On this beautiful Saturday morning at 5:30 am (don't look at me, I'm on my way to bed!) I thought I would talk about something that's been on my mind lately, since I've been asked about it a few times. It has to do with how I approach full length novels and short stories, particularly in the Ren'Ai Rensai series.
If you've read any number of them, you've probably noticed that there are sometimes very different approaches, sometimes within the same subsection. In general, the full length novels focus on the plot of the relationship between Aiko and Reina (and others, because lol polyamory.) Usually this is a snag or a huge chance that they're going through, such as moving in together, or dealing with gender roles and affection. Entwined with this is the sexual side as well, as that usually goes hand in hand with the plot since that's just how they roll.
Shorts are a different beast. They're usually smaller ideas that take place outside of the timeline of the novels, or are deleted scenes that just didn't fit in the novels. (Like "Mitsushin.") The shorts have a somewhat different function. They primarily focus on the sexual side of their relationship, and usually culminates in (or has scattered throughout) a climatic sex scene that brings the overarching theme together. Many kind readers have assured me that they enjoy the plot just as much as the sex, if not more, but I feel like I should say that the shorts aren't really about plot in the same sense the novels are. The novels are about how one big thing brings Reina and Aiko together and moves them forward in their development. The shorts are about the little, sexier things that make their days brighter.
Within the shorts, though, there are some other things I have to think about. I consider that there are two kinds of shorts: the first are self-contained stories that any new reader could pick up and enjoy, without needing much context from the overall series. The other kind are the shorts that I think would be best enjoyed by readers who have been following Aiko and Reina for a while now, and heavily depend on context. These are the ones that I offer for free and cross my fingers on. I have been burned by this before, in which readers did not like them much because of a lack of context. That's fine. It's a risk I take in my marketing strategies. Usually this latter type of story ends up being pulled out of Select after one or two runs and is uploaded to other vendors, like iTunes and B&N. I want my readers on those outlets to be able to enjoy some shorts as well, and it might as well be the ones that need context! ("Mitsushin." was the first to get this treatment. The next will be "Shimoneta.")
Then of course there are the two-part shorts that switch between POVs. An example of this would be "Nanpakai." and "Chinseki." The latter is difficult to enjoy on its own without the first part, but I think it can be done. And it has been done. One of my kindest readers got their start with "Chinseki." (Which happens to be my favorite short!) There will be another set of two-parters coming out later this year, and I think a lot of readers will like where it's going.
So that's how that works. Will I write an RR short that doesn't have a sex scene in it or at least revolves around sex? Highly doubtful. That just wouldn't be the RR way. But somehow, I think most people are A-OK with that. ;)