Wow! That's about all I can say after receiving a gazillion responses to the last post. I think that I've responded to everyone who emailed me with a comment on this and if I've missed someone, please forgive me and always make sure you include the email address in your response or I just get "Anonymous."
Let's see. In general, the consensus was that codes deal with major themes that affect the main character(s). That's pretty much the way I look at it. However, there was also a strong leaning that anything having to do with one of the "major" squicks needs to be called out. This includes MM, snuff, pedophilia, rape, and torture. There are a few others for me as well. I don't do BDSM. I've actually tried because there are a couple of stories that have very high ratings that involve this and the stories are very well-written. I just can't take it. I have one story that I termed a psychological thriller and turned out to be closer to horror. I alerted readers not to expect the warm fuzzies that I usually have in my stories. There was nothing romantic about it. It was my one and only Mind Control story and you can't read it unless you have a premium account. ("A Painful Silence") But generally, I avoid either reading or writing any of the above themes.
So, what are the main themes of LNDtH? I've called it a "Coming of Age" story, but have to alert readers to the fact that it's going to take 20 years for these kids to come of age. The story starts with Brian in 4th grade and he's nearly 30 when I anticipate this tome coming to a graceful end. Then there is the fact that in 4th grade, kids are 10. My original draft had kids of like ages exploring with typical kid's curiosity. That included "You show me yours and I'll show you mine," "Doctor," and masturbation. I was told quickly that that violated the posting guidelines of SOL and I edited to remove "any person under the age of 14 in a sexual situation." As a result, I posted the first 12 chapters two at a time so people could get through them. In chapter 12, the night Brian turns 14, a Girl Scouts crawls naked into his sleeping bag with him. Still there is very little of a sexual nature that occurs until Brian and Rhonda break up at the end of 8th grade.
I've noted the comment that I was asked when the sex starts since I promised that. In my view there's "some sex" over the next two parts of the book, even though there is no penetration. But from chapter 12 on, I code the story mt/ft. Eventually, since this covers such a long period of time, I'll add MA/FA. I was adding bi-sexual, but have elected to simply replace that with ft/ft. That's really what I mean.
The story is coded "school" and "slow". Should be self-explanatory. To me, it is important to specify that it is consensual and romantic. When we get to penetration, I'll add "First." Since there are strong elements of multiple partners, I've also included the code Polygamy/Polyamory. Specifically, LNDtH is the latter. In fact, while there is NO M/M in the story, not only does the lead character have multiple girlfriends, some of those girls have multiple boys. That will put males in close proximity with each other at times, but there won't be any M/M with the possible "exception" of a couple guys crossing swords while headed to the same sheath. M/M is not a squick to me, it just isn't interesting.
Now, how to deal with incidents that are not within that code. I started this conversation by telling of the reader who notified me that he quit reading because "It looks like you are heading to some interracial. It would have been nice if you had that in the story codes." I got a great email from a reader who cited an example of a white female acquaintance who fantacized about a black lover to the extent that he was just a sex animal that she could use. Yeah. If I was writing a story like that (God forbid!) I'd code it interracial in the same way that I'd code any other fetish story. But in a situation where there are twenty teens who sign a dating agreement and three of the twenty happen to be black and "might" end up in a sexual situation with a white-- Just grow up. They are teenagers and they will try just about anything with just about anyone. I don't, as another reader suggested, have a "cute girl" tag either.
I listen to every reader comment and if an email is included, I respond to it. One such comment came to me mid-way through "Triptych", the second story in the Model Student series. He was really upset that I'd introduces a submissive character and that I should have coded this in the original Model Student so he wouldn't have invested his time and emotions in the story. I felt really bad about this because I felt I'd betrayed my reader. The truth is that I couldn't warn him at the beginning. When I started posting "Model Student" I thought it was only going to be two chapters. People kept writing and saying "Don't stop" so I kept going. With four stories in that series it was somewhere near 500,000 words. I honestly didn't know about Wendy when I started and even when I introduced her I didn't know that was her quirk nor that she'd become an important character down the line.
That's the miracle of a serial like this as opposed to a novel. When I started posting "Redtail" or "The Props Master," those novels were complete edited and all uploaded at the same time. The Model Student series was and LNDtH is live, improvisational theater, folks. Oh, I'm ahead of you by a long ways. You've just finished reading chapter 24 and I'm writing chapter 70. But with a cast of thirty to start and increasing with almost every chapter, I can't tell you if a character someplace down the road is going to be submissive or a criminal or mentally unstable or abused or a nymphomaniac. You might not believe it, but usually these characters tell me who they are, not the other way around. I've discovered that one character likes light spankings as part of her sex play--in fact, anything to do with her butt--and will probably be one who wants to try anal sex someplace down the road. LNDtH isn't about anal sex, nor is it a major component. With the time span of the story, there is likely to be a pregnancy or two or more. The story isn't about pregnancy or getting girls pregnant. There will probably be criminal acts, revenge, death, just about anything else that can happen in people's lives as they go from 15 to 30 in an uncertain and changing world. And just as there will be laughter and sex and orgasms, there will also be tears and heartbreak and depression felt as only a teen can truly feel it.
Many people have given me a suggestion that I will follow, and that is to include more specific information in the Introduction to each part. I did, to some extent, and I will to a greater extent, including editing and enhancing the Introduction to Part I and the Intro to Part II. I have to tell you, though, that statistically about two thirds of readers even load the intro. Since the time progresses and the characters gain or lose importance, I'm including an Intro and a Cast list at the beginning of each part. I'm not splitting the story up into separate stories and making a series out of it because it is a continuous whole like J Ryter's "The Legend of Eli Crow" or RoustWriter's "Arlene and Jeff." Each of those have several parts, but it's one continuous story. This is a single story, not a series. To date, 23,200 people downloaded Chapter 1. Only 16,000 downloaded the Introduction. People will miss the warnings I put there, but I will put fresh information about what is coming in each of the Intros.
In a few days, following advice from another reader, I will do a blog post of just the codes and descriptions for LNDtH. I'll do an updated blog post each time I start a new part. I hope this has been as interesting and helpful a discussion as readers as it has been for me as an author. Thank you so much for your input, your comments, and most of all for your support.
I've mentioned before, but I will repeat here that I usually write for publication and several stories that I've written here on SOL are available for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as authored by Devon Layne. But not LNDtH. Unless something drastic happens in the future that I can't foresee, LNDtH will be available only here on SOL for readers who will see it for free. It is my way of giving back for all the support and kindness you have shown me. Thank you!