Making the ChainbyRedHairedandFriendly©
Author's Note: This is my opinion on how to create and operate a successful chain story. It's by no means the only way and it's not what you may find is your way, but for me it works. Enjoy and good luck if you do decide to one day construct your own chain story on Lit. ~ Red
Some of you reading this may already know what a chain story is and just enjoy reading various types of literature. Others may be reading this submission because you like "How To" stories; while someone else may have read or is reading a chain story and are curious as to how to get started as well as how to participate.
First, for those that don't know what a chain story on Literotica is, here is a link to their FAQ concerning the category: http://www.literotica.com/faq/05235347.shtml#05310792 - What is a chain story? How do I start one?
Now that you've taken a moment to check out the above link, I'll continue on. I've be "in charge" of various chain stories here on Lit: A Royal Sacrifice, Dry Valley, Laresa's World, On the Bus, Kismet, Enchanted Twelve. I've been involved in two others, contributing 2 chapters each to: AH Fantasies and Hollyquirk Studios.
For my "How to" I am only going to discuss the chains I've been in charge of, not those that someone else started. Topics I will cover will include: Politics of a Chain, Schedules, Cheat Sheet/Cheat Post, and Two Types of Chains: Book & Glimpse.
Politics of a Chain:
Being the creator of a chain story, you need to decide how much of an iron fist you are going to wield. You have to go in knowing that you are working with a variety of writers. If you are fortunate, you'll not only have experienced Literotica authors, but also inexperienced ones.
You need to determine if you want to read and approve every chapter before they are submitted to Lit. You have to be willing to privately discuss concerns you have with the writer if they write something you deem questionable to the plot/character. Whether the writer is an old pro, or a newbie, you have to have the courage to say "I need to know why you did this?" or "I don't see the character(s) doing that?"
With the above said, be prepared for them to come back to you and say, "Well, this is how I want it and I am not going to change it." Don't get too worried about this. Usually if someone tells you that, they have a good reason for it, and most likely, if you think about it, their reasoning is sound and plausible. Very rarely have I had to step in and say "I'm sorry, you need to rethink this angle. I'm not seeing it."
As the creator of the chain, you aren't immune to the feedback of your co-authors. They have just as much right to say to you that something you wrote seems out of place. They are there for the same goal as you, to complete a chain worthy of attention. You have to listen and change if it is in the best interest of the chain. Remember, you turned this idea over to others because you either needed help or you wanted to see where others could take it.
There is going to be drama in the chain and I don't mean the story. You are going to offend people; writers are sensitive when it comes to their work. There may come a time when a writer drops out of your chain. There may also come a time when you need to ask someone to leave the chain. I have been very fortunate in regards to this and have not had to – yet.
The "bad" experiences I've had have been few and far between. One writer felt slighted, and someone else felt they were being "spoken" ill of. Each situation was unique; you will have to determine how best to handle them as they arise. Don't go in with your fists raised, take time to evaluate all the angles before taking whatever necessary steps you feel will best suit the chain, the authors involved, and those that are waiting for their crack at the next chapter.
Most importantly, remember, you cannot please everyone.
Literotica recommends you post a whole schedule as well as making your submission dates 4 days to 8 days apart. I will admit that almost all of the chapters, for the chains I've been in charge of, run approximately 2 weeks apart; sometimes longer.
Scheduling is one of the hardest things to navigate in a chain, at least it is for me. The reason behind this is simple. Many writers are busy writing their own stories, as well as living their own lives. You must be willing to compromise on the schedule.
Writers can trade dates or request to have an extension. The schedule is not written in stone and sometimes real life deals us a blow and we have to abandon ship. It may not be the other writers that disappear from a chain – it may be you.
On a more personal note, I took time away from Lit. and left chains to dangle. I came back in October of 2011 with a fresh perspective and was able to complete one, and restart the second. I think the writers that were able to come back, did so because of two reasons: the story has the potential to be great and I was honest about my reasons for leaving.
The one thing to keep in mind regarding this part of the "How to" is: Be flexible!
Cheat Sheet/Cheat Post
A cheat sheet or cheat post is very important in regards to the Book Style of a chain, which is covered later. This post is where you should place key details of the characters in the story. Such as hair color, eye color, demeanor, family history, current place in time in relation to the story/scene. You need this because each chapter written will most likely use characters from previous chapters.
If you're writing about Afsoon's (Kismet) induction into General Risay's harem, you don't want to tell folks how special she was made to feel in chapter 3, when in chapter 1 she was abused and coerced into giving up her virginity.
You don't want to create a personality that falters so radically that your readers are left scratching their heads, wondering "where did that come from?" So keep your cheat sheet, and make it available to all writers, by putting it in your thread. I usually put mine in the first post. Here is an example: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=26080517&postcount=1
As you can see, I have a mini-cheat sheet for each family involved in Kismet. The other writers can come back in at any time and check to see if a character they are using is being used properly.
Did they assign the right harem girl with the right Master? Did they keep true to the name of the Sultan's wife? What hair color did that one girl have? Did that character have any abnormalities or physical features I have to remain true to? These questions are very important in maintaining the story line.
When creating and maintaining your cheat sheet, you need to make sure your other writers keep you informed of details that are being introduced in their chapter. You and every writer in the chain MUST read every chapter submitted. Also take notes of the chapters after they are submitted, or beforehand, in case a writer forgets to let you know what they think is key, or perhaps you see something you may want to use in a future chapter.
Be diligent, no detail is too small to a devoted reader/fan.
Two Types of Chains:
Personally I believe there are two types of chain stories, a "book" type and a "glimpse". What you'll be reading next is just my personal take on the types of chains that are constructed.
A "Book" chain story is one that has a beginning, middle and an end. The previous sections on politics, schedules, and cheat sheets/cheat posts are a must for the Book chain.
A "Glimpse" chain, in my opinion, consists of the same idea but each chapter can stand alone and be read as individual stories. The common denominator of the work could be the location where things take place, or the people involved. Politics with this type of chain is almost non-existent, as are schedules and cheat sheets, though you must include a preliminary schedule per Literotica's chain story rules.
Dry Valley, Laresa's World, A Royal Sacrifice, Enchanted Twelve, and Kismet are all book styles. For each one an idea came to me from out of nowhere or via a picture I saw, or a story I grew up with. The initial idea ran around in my head for several days, sometimes months before I realized I couldn't, or didn't, want to write the story alone. I wanted to see where others could take it.
I'll give a quick review of each one and you can see why the topics above are so important.
Dry Valley: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=16326192&postcount=1 is a modern day story revolving around a woman who has returned to the Texas town in which she grew up. There are two romances that blossom in this story, as well as the need to seek out and capture a villain and serve out some justice, Texas style.
The writers ranged in experience and worked well together in order to create a tale that led Jessica through various obstacles before creating the ending we were all satisfied with. We had to recall details of many characters, referring back to the cheat sheet, which I often delete once a chain is complete (I will do my best to leave Kismet's alone because of this "How to").
There were five authors involved. If my memory serves me correctly, scheduling wasn't too much of an issue for this chain. The first chapter was approved by Literotica in May of 2006 and the final on September 2006. There were a total of 20 chapters.
Laresa's World: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=18762221&postcount=1 is the unique story of a genie that lives inside a ring, not a bottle. The cheat sheet was instrumental in the telling of Laresa, because we had to recall her Masters/Mistresses through all her "life". We needed to reach back into the stories and pull elements that would forever be woven into her story because as a genie, we writers took Laresa all over the world and all over time.
Some of the authors chose to take Laresa on side journeys; she was that loved by all of us. The chain spun a web that reached beyond anything any of us imagined and even now some of us see sequels from the characters that Laresa interacted with, whether they were mortal or Jinn. Was there much drama on the chain? Not that I can recall, and scheduling for the most part I believe went very well.
There were seven writers in the chain – one brand spanking new! The first chapter posted on August 29, 2006; the final chapter on May 2, 2007. It took 25 chapters to bring our Laresa to where she is now... waiting for you.
A Royal Sacrifice: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=22369159&postcount=1 has that old medieval/magic mystery appeal. There is a village girl who becomes Queen, a handsome Prince with a tawdry past, a stuffy old prude of a Chancellor, and a devoted ladies maid. Heroes and heroines are made while trying to defeat the evil one – the Spectra that walks – Bagdemagus.
The toughest part of this chain was the scheduling. Many of us were working on various projects as well as stumbling along in life. I was (still am) a fan of many of the writers in this chain and felt intimated at many points in the constructing of it. So much so that my mind blocked when the end came near and I offered to give someone else the opportunity to write the closing chapter. Kindly the group waited until I was ready. I gathered my thoughts and put the final dot on another wonderfully written tale that would have been nothing without the help of so many talented individuals.
One writer, who I will not mention by name – because she asked her work to be pulled from the site – contributed three chapters to the chain. Sadly when her work disappeared, so did her chapters. Darkniciad and I went to work patching up the missing pieces. At the time that I am constructing this "How To" Dark has the final missing piece off to his editor and it will soon be gracing the pages of Lit.
Pulled work/missing chapters – this too is an unexpected hiccup in a chain, but as the creator you have to decide whether to fix the holes, or ask others to help you fix them.
Six writers and 23 chapters later we completed Evelyn's story. The chain's first appearance to Lit. was on May 24, 2007 and with all its ups and downs, as well as broken bits that are almost mended, the final chapter was placed on April 2010! (Granted that isn't counting chapters 8, 13, and 19 which we rewrote this year (2012))! Remember, I did mention flexibility for the schedule.
Enchanted Twelve: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=24649288&postcount=1 is the most difficult chain story I've ever undertaken. It is a story revolving around 12 princesses, the men in their lives, the journey each one takes through a mystical portal and how they awaken to the truth of what is happening to them. Imagine chaos, but somewhat controlled and you have the makings of this chain story.
The cheat sheet was handy, but not necessarily as important as all the other chains mentioned above, or Kismet below. With this chain the cheat sheet was there mainly for when the characters were used as "blimps" in another contributor's work. Scheduling was also hectic, folks dropped out very early on, people disappeared, and when the thread was restarted, it faltered. Most of this chain is complete, yet there are parts I can't fix, because of the type of chain it is.
If you can recall the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" then you can see why this would be a hard story to construct. Each writer took on the task of creating the story for one, two, or three sisters. They told one story within two worlds. We had a world similar to medieval times, where no magic existed and one where everything and everyone was a part of magic. There was a mystery to solve, romance to weave, battles to fight, corruption to unhinge. Every writer had a plot within a plot.
Seven brave souls stepped into the chain and created a total of 28 chapters that took almost - to the date - 4 years to complete. The main plot of the story has been written under my pen name. The other side stories are very close to being done, and eagerly await your take on their happily ever after.
Kismet: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=26080517&postcount=1 began when I noticed an avatar another Lister used on the boards. It is from the painting "The Slave Market" by Jean-Léon Gérôme dated around 1867. This chain is currently in production. It hit a snag from the beginning, but after the muse and life returned to a more normal state, things resumed.
Afsoon is our main character. She is the daughter of an English woman and a powerful Sultan. She's been raised in high society, as well as knows her hand around weaponry. Unfortunately Afsoon's life is not one of glamour. She and her mother are sold into slavery and a web of political intrigue and romance begins.
We are currently eight chapters deep into this chain, the ninth is about to be approved and posted to Lit. I do hope that you take time to enjoy the beginnings of a promising story.
From all of those "reviews" above, you can see why a cheat sheet, a schedule, and the diplomacy of politics are a must. Much of the stories' plots revolve around key characters. How flexible your schedule is and how easily you can put your ego aside can make or break a book chain.
A glimpse is a peek at a much larger picture. Maybe you focus on a community and the workings within a city block. You move from house to house, never truly tying the neighbors together with anything more than one or two facts. Perhaps they all live on the 700 block of Dowling Street, in Manifesto, Nebraska. Perhaps all the characters are entwined only because they attend the same church, or confess to the same clergyman.
An initial schedule needs to be posted, but it isn't detrimental that it be maintained. The cheat sheet can be tossed aside unless you make the specific instructions that all stories must take place within a room, or have a key element that must be carried through to every chapter. There really is no middle/beginning/end to a glimpse. It's opened ended.
What about politics? There shouldn't be any. You don't have to read every story, because you most likely won't be using the other writers' characters. You still SHOULD read every story, because you asked these writers to tag along on the glimpse with you.
On the Bus: http://forum.literotica.com/showpost.php?p=17324261&postcount=1 is my only glimpse chain. It revolves around the travelers riding a cross-country bus. They stop at bus terminals; they stop in towns for breakfast, supper. There might be the occasional detour because of road construction, or maybe the bus breaks down and there is a layover while a new bus and driver are brought in.
My two contributions were:
On the Bus: Naughty Whispers – a young girl is pleasured by a man she has enjoyed conversing with, only to find something different when her passion is sated.
On the Bus: Oral Concert - is a masturbation story with a man taking his pleasures out on himself, while watching two girls enjoy each other. Since I wrote both of these stories I did link them together, but only with one line at the end of Oral Concert.
As of this morning, five folks have contributed to the chain and seven glimpses have been written. So if you're looking for a quick way to write a fun "stroke" story on a bus, feel free to slip into the forum and post on the thread. Be sure to follow the guidelines as far as how to title your story and by all means share your idea! When the story posts let me know, send me a PM from the forums or a feedback email, so I can post a link to your story in the thread!
In closing I just want to thank you for taking the time to read my take on constructing a good chain story. I hope you found it helpful and I look forward to seeing some of you on the boards, eager to start your own chain, or tag along with me. ~ Red