Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Character's "Tail" Wags this Dog

**Warning: Today's Blurb Contains Adult Themes**

Okay, it took a sound smack to the head--or rather, my rearmost--by one of my characters in order for this message to truly leave an...impression, but that it has.

In deference to the genius of my character, Mak, I am required to issue the following statement:


My Characters are Wise. My Characters are Always Right. My Characters Are KING.

Last week I posted about Makoto Chinen, the secretive Asian patron of lust who refused to bare his soul (though he readily bares other wonders) so I could add his POV to my current book, Kata Sutra. After what amounted to turning me over his knee in the dojo where he dominates, I had to rethink my strategy. Granted, my post asking how other writers got their clammed-up characters to spill DID garner some interesting and provocative suggestions--everthing from threatening to withhold sex scenes to getting out the whip myself. Yes, many tips were thrust into my writer's hands by sympathetic blog readers. But something was missing.

I knew that somehow, the lesson I was meant to learn from my "schooling" in the dojo was not that I needed to take a firmer hold of Mak's...reins, but rather not to be afraid--or frustrated--when a particularly strong character wishes to take hold of ME and ride the story harder. Mak is powerful and cocksure and ready to take on a challenge--and his latest was convincing this author that Daddy Knows Best. And so he has.

Mak wasn't trying to pose a battle of wills and prove me under-equipped; he was trying to tell me the story itself. I wasn't meant to sit offsides, scratching my head and wondering what his motivations are and where he goes when he's finished getting all hot and sweaty in the dojo--and oh yeah, training martial arts, too. His love interest is meant to do so--on stage.

With a nod and sly wink of agreement, Mak backed off and let me tell the tale his way--with his secret life woven in as essential to his plot line. Let his reporter-slash-bombshell lover drive herself insane with curiosity over what her guy's deal is when they aren't bound up in a tangle of limbs. Better her than me...for everyone concerned.

Thanks, Mak. Feel free to take me in hand anytime. :)

Today's Favorite Line Written: His tongue probed hers as he pushed her against the hallway wall, hands running over damp, cooling flesh until she melted against him with a moan and he felt her skin reignite.
Then he pulled away, and after dressing at triple speed bid the duo a nod of farewell and slipped into the night...alone.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Spanked My Character!

photo courtesy of Stock Exchange

Well, HERE'S a fine mess I've gotten myself into! My odyssey into the mysteries of POV spurred dozens of comments, here on the blog and various loops I post to. I was most grateful for the insight, and the message was rapid and profound: Multiple POV is where it's at.

That settled, I waggled my fingers and set out to add the third POV "leg" to Kata Sutra's menage/triangle, Asian karate virtuoso Makoto Chinen. Mak is rocked and charming, a bit of a bad boy with discipline in martial arts and a ninth degree black belt in erotic ones...and a complete, utter mystery outside the dojo where he trains and indulges after-hours sexual sparring.

I stared at the story for days, willing this Japanese god to open up to the writer. No go. I pulled all my tricks out of the writer's hat and a few from others. All good, but none effective. Took a break for several days, then returned. Nothing. In the dojo he's all out, right in the fray, open to scene after scene of powerful fighting and dangerous loving. But once he saunters out of the studio in snakeskin boots and tight-fitting jeans, he rides off on his motorcycle and leaves me in the dust. Granted, my characters don't reveal their deep darks right at the off...but I can't even glimpse his house, job, nothing. Whatever his secrets are, they weigh heavily...and just outside the Dakota Dragon dojo where he rules as top student.

This morning I tried an all-out visualization...a direct meeting of the minds. We sat Lotus-style, face to face in the dojo where he readily appears, and there I made my appeal.

I learned two valuable lessons.

1.Add Ya Laters really aren't keen on being such.
2.Venturing alone into a dojo where the quarry is an almost black belt and you never passed orange leaves one at something of a disadvantage.

By the time we parted, a sly grin on his sultry lips, I'd been laid bare and spanked soundly for my crimes--in various interpretations I'll leave to your imagination. Bottom line...he has my number, but I still don't have his.

Now that I've been left red, er, faced and empty-handed, I ponder my next move. I've always believed characters tell the story, not me, but Mak is taking the "Who's Your Master?" approach to a whole new level. I could walk away again, let things cool. But I admit he's got me right where he wants me...hopelessly entranced and dying to know more. He's got me, well, acting like an enthralled reader who is stuck at a crucial moment...with her hands cuffed behind her so she can't turn the page. Touche, Mak. Now let's dance!

Have YOU ever faced off with a character who simply wouldn't reveal themselves? Challenged you at every turn? Punished you for crimes real and imagined? Hell, answered, "No Comment" to simple matters like "Smoking or non?" "Paper or plastic?" "Dress right or left?" What did you do to lure him or her out of hiding?

Recent Favorite Line Written...Evan half knelt over Mak, cocking back a fist in a show of setting up a finishing blow. “And maybe a young man like you has a few things to learn before earning his black or in Desiree's bed.”

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm Totally P.O.(v)'d

Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange

**Warning: Today's Favorite Line contains adult content**

That's right, I said it out loud...I'm PO'd about POV. (That's Point of View for the uninitiated, or the viewpoint from which a story is told.)

When I was new to fiction, there was plenty said about POV do's and dont's. The rules were simple: stick to one or two unless you're Stephen King, which you ain't (nyah nyah). Don't get POV's mixed up, don't change them like underwear, and don't use second person...because it's apparently just too freakin' weird.

Simple, however, is not always easy. Once I abandoned my single-POV short fiction for romance, I automatically sought the his & hers approach...then found myself plagued with guilt whenever I left the other character alone too long, as though they'd feel slighted and misbehave when it finally came around to their turn. Admittedly, I was also quite curious to know what the other one was up to, so I simply HAD to check in and see what I'd "missed." Tennis-match style head-hopping followed, probably enough to get me sued for whiplash. Fortunately, time, patience, and a good lashing from one of my editors allowed me to retire my tennis racket and delay POV changes, fermenting anticipation like fine wine.

Since then I've written over half a dozen romantic tales, and by now one would assume I'm quite secure in handling perspective. So I was...until Kata Sutra, my new WIP this week. In this latest red-hot, I envisioned a triangle or menage scenario and was wondering how to handle the POV. The main M/F had stories to tell that required two POVs, but I hardly wanted to toss in a whole other tamale just for the sex. To fix this awkward third wheel issue I went to the Big Authority, Google, to scare up some other erotic writers and their thoughts on the subject.

Just my luck to discover that apparently, his/her POV ain't where it's at. According to several sources, big pubbers like Harlequin (and supposedly, readers) are most interested in single female POV.

Doth mine eyes deceive me? No heroes unless they are within their intended's eye line? Sacrilege! Of course, I never write hero POV just to "see what he thinks about the romance." They have subplot demons of their own that must be sorted out by the end. But should they? My research this week was enough to give me pause, especially about my more erotic work. Should I go feminist and dump male POV? This would solve my immediate dilemma with Kata Sutra, but then huky martial arts instructor Evan Dakota won't have his issues aired in public. Drat the luck.

So now I turn to YOU, dear Readers-o-the-Blog, for insight on the mysteries of red-hot POV. What do you prefer in your spicy reads? Solid immersion within the feminine POV throughout, leaving all of the inner workings of the hero shrouded in mystery until she peels back the layers? Or a tale where the man has his own dragons to slay after the heroine has retired to her bedchamber to dream of true love? Do tell! I confess that while I enjoy both, I prefer the doubt why I write it. In real life romance I've only got my viewpoint, so for fantasy I appreciate a peek at the other side.

Today's Favorite Line Written (tragically bound for the Delete key should I have to dump male POV): A short, almost feral growl sought escape at the very thought of the seemingly innocent, blond goddess who had blindsided Evan the week before. Hair like an angel, curves like a demoness, she was enough to bring any man to full attested to now by the perceptible twitch against the mat beneath him as the memory of round, full lips and firm breasts sent a fair percent of his circulation shooting south.