This here Writing Treasure Hunt is going to be a recurring segment, where I find hidden (writing-related) booty to plunder, and share it with ye. Yarrrrr!
On the subject of booty, the treasure I’ve unearthed this time around is about, well, just that. It’s a post about getting your characters from A to B in the romantic sense, and by “B” I mean coitus. Intercourse. Rumpy pumpy. The beast with two backs.
Ahem. Let’s begin, shall we?
The article is written by fellow writing blogger Fiona Quinn, and is based on research about attraction and physical intimacy, of which there is apparently a checklist of “Twelve Stages.”
What this neat, short, and very simple blog article puts forward, is a way of acknowledging the steps that many people go through in the start of an advancing relationship. It walks through from the first “checking out”, past the eye contact, the first exchange of words, and into the hand contact, hand to shoulder, hand to waist, hand to hair/head, kissing… and yeah you get the idea.
In real life, I’ve not given this stuff a lot of thought. I’ve always just winged it (wung it?), which:
a) doesn’t lend itself to writing believably on the topic
b) falls short of doing my characters justice by letting their relationships develop organically (read: gradually)
c) might go some way towards explaining my hit-and-miss track record
I don’t think I went through each of these steps every single time in my own pre-marriage adventures (such as they were), but I’m sure that most encounters were some kind of subconscious, mutant version of it. Following these steps precisely (when writing) isn’t the point either; for me this is still a very useful tool, because it gives a discrete sequence as a kind of “gold standard,” that I can then shoot-up all-to-hell and ignore completely.
How is that useful? Because by thinking about what the expectations might be you can figure out where the friction, the awkward screw-ups, the heart palpitating: “what the hell am I doing here?” moments, and all that fun fiction-writing stuff should go. This part (for me at least, as a non-romance author) is the real reason I’m including the love interest scenes in the first place, and the only way I’m putting actual sex scenes into my story is if it serves a central plot or character development purpose. It’s about ramifications, not titillations (though romance genre writing probably has a big dose of both)
Also, with the sequence: if a writer wants to mix up the order that’s fine. At least by giving it some thought, we’re not going to leave readers scratching their heads. Him? With her? No way… I’m sure I’ve read books or watched films that left me thinking the love interests weren’t developed properly (or much at all… I’m looking at you, James Bond)
And now I hear some of you saying that for Daniel Craig, steps three through eight miiiiiight not be strictly necessary… and to that I say: fair enough, but it’s hard to put that kind of thing on paper (without perhaps stepping into graphic novel territory). Until then, believability is king, and all the “rippling”s and “shapely”s in the world aren’t going to make up for some actual chemistry.
What are your thoughts on developing relationships in fiction? Is some kind of structure necessary, or just a “feel” for what works? I know Harlequins and other bodice-rippers tend towards the formulaic. Or do you just wing it, and maybe get this stuff right after your beta readers have had a fogged-up-glasses read-through?
So anyway, share in the bountiful writing treasures at the link above. Yahrrrr!