So, weirdly, I managed to finish both a commission piece and a chapter this week, so I guess I’ll post the chapter this week, and post the commission piece the next. Look forward to that. Be warned, the piece is, within reason, a bit different from my other works, at least genre-wise. It still has the beats of your standard Bashful Scribe piece, for better or for worse.
Okay, from this point onward, we’re getting into spoiler territory, there’s your warning.
So, for the last few weeks I’ve been whining about what happens when chapters are split up, and how I feel like a lot of people got the wrong idea about the whole “Quinn slapped Morgan” thing. I’m sure after reading the first few paragraphs of this chapter, it becomes clear why. (Either that or I need to revise the piece.) In a way, this is almost exciting; holding the payoff to a slight twist hostage until the next month. On another level, it obviously sucks. And on a third level, it weirdly doesn’t matter.
Someone from the future who reads Mutual Benefits start-to-finish will understand that the slap was just an element of the story, but even with this new chapter providing an explanation, someone who read the last chapter a month ago and read this chapter now may still say, “Nope, the slap came out of nowhere, and this is Bashful trying to make it make sense in hindsight after getting pushback” or something. Admittedly, this comes dangerously close to the territory of strawmanning, imagining a critic then attempting to debunk them, but to be fair, I’m not trying to debunk them. This is me imagining how some people will interpret my work due to the nature of the medium.
I see effective plot points as events that influence each other. The slap happens and that’s the shot. Then the revelation of Quinn conceptualizing it as his anger to Taylor happens, and that’s the chaser. Then he has sex with Morgan and has another epiphany, and that’s the full payoff. Was it a neat sequence of events? I don’t know. That’s up to you to decide. But, is it undermined by the amount of time it takes to produce a chapter, or even the fact there’s a pause at all? Yes.
There are a few other resolutions in this chapter too – an explanation as to how Lexi knew about Taylor, for instance – and I’m sure readers are sniffing out a few shots, some more subtle than others, that will get chasers later. The trouble is, not only do I not get to know if they’ll work, but the fact it’s not all told at once is in and of itself a variable that might make the events fall flat and feel cheap.
I have no doubt that there are some that will see the conversation about Lexi at the end as “weird” for a lot of the same reasons, especially since, like the slapping thing, it won’t get to be embellished for a while. I don’t think people will be able to say this one “came out of nowhere,” so that’s at least nice. At this point, all I can do is write and pray, and even if I fail, maybe it’ll work better once the piece as a whole is finished. I know at least one aspect of this story that won’t make sense until near the very end, and that’s a gamble too. That’s not “shot, chaser.” That’s “shot, wait three hours, chaser,” and by then you’re just a sober person sucking on a lime, and that’s a lot less fun. I’ll talk to you all next week.