DEBRIEF | Time To Dance (Threesome: Him, Him and Me)

I’m shamelessly stealing the following blog format from the excellent B.R. Sanders, who’s been posting these about their own short fiction. (Seriously, I’ve even stolen the title.) Partly this serves as a shameless announcement (Hey you! Go read my story!), partly a record of my writing along side the record of reading that this blog exists as. But I also think that writers don’t always talk about the industry as much as they should, and I find it fascinating to read about when other writers so perhaps someone will enjoy it in return. (It sure helps when you receive your 27th rejection note to be able to read of other stories that have met the same fate.)

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Time To Dance: three gay teens in a three-way relationship head for their prom…

Publication date: March 2016

Completion date: November 2015

Number of times subbed: n/a

Placing the story: So, placing isn’t really the right word. I know it’s painfully gauche to include a story by yourself in an anthology edited by yourself, but in this case I had never actually intended to. In early October ’15 I had the line-up for the Threesome anthology locked down, with one story outstanding, that unfortunately fell through by the end of November, leaving me to write to fill the slot.

The story was designed to specifically fit a specific bracket: it would slot in the first section of the collection (the character/story-driven, non-smut section) and it would feature a positive representation of a three-way relationship (I received a great deal of triad relationships stories during open submissions, but they were all problematic. They usually involved one partner pushing the other into accepting a third, or the break-up of relationships over trying to incorporate a third. I received few that took a three-way relationship at face value, and gave a completely positive representation, and I wanted one.) The original story was YA-ish one (or coming-of-age, I suppose, given how very un-YA the anthology is) and featured three gay teens finding a way to go to prom together, and that was all I knew about the story.

The story of the story: I quite liked the original prom concept, and so I stuck with it. I wrote it in two days flat (and it’s a long story, standing at 9k by the time I’d finished…) which was probably the fastest I’ve ever written. So fast that, with the completed first draft, I hadn’t the faintest clue whether what I’d written was gold or dross, and it required some rigorous editing to pull the whole thing together.

In the interests of writing fast, I unashamedly mined my own adolescence. A good deal of the religious-upbringing stuff is nicked wholesale from my own upbringing (and at one point I had cast Huw’s parents as those of a childhood friend of mine’s parents. My beta-reader edited them out, saying they were too over-the-top to be believed. So… there was that!), as well as various other moments that I wound together to make one whole story. I found myself falling a little bit in love with the central trio actually, and sorely tempted to write more about them.

Writing the story, I listened to the titular Time To Dance by The Jezebels pretty much on loop. Once, I loved it. Now it makes me shudder. (I’m a fan of soundtracks for fiction, by the way, and I recommend listening to the song alongside the story. I reckon it adds, but that might just be me.)

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