One of my favorite things in writing is getting an unexpected rush of inspiration, like you suddenly realize where things are going and the exact things everyone is saying and doing. Sometimes writing can be a daunting process where you don’t really want to keep going because the inspiration well has run dry, but these moments make writing competely worth it.
Interestingly, at this point my written-out plan of Mutual Benefits barely resembles what has been written, but this is only a good thing. My written plan for chapter 13 was much less exciting, much less personable, and had less overarching themes of the story. After reading the chapter, it may seem like I had particular moments coming for a while, but you’d be surprised to know, the most fundamental parts of this chapter were actually last-minute changes to the story.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CHAPTER 13, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
The confrontation, and this chapter as a whole, feels like a turning point. I do not want to go over the subtext in great detail, but effectively the chapter feels montage-ish in the way that clearly character change is happening, perhaps even rapidly so. (My inner voice is nagging at me about my “pacing problem” again.)
It comes with a bit of baggage, interestingly, both inside and outside of the story. I never intended for Quinn to have a whole arc related to what Taylor did with him, although it feels right at this juncture to do so. At the same time, I’m very worried that I’ll paint the wrong picture with it. The last thing I want to communicate is that, for a man, “character growth” is akin to being a sub and liking it, then “realizing” that he’s a masculine manly man and he is naturally supposed to dominate. Ever heard of “toxic masculinity?” Textbook example. Masculinity isn’t toxic, but the notion you have to check off a bunch of stereotypes on a checklist or you’re not a “real man” absolutely is.
So, for the record, whether you’re a man or a woman or neither, dominating and submitting aren’t measures of your worth to someone, or a competition, or even an inherent symbol of status. Sadists like to pretend otherwise, but they’re wrong. Quinn didn’t know what he wanted, and he and Taylor experimented, and experimented under a power dynamic (the dynamic we normally love, popular girl who holds all the cards and shy nerd) that in retrospect was a little fucked up. Exploring that as a theme, partially because sex stories normally go nuts for the subgenre, is fascinating. To an extent, this power dynamic is more akin to what would occur in the real world, compared to most “stereotypical” stories, yes? This is the shit I live for.
So again, I had to walk the tightrope carefully. On one end, Taylor deserved to be called out for not approaching the situation with grace. On the other hand, this isn’t an issue of non-consent, and it’s clear that this is yet another example of “Bashful Scribe wrote a story about the nuances of consent,” more than ever, without me even realizing at the time. As well, we need to remember consciously that Quinn realizing and rejecting her control over him is what’s important, not him shrugging off the role of being a sub and being more domineering. I imagine a better writer could separate those two themes a little more clearly, but sadly, I’m not there. I just don’t want the two themes to conflate in the meantime. Domming is fun. Subbing is great. Neither one is inherently better, and neither makes you an inherently better person. That’s all. I’ll talk to you all next week.