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.
3 thoughts on “Subtlety VS Confusion”
Very relatable. As long as we get stuff clarified every once in a while, like this time it was the Milo talk and Morgan feelings, then there’s still some feeling of relief and contentment, which I do value every time a chapter is out. The balance of going crazy with questions, and slowly receiving answers, is tough to maintain in every chapter, but as long as neither side is zero, it’s enjoyable to read.
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The whole thing about Morgan having a crush on Quinn was pretty clear to me before chapter 7, but I thought Milo’s revelation was going to be why she has those feelings.
Also, I think you balanced Nicole perfectly because I got the impression that the character doesn’t understand her own emotions half the time. That was really well portrayed when you explored her relationship with Phil more in Only If You Want.
Although it’s never explicitly said, I believe she is enamoured with Adam in the first few chapters, realises he’s naive and not very self aware, then concludes she overestimated him. Nicole then explores her relationship with Phil on a whim after that council meeting showdown, then thinks she likes him too. The story then concludes with her deciding that Adam’s good intentions and dedication to self improvement are worth investing in.
None of that is explicitly said of course, and lust and love tend to become confusingly entangled. But my point is that Being More Social left a lot to the imagination in terms of emotional motives begind actions. Taylor seems to like control, I imagine that will develop more and become the basis of future conflict in the upcoming love triangle, but that isn’t as nuanced as a genius girl that has no idea what she wants or why.
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I was pretty sure that Morgan had a crush on Quinn already in chapter 5 when she blushed while talking to him, and you basically confirmed it when she went to see him at work, so I’m surprised people saw chapter 7 as a revelation.
And I don’t think that there are too many loose ends, the two main things we’re missing are Taylor’s motivations, and what his brother did to get him out of trouble (and a more general understanding of what his brother does at school that he wants to keep secret). It’s good to have a bit of mystery.
I’ll just say, I hope you don’t add too much drama to the story. That’s the only problem I had with Being More Social towards the end, it felt like you were adding drama on top of drama, and I think it didn’t always add any value to the overall story or characters. Obviously, the drama is part of your style, and is what makes your stories so good, just don’t overdo it :p
Anyway, I’m loving the story, and I look forward to the next chapter!
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