We saw a lot of fantastic entries in the Ardent Books Scorching Stories contest that ended back in July and I have to hand it to the courageous authors who submitted. It takes a certain level of bravery to craft a story and send it off to a pair of eyes that will judge the caliber of your writing.
That’s what editors do, you know. Even I, the suave editor for a very sexy line of stories at Assent Publishing must judge the writing. Much of what came across my desk shared certain characteristics which lead us to offer a contract even though the contest results haven’t been announced yet.
By the way, we’re looking at mid-October to announce our winners.
The first thing the stories we offered contracts to had in common was that they were well written. Proper prose is allowed the occasional mistake as authors scramble to meet a deadline, and leeway is often given by editors because of this notion. But the stories we have so far accepted all came to us nearly polished if not perfectly polished to the point that editing them would be as easy as pie. Already a powerful start as this shows any editor that the author values their work enough to turn in only the best material they can craft. That meant no overly exhaustive passive voice, no first person stories lacking total description. The stories we contract maintain their original voices as we seek a higher quality product from our authors to begin with.
The authors shared the common goal of being fervent readers of erotica. This, too, is an important factor in writing as it helps the writer see current style while they develop their own. Oftentimes, beginning erotica writers try to write for the adult markets like Penthouse, but are aiming more for the sophistication of Playboy. There’s finesse in writing erotica while not coming across as someone with the abilities of a middle school writer.
The stories we chose to contract also had great characterization and plot twists. Yes, this is important. If an author sends a typical plot in erotica, it needs to be spectacular in how the hooks drive the story towards a climax. Yes, a man and a woman can hook up at a hotel and have wild, chandelier-swinging, Bill O’Reilly-style sex but the entire story cannot be about that single encounter or series of encounters without a reason we (and readers) wouldn’t expect. While the plot of any erotica story is simple, the reasons to keep the characters apart is more important because that drives the story and gives us a reason to care about the characters. It deepens our connection so when we get to the good parts and reach for our toys, our release is that much sweeter.
Something that caught my attention with all of the stories we contracted was not just the professionalism the authors displayed with their writing, but diverse themes outside of the traditional. I have a steampunk story I’m really excited to read because the author knows her material very well and has grown into an example of a fine writer. Another mythology story possessed a unique twist I had to inquire about because I have a Hungarian background. Yet another author put a spin on the Arabian myths with some BDSM and kink.
These elements are important in fiction as a general rule, but more so in erotica, where we are often scrutinized for writing the material we do. Our writing has to be extra tight, our plots superiorly crafted and we needn’t shy away from complexity. Yes, we are bringing the sexy! What will your outstanding submission look like?
We’d love to see your stories! Ardent Books is currently accepting submissions by established and novice authors for our line. See our call for submissions here!