I received a review this week on the first chapter of the new volume of my story, which I wanted to address. The reviewer sounded rather frustrated, but the review actually made me incredibly happy, because it means that I successfully structured my story in such a way that it had the desired effect. For those of you who have been waiting for some sexual action in the story for some time now: The palpable tension in the story is intentional. The review has alerted me that the sexual tension may be lasting too long sans mini-resolution for readers (since, after all, the story does not take place in real life, and is read for entertainment purposes), so thank you. If I seek publication, I may go back and cut out or shorten some of the in-between stuff. Due to word counts, I have been looking for something to cut anyway.
My challenge in Volume 1 was to develop the relationship naturally, at the rate it would in real life. Many novels nowadays (particularly in the Teen section of a bookstore) feature all the events in the novel happening in the span of only a few days. By the end of the novel, you FEEL like you’ve been journeying with the characters for a year of their lives…so when/if a character alludes to the fact that all these crazy events have happened in 3 DAYS, you’re like, “Wow, those days are chalked ridiculously full.” You accept it because you’re already locked in, but is it really realistic for so much to happen in only a day’s time? Can the character really grow so much literally overnight? I decided not to go at this break-neck pace in Volume 1, so I’m sure it seems much slower.
It would not feel natural, in light of the much slower pace of Volume 1, for Rome and Labriella to jump right into gleeful sex after the epilogue. As much fun as that would be to write, the psychology is not quite right for it. Labriella had to convince Rome to take her home with him again. And human nature is to slip back into an old way of doing things, even if that is not necessarily what is desired. (If you don’t believe me, just think of projects like trying to stick to a strict diet to loose weight. No sugar? Yeah right…see how long that’ll last when you’ve had it every day of your life. Or getting into a bad relationship, finally getting out, and then getting a new boyfriend/girlfriend just like the last one.) I had to address the natural slipping, to bridge it somehow–to call them on it so there can be progress. That was the function of chapter 1…Plus introducing Rome’s noble heritage into the equation in way that can be built upon in a plot-promoting fashion.
It’s not that Rome is stingy, or conservative, or cold-hearted. It’s that he is employing ridiculous amounts of self-control. His beast nature is very possessive and controlling, but his human side is deeply caring and has lost all that was important to him. So it’s only natural that he would try to control what he has left to keep from losing it. But Rome does have a breaking point. And the whole point of building so much tension is to make that breaking point that much more dramatic, so that when he finally does snap, you’re just as breathless as Labriella.
Never fear: There WILL be sex in this volume. That is why I started off the new volume with a lime in chapter 1. I warned of “sexual themes” in the summary for Inhuman, but I warned of actual “sex” in the summary for Ignoble. By “sexual themes,” I was referring to the fact that sex literally runs as a theme throughout the first volume; they talk about sex a lot, which decidedly sets the story apart from a “Teen” rating. Initially I wanted to close out the first volume with Rome and Labriella’s first round of actual sex…but then I realized A) the word count was already extremely high, and B) the story might be better served by integrating the first sex into the plotline rather than making it the destination. But I’ve had that wedding-crashing scene in my head for a looooong time now, so even though it’s graphically stretching the MediaMiner rating of Y for Volume 1, I just had to end with that.
I was concerned about crossing a line on FictionPress with my sex scenes, since they do not allow a rating above M. However, no one has complained so far or berated me for being too graphic, I have seen more graphic stories than mine on FictionPress, and the aforementioned review especially confirms that readers are actually waiting for the more graphic sex scenes. So maybe I won’t have to have a censored version of the story after all. I guess it really depends on how people handle Rome’s first-person violence in Volume 2. Nobody complained about gore (like heat of insides and texture of blood) when Rome stabbed Labriella with his claws in chapter 15…but he’s going to do a great deal more than that to people, so we’ll see.
To OneWithoutAWhish: I’m glad for your review. It’s like you’re reading my mind. 🙂 I don’t know if I’ll move quickly enough for you in the next couple chapters, but many of the ideas you listed are actual scenes I already have planned out, and you’ve anticipated the reason I even introduced escorts and prostitutes in the first place. At the risk of exposing any more of the story, since I can’t privately message you on FictionPress, that is all I am going to say.