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So you want to write stories…

  • Posted on August 30, 2016 at 2:23 pm

By Cheryl Taggert

Hello again, dear readers. Yes, it’s that young (isn’t almost 34 still young?) woman who obsesses about writing again. Recently, I finished writing chapter 50 of I Was the Daughter of a Porn Star, and I commented on the site that I had completed that much of the book, despite the fact that the work has been posted only through chapter 43, as of this writing. (Chapter 44 posted the day after I wrote the first draft of this blog entry, which I am now working on to improve.)

Then something occurred to me. Most readers think once a first draft is done, that’s all there is to it. The fact is, the work has just begun. There is so much more that will take place with that chapter before you, the reader, see it. Some of our readers will submit a story to us, and we will make suggestions. Usually, these suggestions are seen for what they are — our attempt to make what is a good story better. Other times the author will not be willing to tackle a re-write for a variety of reasons, and that is fine as well. Life sometimes gets in the way of writing for many people, especially in this genre if the author’s significant other is, shall we say, unaware of the author’s fantasy life as it regards our type of erotica. However, rarely do we post a story if the author is not willing to fix what we see as some problems with the work. In fact, I don’t recall that we ever have. The truth is we all experience those problems when writing, and if we want it to be good, we take the time to do the re-writes.

I teach English in the U.S. to seventh graders, or young students who are probably reaching their 12th or 13th birthdays at some point during their school year with me. One thing that is certain is that as writing students (part of my curriculum involves writing), the hardest lesson my students learn is that a first draft is good for two things, and two things only: several re-writes or the trash bin. I say this because a first draft that does not see at least some editing is worthy of the trash bin. On the other hand, a first draft that undergoes several close readings with corrections, deletions, and additions to the text will usually garner a good grade for my students, or in my case, a good chapter or story, or at least one that is better than it was after the initial draft was written.

I am fortunate enough to have two very good authors who function as my “readers” to help me improve my writing for this site. They are, in essence, my editors, just as I am one of their editors. Before it is posted, they read what I’ve written, and I read what they’ve written, and we all make suggestions to improve the work. Sometimes I will reject a suggestion and provide a reason why I am rejecting it, as do my partners. The explanation is nearly always accepted and we move on.

Here are some examples of actual notes I have received from Naughty Mommy and JetBoy. They would include, before the comment, a copied and pasted sentence or three that is the subject of their note to me, which I am leaving out since I don’t want you to see what is sometimes some awful writing on my part:

  1. The first part of the second sentence is clunky. I suggest something like… (A suggestion of a re-write is noted here, and if I agree with the note, I will either use the suggestion or something else will occur to me that I think is even better than the suggestion.)
  2. You have “as” three times in the last sentence.
  3. This sentence feels somewhat clumsy… but a simple rearrangement of the words will make it right.
  4. Suggest streamlining this by cutting “the man who is,” to eliminate repetition.
  5. Two very similar references to getting into trouble… I’d change one of ‘em.

These are only five notes from only ONE of my partners/editors, and they all concern only one chapter. There were a total of ten notes on this chapter from this person (who shall remain unnamed, even though it is one of two people).

I ended up rejecting the last note in the list above because of what, exactly, I wanted to emphasize in the sentence/paragraph. We are always free to disagree with a note as long as we have a good reason for it. I explained myself and received an email agreeing with my decision.

Here are a few more, just to show you we sometimes write things that are less than stellar.

  1. This was somewhat difficult to parse. My suggestion is to revise it as… (Again, a suggestion was offered here.)
  2. There’s a word or two missing here, I think, after ‘how’. Also, you have four sentences in a row in that paragraph starting with ‘She’.
  3. I was mystified at first by this sentence, unable to figure out who the ‘mother’ was. It took a minute for me to recall the characters and relationships. My suggestion is to either offer a little more help to the reader there, or simply remove the second half of the sentence altogether. The latter might be best. Stick with the story instead of the distracting aside.

As you can see, overuse of a word or phrase is often a problem for me. I can’t tell you how many times I get a note similar to the second part of #2 above or #’s 2 and 4 in the first set. This happens because sometimes I am writing quickly and not really thinking about how I’m wording something. I just want to get the basics of the plot down before the situation along with what I’m wanting to do with it disappears from my brain, which can happen when you are thinking quickly about something and your mind is racing along at breakneck speed. (At least I hope my mind is doing that, which is an element of when I am “in the zone” as a writer, where the story seems to be writing itself.) Therefore, such problems are to be expected by any author.

All three of the chapter notes in the second set of suggestions above were dead on, as were the other three notes this person wrote that I didn’t share. When I looked at what I had written, I was in complete agreement with the notes. Of course, we sometimes get right to the point with each other because we have learned to work together and we know that we each respect each other’s writing immensely. The notes above are examples of just how direct we are with each other. I like that about my colleagues. They don’t tiptoe around me, they get to the point. If it’s clunky, clumsy, or difficult to follow, they tell me without mincing words. I appreciate the direct honesty from them. Furthermore, I feel I am a much better writer than I was a year ago because of our association.

Someone (sorry, I forget who) once said that writing is what takes place somewhere between the fourth and fifth re-write. I know exactly what that person meant. So please know that we take time with our stories and chapters to try to make them as perfect as we can. If you wish to submit a story to us, we will take you along on that wonderful ride called true writing.

It’s sometimes a scary ride, like a big roller coaster, but when it’s done you realize what a blast you had.

So keep writing! There are many stories yet to tell.

(A brief “P.S.” here to lend my words credibility: I have returned to this blog entry five times to edit it before it was posted, one of those times because a colleague shared a comment he/she felt needed to be addressed, which led to more tweaks by me.)