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.

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