Brief notes on narrative structure, flow, plot, characterisation, dialogue, point of view and the avoidance of prolixity and irrelevant detail in short stories...
How do you write stories? Or rather, how do you write stories? You see, somebody had this great idea of letting writers have a place to skulk, where they don't have to put up with a load of stuff from a bunch of popcorn addicts about giving pictures of women bigger breasts.
Then there was this other idea, to have a section of the same site where writers could pass on tips about how they do it. Well, when I say 'do it', I mean how they write stories, not how they do it, which is a matter for them and them alone. And possibly their partners...
That, by the way, was a digression. This, by the way, is another. Digressions are dreadfully annoying things. You should rule them out of your life and delete them from your stories. Anyone will tell you that. Well, not anyone, but you know... Sadly, the whole of this article is a digression, so if you want to go and do something else, feel free.
Some real-life narrators speak entirely in digressions and you know how annoying they are. Well, don't you? I mean, I was in bed with my next-door neighbour's daughter only yesterday - well, her second daughter, actually, she's got four: the youngest is a bit young and the second youngest has so many spots that, well, I mean, it's not like it's her fault, as such, but she picks them all the time, and I do mean 'all'; anyway, the oldest - who has some of the most enormous tits you ever saw in your life, and I do not exaggerate - is a raving dyke, so I ended up with daughter number two, who isn't too much of a horror story, not when you look at her mother - and... still that's not important. It's not germane to the issue, as it were. What is important is that you don't want the reader to have to trawl through yards of garbage and subordinate clauses just to get to the point, which is not the fact that I was in bed with my neighbour's second daughter when her father burst into the bedroom, but the fact that while I was in bed with my neighbour's second daughter, her father burst into the bedroom. Or did I tell you that already?
In fact, I did mention the eldest daughter's tits; and the size of them, despite what she chooses to do with them, or rather who she does it with, which is entirely her own affair, of course - far be it from me to stand in judgement on my fellow man, or woman in this case. In the loosest sense of the word. Anyway, I said she has some of the most enormous tits you ever saw in your life, and that's true, but don't go running away with the idea that they are the biggest tits in the family. All four of them... but that's not important right now either. I was telling you how their dad walked in. Well, he took a seat, and pulled it up by the bed, and said, "I want a bit of a word with you, sonny!" Just like that. Sonny.
Perhaps, to clarify the picture a little, I should tell you I was kind of underneath, and his second daughter was bouncing up and down on top, the way she does, and being naked and everything, well, her titties were just about going into orbit. But at least, with me being underneath, I could maintain some kind of eye contact with her dad. We couldn't exactly see each other the whole time, not with Miss Maxi-Floppers rebounding all over the option, but we did, like, catch a glimpse of each other from time to time.
"So," he says. "You're one of these smut writers, right?"
"Right," I said, wondering where all this was leading to. Well, he didn't answer straight away. The girl in the scene chose that moment to have one of her more thunderous orgasms. We let her have it in more or less respectful silence - although silence isn't really the right word. She stopped eventually. Her dad probably knew she would. I noticed he had a little notepad on his knee, and a pencil poised to take down my answers.
"Well, I've just bought a PC," he said, "so I thought I'd have a go at writing a few stories myself. I've got Word and stuff like that, so I don't need to be able to spell or do grammar. I was wondering if you could give me a few tips, like, to get me started?"
"Tips?" Daughter number two, after a brief sip of isotonic energy drink, was back into her rhythm, although she was moving more slowly and swaying forwards and backwards in a pretty distracting way, especially for a girl with tits the size of hers.
"Well, yeah. About writing. What do you do about a plot, for instance? Do you plan it all out in advance, I mean?"
"It's a bit complicated, Dad. You don't mind if I call you Dad, do you...?"
"Feel free," he laughed. "You'll probably be marrying our Rachel sooner or later, after all." Rachel, I should explain, was the female character in the present scene. Now, a remark like that, even delivered with a chuckle, could easily cause instant detumescence, or at the very least, a degree of erectile dysfunction. Under any other circumstances, that is. Now, with Rachel working away down there, it simply wasn't a problem. She has certain internal skills, which... well, the less said about those, the better. But you've got to hand it to Rachel. Actually, you don't, she just unzips you and grabs it for herself.
"I don't usually," I told him, and was pleased to see that he wrote it down straight away, so he was concentrating, at least. "I get a bunch of characters, drop them into a situation, and see where it all leads to."
"Hmm. So when you start, you never know how long it's going to be, nor what is going to happen."
Rather like having it off with Rachel, I thought irrelevantly. He was probing up his left nostril with his pencil. "So, who are these characters of yours?"
"Anybody. They're just people. I might have two of them holding a conversation..."
"Two? So what's the ideal number of characters in a scene? Doesn't it get confusing when you have too many characters grabbing the attention?"
Rachel grabbed my attention at that moment. For a while, it was starting to look as if we were going to have to drag her down from the ceiling, but she came down on her own and reinserted herself almost without missing a beat. Almost.
"Two's not bad," I gulped brokenly, "although there's no problem with having a third as long as she's doing something constructive..."
"Like making babies?"
"Sort of, yeah. She doesn't really need to say anything..."
"Nothing that makes sense, anyway."
"Okay. Two characters, maybe three, but no more." He wrote carefully on his pad, the tip of his tongue sticking out. It was around this time that I became aware of Rachel's two younger sisters sprawled together in an armchair at the end of the bed, watching us. They weren't taking notes, but they were taking plenty of notice. The spotty one had even stopped scratching. As they wore abbreviated T-shirts and absolutely nothing else, it would be tempting to describe their appearance; perhaps starting at their long shapely legs and working upwards past their creamy thighs, their juice-moist crotches - one shaven shockingly bald, the other almost embarrassingly hirsute - beyond their slender waists to their mind-blowingly vast tits. But I always think there is a time and a place for everything, and this was neither the time nor the place to be describing two achingly-beautiful teenage sisters, one of whom even had spots on her tautly-rounded bum. God knows how long they had been there. Not the spots, the younger sisters.
"How about the point of view?" their father said. "Do you prefer a first-person narrative, or an omniscient observer?" One wonders where people get all this stuff. I mean, if he was off school with a tummy bug the day they did spelling and grammar, how come he was there when they did omniscient narrators?
"I can take it or leave it," I said mysteriously. "Just avoid jumping from one point of view to another with no good reason. It's confusing for the reader."
Rachel raised herself up, teetered, then plunged down satisfyingly. 'That's shut him up,' she thought, as I lapsed into unconsciousness.
"She's killed him," yelled Traci, starting to her feet, her enormous breasts plummeting into view, smacking her on the tummy and settling into two wholly independent jiggles. "And it was my turn next."
"After me, short-arse," howled Ivana, elbowing her kid sister aside and clutching an armful of her own spotty bosom before it could upset her fragile equilibrium.
"I think I see what he means," their father mused, making a final note and closing the notepad. "Come on, girls, it's time to get measured for your new bras again."
Rachel was still going through the motions. "Oh, that's so gratuitous, Daddy! There's more to life than cup sizes. I mean, I'm a 34M, but mine are so much nicer than Ivana's, and she wears a 32Q!"
Ivana squeezed at a spot and mopped up the blood with a handful of tissue. "And mine are a far better shape than Traci's, and hers are 30Y. Or even a 30*, the way she's growing."
Traci was eyeing the corpse on the bed. She had a school ruler in one hand and her algebra exercise book in the other. "How big's his dong, Rachel?" she whispered.
I felt myself slowly recovering consciousness. "What are you doing with that ruler, young lady?" I challenged the girl sternly.
"She wants a good spanking," Ivana suggested hopefully.
"Ah, you've recovered," said the girls' father, opening his notepad as Rachel closed her eyes and began again. "What were you saying about just putting a bunch of characters into a scene and seeing what happens? Don't you ever think there's a risk of things getting out of control...?"