Writing ‘Penny Meets the Neighbors’

As I mentioned in my last post, the project I’m currently working on is a long story called Penny Meets the Neighbors. Now that I’m getting close to finishing it, I wanted to put down a few thoughts on the writing process. (The story will be released in eight parts, each about 7000 words long. I’m about two-thirds through Part 8 right now. After that there is only a final edit to do, and it will be ready for publishing).

The story idea came about as a request from a reader, Mark, who wanted something featuring his wife, Penny. Six months ago, I was still a very new writer, and I was flattered by the request, pleased that someone had read my work and liked it enough to ask me to write them a story. At the time, I imagined I was going to produce something maybe 15,000 words long, tops. The plot outline Mark suggested featured Penny cast as a naïve woman being seduced into lesbianism by a group of neighbours who gathered for weekly pool parties. Mark made it very clear that in reality, both he and Penny were experienced swingers, although Penny had recently ‘lost confidence’. I even received some photos, which both gave me a good idea of Penny’s physical appearance, and confirmed she and Mark had swung in the past.

Once I’d got about 20,000 words into the story, I realised it was going to be a lot longer than I had originally planned! By this time, Penny had started to correspond with me directly. The fact she liked my story kept me writing, but her requests for extra plot elements were making the story even longer. The biggest addition was her request to incorporate her sister into the plot. About this time, I came across a story, Penny and the Lingerie Party – the title caught my eye, both for the name, and the fact one of Mark’s original requests had been for the story to incorporate a lingerie party as part of Penny’s seduction (it doesn’t – I couldn’t make that work for me, so omitted it). Skimming over the first few paragraphs, it was quickly clear that the story was about the same couple. I closed it, not wanting to ‘taint’ my interpretation of Penny with someone else’s ideas. Evidently I wasn’t the only writer Mark and Penny correspond with…

Sometime later, with my curiosity piqued, I searched more thoroughly. It quickly became obvious that Mark and Penny had made similar requests to a great many writers. Conservatively, I’d guess that at least ten writers have produced work about Penny and Mark, spread over at least twenty-one separate stories, many of which have multiple chapters. Based on the titles and descriptions, pretty much all of the stories are centred on the same basic plot points – Penny’s seduction by lesbians at a succession of parties, either by the pool or at lingerie parties, Penny’s seduction of her sister Marina, and Penny’s introduction to swinging.

So, all this is to say that whilst I’ve enjoyed writing Penny Meets the Neighbors, and I’m pretty happy with what I have produced; in terms of plot, there is absolutely nothing original in what I’m about to submit. I have no intention of reading any of the other stories, but if you’re reading this, and are interested in comparing my work with that of the other writers, I’d love to hear from you. I am curious/vain enough to wonder how my work compares to all the other Penny and Mark stories, but would appreciate an independent opinion!

All the best, Philip.

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