Monday, December 7, 2015

Give the People What They Want

What follows is a tale of why being a pantser isn’t always a good thing.

I’m handling edits right now, for a story that, if all goes well, should come out sometime in January. It’s futuristic MM, set on a distant planet with aliens and stuff. Our Hero finds himself in possession of a man from a species whose entire focus is on sex. They end up falling in love, of course. It’s a romance.

Here’s where my pantserness tripped me up. As I was writing the scene where they dispense with their clothes, it suddenly occurred to me why these alien males are so popular. It’s because they’re hermaphrodites. AC/DC in both body and temperament. Whatever you’re in the mood for, even if it’s both at once, they can accommodate you. Tell this guy to go screw himself and he’ll say, “Be back in ten minutes.”

My lusty heroes consummate their budding relationship, using the guy’s lady parts. That’s where I left it.

Not good.

My editor wasn’t overjoyed. I was expecting that. I anticipated there might be some flak over the twist my pantser half threw in. She didn’t tell me to excise it, though. Instead she pointed out, “This is MM. The readers come to this genre for a certain experience and you’ve given them something else. You can fix it by adding some butt sex.” Not her exact words, of course, but that was the gist of her assessment.

And you know what? She’s absolutely right.

Every genre and sub-genre has its own conventions. Science fiction generally has some kind of tech. You can spot fantasy by the elves and the dragons. Put the elves and dragons in modern-day New York City and now it’s urban fantasy. Westerns have cowboys, horses and shoot-‘em-ups. Horror novels have monsters. If the woman falls in love with the monster, then it’s paranormal romance. Crime novels have killings or kidnappings or anything that would bring in the cops. Mysteries have, well, a mystery. Romances are about two people falling in love and working their way toward a Happily Ever After. Take away the HEA and it becomes women’s fiction with a romantic bent.

These are all valid genres, with their own particular audiences. People come to them with certain expectations. That mystery novel better include a mystery, and it damn well better be mysterious. Don’t give your orc a ray gun and try to tell people it’s SF. It’s still fantasy. Readers who expected the orcs to wield swords will give you a half star on Amazon.

For MM, it’s man love. Guy-on-guy relations. Not guy on pseudo-woman, which is what I did. If you’re writing MM, especially MM erotic romance, then somebody’s dick better find its way into somebody else’s butthole, or the readers are going to come after you with torches and pitchforks. And they’ll never buy a book from you again.

I knew this when I wrote it. I even considered adding a more conventional MM sex scene but didn’t know where to put it. I almost made the worst mistake a writer can fall victim to: misleading the readers. The audience for MM books is ponying up its cash for the guy/guy romantic experience. Either give them what they expect to get or suffer the consequences.

That’ll teach these e-book publishers to accept manuscripts without reading them first. It taught me not to screw around (no pun intended) with my audience. Mea culpa, folks. Your butt sex is on its way. And it’s gonna be hawt. I’ve thought of a way to make that original scene the prelude to the good stuff, the real MM sex scene, involving guys slamming guys into walls. That should wash the taste of girl cooties out of everyone’s mouth.

Writers, listen to your editors. They know what they’re doing. They know what’s good for the book. My next MM will be between two Earth guys, and butts will definitely get penetrated. One of the guys turns into a horse, so I suppose it’s paranormal. Just so you know that up front.

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