Friday, June 25, 2010

Mystifying Comments

I like comments. I get them regularly on stories and email feedback. Mostly they're positive and it's great encouragement to know there are people out there reading and enjoying my stories.

I don't mind negative feedback either. If it's constructive then I'll take it on board and look to improve my writing. If it's crazy rant about how my soul is damned for consorting with demons I'll have a good chuckle. (I don't get enough of those - I'm not trying hard enough)

Then there's this for SS 201 which puzzled me:

"The opening of the first series was amazing.
This one was just OK, and seems to have plot holes.
But hoping it will find magic the 1st series had."

Plot holes, damn. Better get those filled. It's a shame the comment was anonymous as I'd have liked to have got back to the author to find out either which bit they'd misread or which bit I'd screwed up.

I had a similar comment halfway through the Succubus Summoning 101 series that reminded me two bodies were found at the end of the first chapter, which is possible as the first story was originally written as a single short story and the rest of the series just sort of happened. Thankfully for Phil's long term future, the comment writer had misread/recalled the first chapter as I ended up with Dahl describing Phil and Jake as missing.

That's not to say I'm infallible. Usually I plan out stories with meticulous precision, but the Succubus Summoning series sort of lurches to where it wants. It's also probably why the series actually exists while all the other meticulously planned out novel ideas never reached a computer screen, but that's probably a subject for another post.

As Succubus Summoning is a little chaotic, it means I'm probably going to screw up and forget something (usually the Japanese style mini-wings the succubi are supposed to have growing out of the side of their head) or get something wrong. Hopefully someone will let me know where or what without me being left scratching my head in confusion over which bit went wrong. :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The bane of online writers... Civilization IV.

Wait, no, that's not what I wanted to talk about.

Formatting. Bloody formatting. Try and move anything that isn't a basic letter or piece of punctuation from one computer application to another and watch it get mangled into something incomprehensible.

I kind of expect it for Cέrμləa. She's... complicated, and I got a bit silly with the special characters to reflect that (which are probably even now being lovingly rendered as '?''s by your browser).

Special characters are a pain in the ass. Even simple things like emdashes and Verdé's 'é'. You never quite know how they'll get rendered.

While Literotica is the main site I post my stories, I also use Stories Online. They don't have as large a readership as Lit, but they post fast (usually a couple of hours) and I often get good feedback emails. I haven't posted on SOL for a few months. I was going to fix this with Succubus Summoning 201 but when I converted the file to plain text Verdé became Verd? and other weirdness occured. On most machines plain text can handle (some) special characters.

And it would on mine, except I tinkered with the language settings in order to display Japanese characters for games like Succubus Quest 2. It's kind of cool to save documents as plain text and see random Japanese symbols appear in the text, but not so useful when I need to post the thing for people to read.

Non-universal text formats, grr...

Civilization IV (or any Civilization game for that matter) is still the bane of all creative process.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sources of Inspiration: #1 Artwork

If anyone's ever wondered where the ideas for the stories come from, the answer is there's a big black pool of sludge sitting in the back of mind. I don't like to look too deep inside it - I'm afraid of what I might find in the depths - but occasionally ideas bubble up to the surface like bubbles of noxious gas.

Yep, as pretentious and wangsty as I thought it'd read.

I get inspiration from all sorts of places. Let's start with the artwork.

Monster-girls Uploader is full of various monster-girl pics.

I love the Japanese; they're completely crazy. One of my goals is to write stories that are as equally wierd and bizarre as Japanese films/anime/manga. Every time I think I'm getting close I come across something else that blows my mind with its warped audacity and realise I've still got a way to go in the insanity erotica stakes.

The MGU board started mainly as fansite for the Monster Girl Encyclopedia entries of Kenkou Cross. It's also a good resource for other succubus/monster girls artwork. They've recently moved so the picture threads are in the process of building back up again. There's also plenty of fanfics, some of which should be looking for a wider audience.

Hentai foundry also has the occasional gorgeous succubus pic show up from time to time.

Deviant Art goes without saying. I don't check it as frequently as I should because it's so freaking large.

Like everything on the internet, the quality is variable but there are gems around if you look hard enough.

I'm not lying about that big pool of sludge at the back of my head. I don't ask; I just fish 'em out and type them down.

Monday, June 07, 2010

That proof-reading/reviewing process

Last week I got round to proof-reading the second collection of short stories I submitted to eXcessica.

I find this a useful exercise aside from the obvious benefit of eliminating all the typos and other mistakes that slipped through with the first submission (Some, but thankfully not that many). This is the first time I get to review the anthology and see how it hangs together. It might sound strange considering I wrote the stories in the first place, but while actually writing the stories it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of letters and punctuation and lose sight of the whole story.

Coming back to the stories after a few months gives me a chance to reflect on what worked and what still needs improvement. At this point it’s too late to break out the pen (or word processor) to make changes bigger than correcting spelling mistakes and the like, which is as it should be. There has to be a point when you accept a story is complete, warts and all, otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life rewriting and rewriting the same five pages over and over again. Better to let it loose and apply what you’ve learned to the next creation.

Seeing the first collection, “A Succubus for Christmas” (out this October), at this stage was a huge relief. First and foremost my aim is to write erotica, but it’s nice when some of the stories are also nice little horror stories in their own right. I was especially happy the brand new original novella I wrote exclusively for the collection was good and did not suck as I feared it might while struggling to scratch down all ten thousand words of it.

There are more brand new stories in the second collection, “A Succubus for Valentine’s Day”, and I was also a bit more active in retuning some of the old stories. Although in one case maybe not active enough, but that’s what a learning process is. The new stories came out okay. I think I was maybe a little too cynical on one and a bit too eager with the anvil dropping. Another tick in the column of things to watch out for in future. Another story turns out sweet and nice (a rarity for me), is a good solid story, but is just missing that little bit of heat so important in erotica.

That’s not to say the stories are bad, but I’m always on the lookout for things that could be better. Even for something like “A Summer Dance with a Succubus”, which is one of those beautiful things for a storyteller—a flash of inspiration that drops perfectly into place as a tale.

The existing story I tinkered with the most was the title piece. The original ending is deliberately unpleasant—the see-saw tipped more to horror—but that wasn’t enough. Based on feedback I saw a possibility for something even worse and went for it. I still don’t think I quite nailed it, but that might be a good thing considering what I was aiming for was to rip the reader’s heart out of their chest and leave it beating in a pile of bloody gore on the table in front of them.

I’m really a nice person when you get to know me. Honest.

Anyway, if Valentine’s Day is normally a time of the year that fills you with a sense of nausea over the mass-marketed, cloying sentimentality that infects everything, then I’ll have the antidote for you right here. Boy, do I have an antidote.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Jupiter's Cock!!!

Hehe. Started watching Spartacus: Blood and Sand recently. It's refreshing to see a TV series that comprehensibly flicks two fingers up at family-friendly viewing and ratchets the exploitation dial to past eleven. I'm not really bothered by the critical merits, or lack of them. It's entertainment. It's got blood, boobs and some hilariously fruity dialogue. My inner sixteen-year-old approves heartily.

It's got me thinking I should get that sex-gladiator idea I've had kicking around in my head for the past few months down on paper:

Sex Fighters: 13 porn stars are abducted from Earth and forced to battle a range of deliciously sexy and deadly monster girls in gladiatorial sex combat.

Now that's a pitch!

If only I had the artistic drawing skills and command of the Japanese language to find it a home.

I suspect Esqeta will inevitably return in "Gladiator vs Succubus" to outfox another stereotypical hero-type (always did feel a bit sorry for the knight though... there may be some loose ends still to be tied with that tale)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bad Blogger

I'm not really getting the hang of this blogging thing.

I'm sure I'm supposed to update this thing more frequently than every ten days or however long it is at the moment.

Probably doesn't help that every time I have an idea for a post it starts to come out like a horribly complicated essay and then I get frustrated and leave the thing on the side like a wretched abortion.

Oh well, practise I guess. Practise. Practise. Practise. Write. Write. Write.