Insight: Sex, Love, and Character Development

When it comes to storytelling, starting from a point of action is generally considered the best way to go because it pulls the reader into the story. However, the characters that populate each story are there to move the plot forward. They work, they live their lives, and their actions move the plot forward.

Depending on the story being written, there are times when two or more characters will come together in personal relationships. The relationships can take the form of acquaintances, friendships and even lovers. But how to express this without degenerating into the literary version of Porn is akin to walking a tightrope. In this installment, I’ll attempt to give my opinion on how to do this without turning your story into the aforementioned literary porn.

1. Sex: Okay, we all do it and since our characters are people, they will do it as well. I won’t give you the Sex Talk about where Tab A fits into Slot B because we all adults here. Writing a sex scene is a prime example of “Show, not Tell” in that you want to project a fly on the wall perspective without turning the scene into a letter to Penthouse Forum or worse, any of the multitudes of so-called erotica that tends to populate the Internet. 50 Shades of Grey aside, good writing doesn’t bind itself to mindless scenes of penises going into vaginas or other bodily orifices. Rule of Thumb: if it doesn’t advance the Plot or give insight into a Character, leave it out.

2. Love: Ah yes, that mysterious happenstance that makes the World go round. Everyone that has a modicum of emotions falls in love. It happens. Having two characters fall in love (and out, as the case may be) isn’t quite as tricky so long as the progression is reasonable and MAKES SENSE. Remember that you’re the God or Goddess of your story world so you can make anything happen. However, the reader needs to be able to identify with what’s happening and if you kill their suspension of disbelief, they may not be able to recover enough to continue on with the story. We may not be able to plan how it works in Real Life, but in Fiction, we can map out an entire set of circumstances. I say that a little imagination combined with personal experiences can go a long way. Remember the Rule of Thumb that I mentioned in #1.

3. Character Development: Finally, we’re going to bring the above concepts together and use them in shaping our characters’ emotional contexts. We can give our characters names, jobs, circumstances, and so on, but when they go off the rails, it’s our job to embrace the diversion and get the most out of it. Looking at each character’s personality traits and motivations will help to determine how the Sex and Love will either enhance them or lead them down a path to destruction. How they deal with these two items will determine where they go as they journey through the Story and no two sets of circumstances will work out the same way. I find that using the Rule of Thumb helps avoid a lot of potential problems.

Anyway, that’s it for this installment and thanks for reading. This is obviously my opinion and should not be taken as fact. In the end, it’s your story and you should proceed as you see fit. See you next time and Ever Forward.

Insight: Standalone Book or Book Series?

My readers have brought to my attention recently how much they have enjoyed Corona, The Three Safeties, and Vessel, and asked me if I have considered doing sequels to those stories. Truth to tell, after putting them out and promoting them (on Amazon), I had moved back to working on Parallax full time and not given them much thought.

It’s easy to sit there after chewing on a great story and ponder what new adventures await the characters and settings. Heck, I’ve done it myself. However, a lot of work goes into my stories and so, the possibility of sequels require some serious considerations.

When I sit down and prepare to write a story, I have to decide beforehand whether or not it will be a one and only story or the beginning of a series. Here are some of the things that I ponder when making the final decision:

1. Does the initial story establish enough of the world to expand upon? This is a big one because the story world often dictates where the recurring characters will go next.

2. Are there any unresolved issues from the initial plotline that can be expanded upon? I don’t like leaving plots hanging as a general rule, though I will admit to leaving just enough wiggle room for future installments.

3. Am I doing this for myself only or for the audience itself? That’s a balancing act, because although I do write for my own amusement first, I also publish and publishing involves creating material that entertains my audience and ultimately covering my writing expenses.

4. Do I have the time to invest in a series versus a multitude of standalone stories? Time is finite and what I invest in one story takes away from other potential material.

Granted, these are only four considerations, but they are significant enough to help me decide if the story I’m doing is a one-shot effort or a long term multi-installment commitment.

In the end though, the final decision rests with that mysterious tickler file inside my brain that tells me what story gets written before another.

Until next time….Ever Forward. 🙂

Insight: Why I Self-Publish

Happy New Year 2015, and it’s time to hit the ground running…..

Before I start, allow me to thank all of those who have purchased Corona, The Three Safeties, and Vessel from Amazon. It pleases me immensely that you all have enjoyed the stories that I have presented so far and I give you my promise that the best is yet to come. That being said, let’s get on with my first Blog Post for the new year.

I am self-publishing through Amazon. There, I said it. There are many reasons why I chose to present my stories in this way and I suppose the most honest reason is that I’ve not been able to crack the traditional publishing market up to now. Why? My work may not be considered profitable enough for a traditional publisher to risk resources on, I’m not established enough to be a known quantity, or simply that they don’t like my sense of humor. 😉

Whatever the reason, I chose to self-publish because the benefits of sharing my writing with the world outweighed any potential stigma that may still be attached to not going the traditional route. If it were solely about money, I would have abandoned a professional writing career long ago because with my accumulated skills I would have easily picked up a more lucrative occupation.

I would still write though because it’s in my blood and there’s no cure for that sort of infection. You just do it. I will say that I do enjoy having control over my material and taking it from a simple manuscript to a polished book. It doesn’t take away from my creativity. In fact, it enhances it because I KNOW how both sides of the equation work, from writing to editing to formatting to promoting the finished product.

Would I stop should a traditional publisher come my way? Absolutely. However, I deal with the here and now, not the someday might come. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some time and effort to make it happen but making things happen has always been my modus operandi.

Anyway, I have a half-dozen resolutions to keep so it’s back to working on Parallax and a bunch of projects behind it.

Have a great new year and ever forward. 🙂