“Why is everyone so fuckable?”
Love your characters as a fan loves them.
Disclaimer: This article discusses discovering more about characters by allowing them to be sexual creatures. Please do not reduce characters or people to only being sexual objects. That’s not cool.
“Kylo can’t get with Finn! Kylo hates Finn!”
“Kylo can’t get with Finn! Kylo hates Finn!”
“But hate is what keeps Kylo going…”
“I… oh… oh my.”
Something strange happened in the aftermath of The Force Awakens: everyone talked about fucking! People fought over whether Finn and Poe would get together. Or will Rey and Finn? Or will Rey and Kylo?
That was just the first wave. After that, every character started getting paired with every other character. It was a science-fiction orgy that crossed gender, race, and even species lines. The Force Awakens became a sexual awakening across the fandom. Even people who never got into “shipping” before found themselves called to champion their most beloved pairings.
As Mikey Neumann pointed out. The Force is Love, and Love is awakening.
Love from the outset
I’m having an easier time writing my third novel than any novel I’ve written in the past. Yes, it has the most detailed outline I’ve ever prepared, and I’ve taken a few other steps to ease the process. It’s work — writing is my job — and everyone should take steps to make their job easier.
This book, however, has been much easier than it has any right to be, and I know exactly why.
“Be a fan of your characters” and “Give your characters hobbies” echo down the halls of Writing Advice University. While I agree with both of those statements, I also find them incomplete. I don’t care that General Squarechin loves to fish. It doesn’t help that I celebrate Argos McHerofin’s birthday with a slice of his favorite pie. No, what matters is that I can imagine the person who loves them.
I remember the day when General Squarechin came to the bait shop and found himself entangled in the arms and lips of the man behind the counter. I remember their second date. Their breakup. Their strange make-up sex after reading about Argos McHerofin’s marriage to Grizzlehelga of Manslaughter Mountain.
Don’t just love your characters, know who loves them. Show who loves them.
Our most familiar tension
More than any tension, sexual tension is the most familiar. For most of us, a wandering eye or an unexpected erection are just one of those risks when going out in public, hanging out with friends, or consuming media. For some, this experience is alien — see also Mikey Neumann’s discussion of asexuality — but, for most people, sexual arousal is a common, healthy, and welcome event.
Few of us spend our days in fear for our lives. Few of us are frequently assaulted, stalked, or hunted. Yet, this life or death motivation is often treated as the most common tension in our lives. Often, to apply a universal translator to a character’s motivations, we see them fear for their lives.
I haven’t feared for my life often. Neither from immediate real threats nor from looming environmental factors. I don’t live in that state of heightened terror save for when I awaken from a nightmare.
I do, however, feel sexual tension every day. Maybe that’s more than most. I don’t know. I do know that sexual tension is much more familiar to me than the experience of being stalked through a house by a killer.
Make them fuckable
The first sex scene I outlined for Seven Days a Servant was a threesome between General Zaria Rog, Bogdan, and Senka. After a day of work and combat lessons, Senka and Bogdan had both collapsed on the couch in General Rog’s apartment. When they awakened, sore and still exhausted, they found that their masks had fallen off. Their identities revealed, Bogdan and Senka are expected to leave.
Senka doesn’t do the expected. Free of the responsibility and influence of the servant’s mask, she challenges Zaria and Bogdan to another lesson. The three of them are incautious and exuberant as they fuck with the enthusiasm of youth and the thrill of fighters.
I am serious when I say that every scene I’ve written for Seven Days a Servant has been accompanied by a fanfiction-esque sex scene. For many of them, Senka — the protagonist — discovers that she has very different desires than she initially thought. She learns that what she expects to arouse her is not actually what turns her on. Strange new stimulus teaches her more about herself than any book, conversation, or mentor.
I cannot overstate how much this has helped to load every single scene with tension. Not only does the constant will-they-won’t-they fill every scene with energy, but it also does a lot to flesh out Senka’s motivations, morals, and drives. The Senka that choses to sleep with the foreign prince is a far different woman than the one that fulfills the alchemist’s request to magically command him in bed.
I have learned so much more from composing sex scenes between almost all my characters than I ever did from writing about their hobbies and histories.
If you find yourself in a bind while writing, do yourself a favor and make your characters fuck. See how it changes them. Do you like them more now or less? Is the last sentence they utter before orgasm more true or less than what they’ve been saying all along? Is that revelation one that need to be in your story? If so, consider leaving the sex in your story. Always be open to what your characters need.
As for me, I’ve got a climax to write.
Take part in crowdfunding Seven Days a Servant by pre-ordering on its Inkshares page! Let’s make this happen!
Trick Dempsey is the author of Nobody’s Business, a social-media noir set in a world obsessed with celebrity. It may be purchased on Amazon.
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