I’m juggling several projects – one of which I think of as “my erotic epic” – and so this post is simply me thinking aloud here about what I should do next. Some years back, I jumped in to Milida’s collaborative interactive fiction piece over at Writing.com, “Arabian Nights Gender Changing World,” which explores the various fates of John Lemure in an Arabian Nights virtual reality game. I had a small idea for a short story arc that pushed my buttons, and started writing chapters. Soon after I started, I had an idea for a plot that would make something more of it, and I noted down about ten short bullet points. And from there it grew.
Real life interrupted me, more than a year ago now, and I haven’t yet picked up my quill and continued the story. The last time I attempted to, I realised I had so many threads going that if I didn’t go back and re-read and summarise what had happened so far, I was going to introduce all sorts of continuity errors. So I started making a chapter-by-chapter summary to get it straight in my own head once again.
The story itself is probably way too long, and is meant just for pleasure – it’s not a deep intellectual piece, nor does it explore any notable moral ideas. It’s purely for fun. I think it will probably work, at that: being unashamedly just a “pleasure piece,” if you know what I mean (wink wink, nudge nudge). I don’t think there’s too much repetition, though poor old John (in my story arc) does keep getting into and out of variants of the same situation. A bit like the Perils of Pauline in that respect, I suppose: repetition with variation, except with changes accumulating and plots deepening, of course. So for an erotic piece, maybe the fact that it is long might even work in its favour?
“How long,” I imagine a few people asking?
Well, I think the plot is nearing completion. Writing.com limits each single interactive fiction contribution to about 10k characters (under 2k words), and I mostly pushed up against that for each piece. I’ve written about 200 parts of the story so far, and should wrap up in another 40 or so. Collected together as a single MS, it is currently just under 300k words. Which if published as a printed book would be approaching a thousand pages long – currently.
So, here’s where I start musing. The version I’ve been putting up on writing.com is basically a first draft, and I was planning to finish it off, polish and improve it, maybe add a little more, and then publish it. But a thousand pages or more? That’d be a daunting read. And I probably wouldn’t finish writing it until around the end of 2016, so it would also be a long wait. As well, very few people know of me, or the story, so if I look at it from a purely commercial viewpoint, just publishing it as a single massive piece of erotica has lots of negatives:
- It would take a lo-o-ong time for anyone to read the whole thing
- I’d need to charge a high-ish price because of all the effort I’ve put into it
- So even with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, the sheer length would make it hard for people to decide to buy the whole thing
- With fewer people having read it, it would garner few reviews
- The all-or-nothing approach would pressure me to focus on that single story to the detriment of my other projects
- I think the sheer length would discourage many readers from even starting it: there’d be little visible sign of progress as you read it.
If I break it into multiple volumes, however, all those problems go away. And it would give me more flexibility to publish some of my other shorter stories in between volumes – since I wouldn’t feel like I had to finish “my erotic epic” before working on anything else.
As for the fact that the first draft is available for free on writing.com – there are (or were) one or two hundred people following the story, some even offering feedback and encouragement, and I think it would be mean to just stop it and say “if you want to see how it ends, you’ll have to buy it.” I’d rather say “If you’d like to support my efforts, please buy the finished and polished version.”
Anyway, those are my thoughts at present. I need to get back to my summarising to refresh my memory about the complex predicament the MC had gotten himself into. While my initial ten bullet points grew into a far longer outline – so the ending is pretty well worked out – there’s enormous room for contradictions if I don’t get all the existing details straight in my head before restarting.
Well, that decision seems cut and dried, now that I’ve thought it through here.
The approach also lets me keep contributing to the erotic bimbo-transformation illustrated text adventure game Trap Quest (http://trapquest.com/), which I find both enjoyable and terribly distracting. As well as blog here, and keep any followers in the loop, along with my Twitter feed, @SelkieTG.