It can get challenging writing an increasing amount of characters and constantly having to keep up with their own goals and motivations. I really enjoy the kinds of opportunities that can open up after a while of this, particularly the lies and half-truths – we often say what sounds best in the real world, instead of just announcing our intentions when they sound bad, so why should characters be any different? But this comes with the difficulty of having to remember all of these perspectives, keeping them consistent, and knowing that eventually, a boiling point becomes inevitable.
Remembering, for whatever reason, has rarely been the challenging part for me. Unless I’ve taken a break of 3+ months for a chapter, I’ve been able to remember the memories and motivations of my characters decently successfully. The challenge comes from keeping them consistent, and, more importantly, handling what happens when everything comes to a head. Chapter nine of Mutual Benefits was one of those moments.
In a lazy stroke story, Morgan bursting in on Taylor and Quinn would have been random and would have resulted in a threesome. It’s funny; for most authors that would be commonplace, but I feel like I’ve trained my own audience to be so buildup-dependent that I think people would comment angrily and demand a rewrite or something. Some day I’m going to write a particularly lazy story and this training is going to bite me in the ass.
In a sex story that attempts to emulate reality, a few things need to be considered. For example, why does Morgan walk in on Taylor and Quinn? It could be that she was coming over to hang out with Taylor and it was all coincidence, but to be honest, I’ve grown to hate coincidences. I think they happen too often in my stories as it is, and when they’re too blatant, they only cause eye-rolling. So, if it’s not coincidence, it’s planned. Why’s it planned? The only reasons to plan a third person seeing the other two is either because the third party suspects it, or one of the two wants her to see. My imagination went with the latter, using Taylor’s pain at some recent chapter of her past and blaming Morgan for it while using Quinn as the vehicle of that anger and pain, because, to be frank, Taylor likes to have the upper hand on everyone.
The second thing to consider was what would happen afterwards. Again, in a lazy sex story, threesome. In an insufferable soap opera story, tears and the ever-dramatic “Betrayal, Quinn! Betrayal! Never speak to me again!” and Morgan running off tearfully or something. Call me a cynic, but that sounds like an eyeroll-inducer too. So I let the scene unfold and tried my hardest to let each character’s response to the situation build on their characters as much as possible. A lot that happened in the scene were things I myself wasn’t expecting to see.
For example, I can now see the extent to which Morgan removes herself from situations. The fact that she approached it in a calculated manner and let her anger channel through authority instead of force was key to her personality, and interesting to watch. As implied, she needed a long while to get the initial tears and anger out, but afterwards, she could look at the situation as a situation, not just a thing threatening her. She’s cautious and doesn’t get too close to things initially which helps her make rational decisions in the heat of the moment, and also explains her introduction to Quinn, both in terms of how detached she seemed and how she landed on him instantly for being too unfriendly with Taylor.
Taylor herself is not rational. She’s an emotional person. The situation to her was an eye for an eye towards Morgan, and anything thrown her way was met with defense. To her, this is not a situation that needs to be resolved. This is a battle of will, and any moment of weakness is an opportunity the others can use to turn the tables on her.
Quinn is a kind of a mix. He wants to be the rational one, but his lack of experience in interpersonal matters makes him flustered and weak to human impulses such as being defensive. Perhaps this was something I always felt while writing, but never knew. The altercation, as a result, was a metaphor for the story in general and where it’s been heading for the past few chapters – it started with Taylor holding all of the cards and pure emotions ruling the story without thinking of the consequences, and slowly, as Morgan became a bigger and more important character, so too did the process of understanding and dealing with these situations become more prominent, as well as something Quinn becomes slowly better at.
The last thing that makes boiling points kind of difficult to write is what comes after the event finishes. I normally don’t dissect my own writing like this, but this chapter was fun for its revelations about the characters I myself have been writing for months. It’s like discovering a friend has a secret double life or something. But after that discovery, then what? I need to play my cards carefully, or people will think the story should have ended at chapter nine. You know how TV shows will often “jump the shark”? It’s usually after key moments like a fight or a character moving away or something. If I’m not careful, by virtue of making one moment in my story seems incredibly important, I’ll make the rest of the story dull by comparison. Here’s hoping the next few chapters will still be entertaining. I’ll talk to you all next week.