Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Advice for Writers

Several folks already know that, while I am a pervert by night, during the day I work as an editor, and have for several years now. I fix copy, I write copy, I work with new writers. A lot. This doesn't make me infallible, but it does make me cringe at some of the inflation fiction I read and some of the choices I see writers make, both in terms of their actual writing and their choices for or against doing certain things with their work. If I may, here's some free advice for anybody doing the story thing:
  • Yes, you are good enough to write a story. Self-doubt is the first hurdle. A bad night of surfing for inflatable porn is better than a good day at work. Even if your work sucks, I still want to read it.
  • There are no new ideas. Don't let that stop you. Pick magic or science or wishes or aliens or accidents or whatever--it's been done. But do it again anyway, because you are all we have in this community, and we really appreciate your efforts.
  • You don't have to have a fully formed epic at the start. Write what interests you--write the money shot, if that's all you have in your head--and release it as a vignette. Short and solid is better than huge and pointless.
  • If you're stuck for inspiration, try writing a sequel to an existing story, or write a story about one of your favorite morphs/drawings. It's best to ask permission in these cases, but more often than not, the original creator will be flattered that you like their work enough to expand upon it.
  • If you are writing a story based on some obscure TV show or anime or comic book, very few people will "get" it. You must explain everything as if you were not using those characters--this can't be a shorthand to "oh, good, I can skip character development," because you can't. At the same time, don't bore the snot out of them with backstory, either; if they wanted to watch the series or read the comic, they would. I know anime has a big following in the US, but it's a generational thing, and the older folks don't get it. But they would still like to enjoy a well-told story, and you need to fill in the gaps without trying to get them to buy the videotapes of your favorite series just to understand who's blowing up whom.
  • Spell check is good. Use it, but it's not foolproof by any means. It's better to read the story out loud to yourself; anything that is awkward will jump right out at you. I do this all the time with my non-pervy stuff and it is the ultimate fixer-upper. If you can read it to someone else, all the better, but given the nature of this stuff, it's understandable if you can't exactly find a pair of willing ears.
  • Use www.dictionary.com and www.m-w.com. There is absolutely no shame in using reference works and nobody remembers all the rules all the time. The dictionary is there so you don't have to memorize it.
  • Don't forget the payoff. One of the first big mistakes I made with non-pervy writing was neglecting to actually write the key scene that tied everything else together. I see a lot of inflation writers spend forever setting up characters and dialogue and place and stuff, all of which is to be commended--but then there's no payoff, no really detailed expansion scene. It's like, describing the room and describing the hairstyles is easier than describing the inflation--and I really don't think many people are reading inflation fiction for the hairstyles. Spend time tweaking all your adjectives and make sure that the most well-illustrated part of your story is the climax. It should probably be the first thing you write and the last thing you tweak, with lots of editing passes in-between.
  • Post your story where the people are. Especially if you are a new writer, release a few of your stories (with requests for feedback) to the popular Yahoo groups (Inflatality, etc) and the usual places like The Overflowing Bra. This is where the audience already is. It's foolish and arrogant to create a Yahoo group in your honor before you even release a story. And yet...people have done exactly that. Don't.
  • Don't expect a ton of feedback on your work. Our community is a quiet, greedy bunch, and they often only speak up to complain. One note of thanks is worth about 20 pairs of eyes. And if you are writing something that isn't one of the Stories That Have Already Been Written, expect even less feedback, because you may not find the other people who appreciate the topic the way you do right away. It may take time for your story to get out there.
  • Do it because you want to do it, not for the praise. If you liked writing it, that is really all that matters. I do not recommend writing inflatable fiction to get "famous."
That's all my brain is dumping out for the moment. Go for it.

1 comment:

Blake Isaac Gordon said...

It's better to read the story out loud to yourself; anything that is awkward will jump right out at you.

I have to say this excellent advice. The best thing for editing a story.