The 3 star review on Vengeance was a little harder to fathom. Apparently, he had thought the story was about the mafia, based upon its title, and that had intrigued him. So he thought it was okay, but it wasn’t what he’d hoped it would be. That’s fine, but it seems odd to me to read a story intended for a particular audience, then mark it down specifically because it was intended for that audience. I didn’t write Vengeance for people who like stories about the mafia. I wrote it for people who like Vikings.
On the plus side, The Christmas Wager has received two 5 star reviews from people who don’t generally like historicals, but fell in love with the characters.