What I Look for in a Story by Lucy Felthouse
When it comes to editing anthologies, I can only really speak for myself in terms of what I look for in a story. When it comes to editing the Smut anthologies (which currently include Smut by the Sea Volume 1, Smut in the City, Smut Alfresco and Smut by the Sea Volume 2), the one thing Victoria Blisse and I both look for is fun, light-hearted stories. To us, that’s what the Smut anthologies are all about, and we’ve even included this requirement in our calls for submissions.
Now, onto the stuff where I’m just speaking for myself. Writers should know I don’t have a checklist or anything like that, I just dive into a story and see how I feel about it when I come out of the other end. Pernickety things are things like presentation: make sure you’ve got your title and pen name (be clear on which is which, you don’t want the wrong one ending up in the final anthology!) both on the document, and as the title of the document. The last thing an editor wants is to read a story, really enjoy it, and have absolutely no idea who wrote it. If we can’t find out, you could well be losing out on a story sale.
Adhere to what’s been asked for. As a writer, I’ll print out a call for submissions and before I submit my story, I’ll go through it with a fine toothcomb to make sure I’m doing everything that’s been asked for, i.e. using the correct font and size, indents, etc. Your story won’t be rejected if you haven’t paid attention, but it doesn’t do you any favours if you can’t follow the instructions. Good formatting also makes the story much easier to read—if an editor can’t concentrate on your story because of poor formatting, again, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
Checking your grammar and spellings should be a given, but sadly, people do submit stories that haven’t been thoroughly edited. Yes, we’re the editors and we’ll pick up on this stuff, but you should still send a story that’s as perfect as it can be before it leaves your computer. It just makes a good impression. Also – make sure you haven’t changed your character names halfway through a story. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, which is why I always write the names down on the top of my document or a piece of paper to make sure I’m not randomly changing them, or altering the spelling.
Okay, now onto the less pernickety things. Make sure the story flows and makes sense. I know from experience when you’re writing a story that just because things make sense in your head, doesn’t always translate to the page. Read your story again and try and imagine you don’t know who the characters are, what’s going to happen, and so on, and make sure an outsider will get it.
For the Smut anthologies in particular, make sure your characters are likeable. Or at least ones we love to hate. We don’t want dark, nasty characters. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but they’re just not what we’re looking for in this particular series. We truly want fun, sexy, smutty stories, and we’ve rejected brilliant submissions just because they didn’t fit into the tone we’re aiming for.
Try and be different. Luckily, we haven’t had many stories sent in which have been set in the same places, so we haven’t had to worry about that. But give yourself the best chance, and set your story somewhere unusual, or give the tale a quirky slant. Having said that, in Smut in the City, we accepted two stories set on the London Underground—but if you read the anthology, you’ll see that they were so different and so brilliant that we took them both anyway.
Make it sexy! This may seem like the most ridiculously obvious piece of advice, but it’s relevant. We have had stories in that haven’t been sexy. Maybe they’ve finished before the erotic part starts, or there’s no eroticism at all. This would be fine for a romance anthology, perhaps, but this is Smut and smut means sex, or masturbation, or at the very least, a graphic daydream. However, try and avoid “and it was all a dream” if at all possible. It’s been done quite a lot, and we want something different.
Pull us in. This is probably the most important thing of all. In a short story, you don’t have that much time to grab your reader and yank them into the story, so you’ve got to do it fast, and do it well. We want stories where we’re intrigued, fascinated and excited, and eager to know how it’s going to end. If we get to the end of a story and nothing much has happened, or it was just “meh” then it’s not going to get into the anthology. Knock our socks off.
Make sure what you send is actually a story. By that, I mean something with a beginning, a middle and an end. Not just a sex scene. We want to know why the characters are having sex (or solo sex!), other than just because they fancy each other, of course. Are they a couple, have they just met, are they friends to lovers? The word counts we’re looking for in the Smut anthologies give you enough time to develop this, as well as writing in some damn good, hot sex.
We like romance, too! Yes, we’re looking for erotic stories, but we also love erotic romance. So if you can make us go “aww” as well as “ooh” then we’d like to hear from you, too.
The best thing you can do to get an idea of what we want for the Smut anthologies is to read a couple of them. You’ll quickly get the hang of the tone we want, the heat level, the types of tales. So soak it all up and then let your imagination run away with you. We look forward to reading your stories!
Sex in the great outdoors is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.
From the dramatic gritstone escarpments of Derbyshire’s Peak District, to a quiet caravan site in deepest Wales, Smut Alfresco has it all. Whatever your interpretation of frisky outdoor fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you.
Sexy woodsmen, daring couples, rock stars, cougars, map enthusiasts, mattresses, ex-lovers, tour guides, hunky sheriffs and nature reserve rangers all appear in this hot collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.
Includes stories from: Violet Fields, Demelza Hart, Victoria Blisse, Jacqueline Brocker, Wendi Zwaduk, K T Red, Tilly Hunter, Bel Anderson, Lucy Felthouse, Kay Jaybee, Tenille Brown, Cass Peterson, Jenny Lyn and Nicole Gestalt.
More info, excerpt and buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/smut-alfresco/
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women's Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9
I have to admit I was curious and it was fun finding out what was behind her decision in the latest anthology Smut Alfresco in which I have the story When the Rains Come. So thank you very much to Lucy for stopping by!