Before Chapter Seven came out, I was peppered with comments and emails telling me that there were too many loose ends and different perspectives in Mutual Benefits to keep in mind, and that some clarification would have been helpful, since all of these vague bits of information were confusing for readers.
First of all: yeah, how do you think I feel?!
I’m really not a very good writer when it comes to subtlety, in all honesty. I’m very ‘everything or nothing’ as a writer. Either there’s a lot left up to interpretation, or nothing is left up to interpretation. I mean, for goodness sakes, in And Ophelia Blinked, the villain at the end gives this monologue about exactly what he did, for exactly what purpose, with his exact motivation. Normally I balk at the criticism of “show don’t tell” (99% of the time a lot of ‘telling’ in writing is showing through telling) but this was definitely an example of now showing.
Chapter Seven does its best to clarify a couple confusing loose ends. Not only do we now know Morgan’s feelings about Quinn, but also, rereading the last two chapters with these feelings in mind maybe makes things clearer. It’s always so obvious when the fact is known – I thought I was being too obvious in the last chapter but given how many people saw Chapter Seven as a revelation, I was incorrect.
I’m trying my best to balance those bits of vagueness where you don’t always quite know a character’s motivation with clarity. No story, let alone erotica, is very enjoyable when the entire time, you’re reading with a confused face repeating, “…What?” to yourself. In Being More Social, through sheer beginner’s luck, I actually balanced this quite well, through Nicole mostly, in that she clearly has hidden motivations but is on Adam’s side just enough to be, in general, trustworthy.
I feel like this story is a bit harder to balance in that way, and as a result, a bit of my weakness is bleeding through. Either I’m confusing people with all of the ambiguity, or I’m dedicating an entire chapter to revelations where a character point-blank explains their motivations to the lead character, and may as well be explaining it directly to the reader. I’m obviously being a tad more harsh with myself than I would be if Mutual Benefits wasn’t my story, but, it’s one of the biggest things I’m trying to work on at the moment, hence my strong feelings on the matter.
Mutual Benefits will continue to have its twists. We still don’t know a lot of the character motivations. Heck, maybe some of these motivations will never be fully explained in this story itself. I will say, I hope to God I get better at subtle yet ‘just confusing enough’ storytelling by the time my next longform story begins, because I think I’m going to need it…
I hope you all are enjoying where the story is going. It’s fun to write and it’s fun to explore the character dynamics. I hope the story continues to bring you all joy. I’ll talk to you all next week.