Warning: real commentary has been edited for comedic effect.
It was hard getting into the mind of a creep, especially when you don’t want to think about what they like and how they are. Sandy had never been a target of anything like that, but she knew that people didn’t generally like it, so she thought it would be an easy enough thing to write about without much research.
Surely between that, her scrupled editing, and the fee, nobody would overlook it, right? It didn’t matter if she won or not of course.
Anyway, she wanted to start a writing group! Not like the one she was already in, more like one she’d like to start.
The group she was already a part of was minor friendly, which meant that while romance was an allowable subject, erotica wasn’t. It would be easy to collect enough people for it, adults that needed an adult discussion.
About sex. And only sex.
But not any of those… conceptual bits. Just raw word counts so she didn’t need to think about how it worked. Sandy honestly thought she’d die if she had to think about sex beyond who ended up on top.
It may’ve been fun to threaten whips and chains for the cliché of it, but frankly, anything more particular was more confronting than she’d like. And really, it wasn’t the part that sold anyway, so she really couldn’t be bothered.
So in the channel labeled the ‘lounge’ she posted.
Sandy_Cheeks - I was thinking about starting a writing group for more adult topics than are allowable here. An Erotica writing group.
Kay J. - This might be relevant to me. I’ve got a few characters that are gonna need some scenes like that.
ShyGuy - oh, sounds spicy!
Kay J. - Not particularly.
That in part was the preamble to connecting over DM’s, which was if anything a pain in the neck given mutual ignorance of most things computers.
In any case, it was easy enough to get at least something about her work over a few days, about her mom being a gracious supporter, about the basic overview of her work.
But that didn't make the outline easy to understand, it was apparently meant to be funny rather than soft. There were only two unambiguous sex scenes in the entire thing, and even then they weren't explicit.
And all that time she was concerned that her story about two serial killers would be a fundamental consent issue.
Beyond apparently being very plain when it came to dick jokes, she didn't seem like a good fit. But it didn't really matter, Sandy had only gotten about four people to join at that point, and really Sandy needed as many people as she could get.
Things stay pretty slow for about a month, it's also a slog to get Kay J. On because of her accounts settings, but it's all settled very quickly.
Sandy decided it was acceptable for people to post about their legit accounts pretty early on, even encouraging it for the sake of self-advertisement. But it was already clear that her work had been overlooked.
Sandy didn't quite know what was wrong with it, maybe there was a typo she'd missed. But she wasn't bothered, she wanted to start a collaboration. A Romance collab!
A few people agreed on account of the coming season, and she set up a channel, with some simple options.
POV: single, multi, etc.
Triggers: SA, Gore, etc.
SubGenre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Drama, Historical,
Perspective: first-person, second-person, third-person.
Word count: 1K - 3,000
Contribution count: 100 - 300
Writing will start on January 11th and end on February 12th, all contributors will have the right to post the work to their blogs to show off their combined work.
After that, it was as simple as waiting and watching. And waiting. No one really wanted to bite right off, but it wasn’t too long before they found some direction.
Kay J. - There seems to be a lot of options. I don’t really have much experience with contemporary though.
There were a few posts regarding people's triggers, and style merging(they landed on waiting for the edit), and one very confusing discussion about what perspective is, before the next interesting post. ShyGuy - here’s something I found. - they’d posted, with a screenshot of a Tumblr post referencing the dark-fairytale Tv-tropes page.
It was around a day after that when she posted her share. Sandy_Cheeks - how about swan maidens? - she posted, with a whole lot of screenshots about the various romantic myths, erotic poetry, and the like. One which was especially interesting was about a Swanwoman bathing in a stream, only to be leered at by a hunter, she didn’t really read much after that, but it was such a cool concept.
It’s a few hours later when a new option is raised. Kay J. - actually as far as animal bride-groom myths go, I prefer the fox bride or even the frog prince.
Sandy_Cheeks - animal bride-groom myths? What’s that?
Kay J. - it's the kind of myth the swan maiden is. Somebody meets an animal shapeshifter or not, once human or not, and they marry to mixed results. It’s very common, culturally. Beauty and the beast is loosely an animal bride myth.
Oh. Well, it didn’t matter really. There was some discussion of what kind of creature should be used, and Kay J. pops in with some dribble about centering the monster, as a way of really using the creature, whatever it is.
Sandy agrees, but only because it was interesting.
It was only after that that they were to start the actual writing, there wasn’t really a clear outline but almost everyone except Sandy and Kay were hankering for the middle. So she dropped the hook on Kay J. since Sandy didn’t want to seem egotistical.
Everyone except Kay J. kept discussing the characters since in and around the concept hashing they’d neglected to decide what the characters ought to be. That was fine.
Anyway, someone finally picked a name.
Mandy. Like by Barry Manilow.
Her alerts ping, expectedly. A little under the two-day mark.
Kay J. - Mine’s up for annotation. Hope you like the working title. - is posted with a link to the free writing program Sandy had chosen on account of nearly everyone having an account. Which in context made sense given the convenience of the associated Email provider.
She clicks in, feeling that she had first priority. It was Sandy’s idea after all, and it wasn’t like there were any real alternatives to the swan-maiden option, and it worked so well with what they were talking about last night.
She looked at the screen to read what was there and to put it simply she was surprised.
There is a clearing in a forest, the smell of evergreen clashes with the hour, as creatures strange and ordinary played their role.
Heartless creatures clamoring at life as the burrow stayed bared and unseen.
A toad watches lonesome, counting chicken scratch memories as the world breathes.
An oddity in an odd place even at its edges.
No matter her misgivings, what other notions she'd like to keep, she was a chosen creature.
No matter the indignity.
It hardly mattered now.
She had a visitor.
The only type that walked into the muck of what had been her world for most of her life.
A puny creature in want of a deal.
A human being.
The irregular sort that imposed themselves in hopes of a boon.
She counts their steps, more sure of those than of any hour she'd spent as a child.
There were two notes already by Kay J. one regarding the character being a toad, and the other regarding her femaleness. Neither of which seemed like the relevant issue to Sandy. It was like she didn’t even edit it, there were so many commas and only one instance of “and”, it could only be a triumph in grammatical error.
So Sandy decided to go line by line, which was fair. Because of the grammar. Which is the only thing that can be wrong with a written work. It was so confusing.
Selected-text: There is a clearing in a forest, the smell of evergreen clashes with the hour, as creatures strange and ordinary played their role. 9:02 Sandy_Cheeks - There is potential here. However, it needs connector words, and the vagaries of "played their role" have me conflummoxed. I know we're not really in edit mode yet, but I'm wondering if you can find a way to rephrase the opening line. The imagery is strong and sensual but it seems more like you're setting the scene than hooking the reader. Frankly I’d need an entire faunal breakdown before I understood what kind of forest we were in. Maybe swap the statements, and focus on the creatures more in the first line rather than the second.
Selected-text: Heartless creatures clamoring at life as the burrow stayed bared and unseen. 9:06 Sandy_Cheeks - This line seems to want to be joined. "In a clearing in a forest, heartless creatures, both strange and ordinary, clamored at life as the burrow remained bare and unseen.”
The smell of evergreen clashed with the hour…
(I think this part needs more--how could a smell "clash with the hour"? Is it supposed to be early or late? (it’s not like we’re writing fantasy or anything.)
If you add another part to this sentence, I think the opening paragraph will be stronger. Maybe fix the tenses, and change the verbs.
Selected-text: Toad 9:55 Kay J. - I’m going with a toad for now, but it’s only because they're cute.
Reply 9:10 Sandy_Cheeks - Is this meant to be the protagonist?
I think at this point we should consider a third-person omniscient narrator.
It may be fine to do limited POV for one character though--I'd like to get everyone's thoughts on this.
A Toad is an interesting choice…
earlier today Clide mentioned she liked Mandy for a dark fae's name, so perhaps ShyGuy.
or a writer down the line can introduce that character.
It was roughly ten minutes later when she responded 9:28 Kay J. - I generally work in third-person cause occasional distance in text is less jarring, though farther specs in terminology are something I'm ignorant to.
This is a known quantity.
Though Mandy as a name would definitely fit later bits either way.
It was the same timing for Sandy, 9:37 Sandy_Cheeks - Would the whole story would be from the frog's point of view?
That's what we as a group need to figure out early on.
IMO we can keep the frog as she is and work Mandy into a separate character, but let's see what the others say. … Was what she posted and the matter was settled.
Selected-text: A toad watches lonesome, counting chicken scratch memories as the world breathes. An oddity in an odd place even at its edges. 9:16 Sandy_Cheeks - I love "chicken-scratch memories." but the wording is unclear and strange.
"watches lonesome"-- is a poor word arrangement. Perhaps you mean she was gazing into the distance, or spacing out…
"counting ..." seems under described, there should really be more adjectives. How exactly can the “world breathe”? Honestly it seems extraneous.
You used ‘odd’ twice, which is repetitive. I get the impression that the toad is an outsider with her own kind?
That's the vibe I'm getting.
I'd love to know your intentions with this.
It was nearly an hour later that she explained herself. 9:49 Kay J. - I was trying for otherworldliness without wasted space. If you must know what she's staring into it's what's already been described at this point.
Which frankly came off as rude, it took Sandy ten minutes to get back to that. 9:52 Sandy_Cheeks - It's not that I must know specifics, it's that "watches lonesome" sounds awkward.
So she's lonesome, but that's just a description of her state of being, telling rather than showing. The chicken scratch memories line is far more effective in communicating her feelings than stating she is lonesome. Even if it’s weirdly worded.
Forty minutes later and all Kay J. had was a glib response, 10:37 Kay J. - she's not exactly looking in a mirror.
It only took Sandy twenty minutes, though she didn’t really have an argument. 10:53 Sandy_Cheeks - I get that. … Sandy did not get that
Selected-text: No matter her misgivings, what other notions she'd like to keep, she was a chosen creature. No matter the indignity. 9:18 Sandy_Cheeks - What does it mean?
(Literally, I'm confused by this.)
Kay J. would reply a full hour later, retorting in some manner that she probably thought was clever. 10:03 Kay J. - It's very literal.
chosen, as in one of those stolen/sold children I brought up. It matches with the dark-fae moral gray thing.
Once the protag was decided to be a magical being and all that.
that and it worked with the no gore, no SA thing.
it's hard to establish consent if the creature's usually the target of bride theft in myth.
Sandy corrected herself a bit, as those were all things that had been discussed, but she had to continue, Kay J. had forgotten the addendum. 10:51 Sandy_Cheeks - We can do some gore!!
Just not Human Centipede-style body horror or excessive blood and guts.
Kay J. would only respond the day after. 12:20 Kay J. - then she can gut someone later and we can shy away from more than one bucket of blood.
Selected-text: The only type that walked into the muck of what had been her world for most of her life. A puny creature in want of a deal. 9:19 Sandy_Cheeks - This sentence is awkward. It reads better as, "The only type that walked into the forest" The reader always knows she's unhappy at this point.
She responded an hour later, 10:05 Kay J. - is there a problem with reiteration? There can’t be pathos without trauma.
And Sandy, getting sick of the push back, answered two hours later, 10:44 Sandy_Cheeks - What you're saying here in this comment make sense--but the sentence as it is currently written does not.
She replied again, an hour later, 11:50 Kay J. - I was trying to express it through the language present, which is an option the alternative didn't offer. … Which was as confusing a statement as the original text she’d written. So she didn’t bother arguing.
Selected-text: The irregular sort that imposed themselves in hopes of a boon. 9:27 Sandy_Cheeks - "The irregular sort"--so the only humans who "impose themselves in hopes of a boon" (I dig that phrasing BTW) are people on the fringes of society? At the same time, it makes me think of monetary transactions, and that hearkens back to the "deal" previously mentioned... Or are the only people she has encountered the ones who have the ability to enter this world based on a "power" of their own? FYI I am asking these questions not just at you, but also to the group for our brainstorming and plotting purposes. … Sandy was very careful about that, hopefully she took a hint. Kay J. didn’t respond to that one, so maybe she did.
Selected-text: An oddity in an odd place even at its edges. 9:20 Sandy_Cheeks - Huh. So now I think I get it. This is the human, not the fae… and the fae can still be Clide's Mandy.
It seems a sad existence for her.
It’s an hour later when Sandy is corrected, 10:10 Kay J. - she's referring to her personal history, the disconnect is supposed to be harrowing. But I’m having trouble understanding how you could both read it and be this confused.
Sandy simply reiterated herself thirty minutes later, 10:47 Sandy_Cheeks - I'm not getting "harrowing" from this, but perhaps the story as it continues will reveal a harrowing predicament.
Right now she just seems kind of detached and not too emotionally invested in anything.
Selected-text: She counts their steps, more sure of those than of any hour she'd spent as a child. 9:23 Sandy_ Cheeks - Okay...maybe I don't get it.
What is she?
Did she used to be human?
This section honestly baffles me.
Part of my confusion could be caused by the grammatical errors.
I do get that the visitor is human and wants something from her.
I also understand that she's tired of placating humans because they seem greedy/self-centered.
She only responded an hour later, 10:11 Kay J. - I thought that was known given the material, but alright.
As Sandy did in turn, 10:50 Sandy_Cheeks - The issue can be fixed with grammar polishing and structure rearrangement down the line; now that you have made your narrative intentions clearer, everyone will have a better idea of where to go next with the plot.
She was serious about that, the language was just too flowery for it to be anything else. Sandy had made a few more comments, but Kay J. didn’t respond to those for some reason.
Selected-text: The irregular sort that imposed themselves in hopes of a boon. 9:32 Sandy_Cheeks - I'm left wondering what happened to change her from human to what she is now. This is a good place for ShyGuy. to pick up the pen.
Selected-text: She counts their steps, more sure of those than of any hour she'd spent as a child. 9:28. Sandy_Cheeks - This is curious phrasing.
At the same time, it makes me think of monetary transactions, and that hearkens back to the "deal" previously mentioned…
It was the day after their last correspondence on the document that Kay J. blatantly left with her portion of the work. Being ignorant to the inner workings of either her demented perspective or of the program they were using Sandy was forced to make nice over DM’s, which for some reason didn’t go over well.