The art of seduction, or …
Last week I spoke about How to resist the temptation of a new, shiny story idea’s flirtatious advances — at least for the time of your marriage to the WIP. But ultimately, you’ll have to part with your finished work and get back on the market for new possible suitors (stories). I’m phrasing it this way around, because I regularly feel like I am being approached by new ideas instead of me pursuing them.
There is always a long row of ideas that give me winks or suddenly bare it all in an attempt to grab my full attention. Some succeed, and for different duration. I always try to NOT give in at once and jump right at a story, but let it cook a little inside my head. I fantasise a lot before getting my hands on the keyboard/story. This fantasising is plotting. I take notes of every idea that I find appealing, look at it from different angles and try to figure out its flaws. I imagine all the things I could do with that story dude (to fall back into my previous metaphor of the story as a hot, flirtatious guy that just won’t leave you alone …), but won’t give in too quickly. I’m not called the “queen of anticipation” for nothing 😉
For me, slow equals sexy. So when the moment of action is there, it is even more exciting and satisfying! Give it some thought, look behind the facade, is that shiny, hot idea maybe just a shallow simpleton who loses his appeal the moment you let him talk? I want some depth in my dudes (oh, sorry: stories!), some intelligence and character. For every story as much as real life, character and depth make for an interesting encounter. Not only in my historical fiction, but ALSO when it comes to erotica — a genre that can look quite shallow and which takes a skilled writer to make it really “something special” (Maybe that’s why I have to avoid being too wordy in erotic stories, I always want some character development and atmosphere to increase the excitement). I prefer a slow seduction with space to fantasise to the quick and rushed encounter. Talking stories here, people! Tsk.
On good sex scenes
The creation of good (i.e. gripping) characters is as important as the technicality of a good sex scene. Or no: technically, the love-making can be rather uninspired, as long as readers love the characters and feel for them deeply, so they just wanna see the couple interact. Then it only takes the touch of a finger to set them/the readers on fire! In fact, too much technicality and complication in a sex scene spoils the fun for me. I want to be able to relate and feel with them, not wonder “what on earth are they doing with their limbs …”!
A slow seduction is always hot. And even hotter when done with some common history and depth to the relationship. This is just my opinion, because from experience I think that a sex scene (or every other encounter) is always hotter when the author did her job of building characters and atmosphere beforehand, as this increases the WANT in them and in the reader. The pleasure is greater if there is some exciting, dangerous, confusing, or just crabwise history, as in every relationship. The seduction will be more exciting with longer anticipation. It will give more meaning to the touches.
Making love to your story dude
I know many people enjoy the fun and excitement of jumping right into an affair, and it can be super-hot to give in to a temptation exactly on the spot. But for writers, this may only work for short stories, where you can give an exciting idea almost free reign and see where your fantasy leads you. This “I’ll just see where this goes” is fun, because it lacks the reservation of the “think before you write” — and by the gods, am I a pantser, too? — but it is also dangerous, as I repeatedly had to learn with my stories that after an initial spark I had nowhere else to go. Especially a longer relationship (a novel) needs a lot of thinking and critical examination — and repeatedly at its various stages — in order to work. This is what psychologists call relationship work. Writing a novel is always “working on a relationship“.
So before grabbing that attractive story dude by the collar and dragging him with you into your (writing) bedroom, ask yourself:
What do I want from this hot, new idea?
Is it so appealing you just can’t resist and shove all sensible inhibitions away, forgetting about your current marriage to that WIP? Just so you can “do it” straight away, before it loses its lustre? Then be warned that this may only be a short affair. It could end badly. Because: even with a lot of thinking and planning (i.e. plotting, outlining, whatever) every story relationship can go wrong! Also the best thought-through ones.
But if you’re lucky, a story fling in between the boring marathon of a novel is exactly what you need: the distraction and energy of the heat of the moment! Then go for it, as long as it doesn’t endanger your relationship with your WIP. A quick, steamy encounter with a hot (even shallow) story dude can be so satisfying!
And sometimes we are lucky that the one-night-stand develops into something longer, and you really get to think hard how to make the new and old relationships work for you — or which of the two story dudes you need to drop. A great new story relationship could come out of this, or just a short, memorable night of fun with something you wouldn’t want to make public, but keep locked in the drawer of your mind. Whatever the outcome, every affair has the danger of being just a short flare-up. We can regret the distraction from the main lover (WIP) later, or just laugh and count it as experience.
I feel like I’m suddenly advocating the story fling! Oh!
Let’s say, a short story fling is always possible in between a long-term novel relationship. It can be quick and exciting, or quick and chaotic, or quick and farewell. Or it can grow into something serious and threaten the current novel marriage. And if you feel in your gut that this is right to pursue, then so be it. Abandon the hubby-story. Put him where you can get back to him in case you made a mistake. Or bury him forever in the yard of fowl manuscripts.
Shsh, we’ve all been there. Every writer has a whole graveyard of old, fucked-up stories she killed. We can keep those secret, can we? 😉
But what if we feel this new story dude is just too good to resist?
If we feel like this handsome, exciting story idea deserves a real try, and maybe there is no other story relationship hindering us at that moment, we can either jump straight in and see what happens, OR we can take the slower route, with a long-term love affair in mind. I’d always go for slow, did I mention that?
Especially if we want a serious novel-length relationship, we should take a step back and think hard. About all the facets that are to this story idea. Could we make it work? We would need to know much more about the new suitor to avoid a major disappointment. Or another killing for the manuscript graveyard.
A slower approach, realistic evaluation, and dreamy fantasising about all the possible turns a story could take can make the actual encounter so much more rewarding than just losing yourself in the heat of the moment. If you give your story idea time to develop, it will improve. With good characterisation, atmosphere and depth (even in a short story) and a history, the exciting bits are even more satisfying. And as in all longer relationships: the fun part (i.e. the love-making WITH your book or IN your book) can be a major aspect, but not its only reason to exist (that would be food for a short story or fling).
If your story dude deserves a relationship marathon, you’d put up with all his aspects. You’d be willing to try. You’d want to avoid the boring bits that come with every long marriage, but be prepared for them and better them. Every relationship has its lows. Only with an open mind, the will to work hard on the many different facets, and some depth to your relationship you will stay happily married to your story dude all book long.
Being seduced by a story idea is filled with the same fears/shyness you’d have in real life, if that super-hot, breathtaking dude finally jumped out of your dreams and materialised:
- Sometimes it needs real courage to approach him.
- Sometimes it is easier than you thought.
- Sometimes it just doesn’t work out as planned and you run and admit your mistake.
- Sometimes the story seems to never end, although the spark is gone, and this can also be dangerous — because it blocks your mind for all the better options you could have. Writer, beware of the endless editing, rewriting, altering of your story. Sometimes sticking to your idea too long is unhealthy and blocking your development.
- And sometimes the seduction of that hot story dude becomes a really satisfying love-affair, one that you can relish every moment of and where you can grow together, writer-you and story-lover. Your relationship can be so good, you keep coming back, no matter what distractions other stories offer.
- Or you live boldly and have that main relationship with your favourite partner, but also regularly give in to shorter story flings that spice up your life, without harming the long-term relationship (maybe it turns into a book series that is loved SO MUCH by you and your readers that it deserves to live a very long publishing life).
It’s like in real-life: as long as you don’t lose sight of each other, you and your favourite story, and you still value each other and see a future for you, all will be good in the end. And if it’s not good, it’s maybe not the end yet — you can always try to make your relationship work!
I wish you a wealth of wonderful story relationships, long or short, and many exciting seductions by ideas you just couldn’t resist! Your comments are most welcome!
If you enjoyed this and the last blog, I am excited to announce that they are just the foreplay to a whole series of blogs I plan from next week on the topic of “How to write sex with style”. I want to share my experience (writing-wise!) of how to approach this aspect of a book or even genre (sex scenes can be just one aspect in a multi-faceted book or THE aspect in an erotica piece). I cannot offer you scientific insight into what my author colleagues do or what would probably be “best” to do. I’ll just share my thoughts and approach, and maybe one or two examples from my work (or other authors, given enough time to research those, because, as I stated here, I don’t read my own writing genres much).
So bear with me, I’ll try my best to deliver (and sticking out my neck with an announcement puts welcome pressure on myself!). I’ll bare my writing-heart, enjoy the seduction!
AND most importantly: make use of the mailing list option that will be ready simultaneously from next week, so you’ll stay informed about my new blogs, stories, publications, handstands … 😉