Monday, September 24, 2012

Oops, They Did It Again

I read some advice the other day for writers who have blogs to the effect of, "Don't write about writing. It's boring." There's something to that, but I feel like putting down some thoughts about characters. If it bores you, go buy one of my books and read that instead. They're not boring! :)

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW FOR "... AND ALL HIS HEART'S DESIRES." IF YOU DON'T LIKE TO HAVE THE ENDING OF A BOOK SPOILED BEFORE YOU READ IT, GO BUY IT AND READ IT BEFORE YOU CONTINUE.

I finished my next novella last night (NOTE: this was written about a week before the post was actually published to avoid spoiling an unreleased book.) and I was really surprised at where it ended up. It turned out to be a rather tender romantic ending between the main character and the woman who was created to be his antagonist. I thought for sure she was going to try to kill him, but she wouldn't do it. She believed in him and since she did, he turned into the kind of character that was worth believing in. I'm not too upset about this as it made for a really wonderful final scene in my opinion. "There are other powers in this world besides [Darkness] and evil," kind of thing.

I kind of wonder if this was some kind of subconscious response to my last two stories, which got a lot darker than I thought they would. I mean, I doubt I'll ever do really nasty (as in, say, mutilation or cannibalism or anything like that) scenes. But the themes of control that I explore in my stories often lead to some pretty dark places. Half the fun of control is overcoming resistance: without resistance, there is no victory. You could write a control story with freely given consent on all sides, but it would just be a kinky love story. There's nothing wrong with kinky love stories but that's not what I do. (Would you pay for 'em? I could start. Really. I could. But sales are gonna have to go up. :) )

And besides, one of the things that trips my particular trigger - and I know I'm not alone in this from discussions with others -  is that sense of helplessness, that gradual realization by the controlled that they have lost control. That probably doesn't say anything good about my psyche, but none of us, as a wise woman once said, can help the way we're made. And I for one find that venting it through writing, taking control and using it ruthlessly, helps me maintain a more even keel in the real world. It probably works on the same principle that access to pornography actually makes sexual violence go down in a given environment. The less repression, the less buildup. The less buildup, the less neurosis or even psychosis that will develop in a given individual. Sure, we'll always have wackjobs who are just, for whatever reason, broken, and some of these wackjobs will have enormous pornography collections (or enormous Bible collections, or enormous Hello Kitty collections, or whatever.) But that is a symptom, not a cause.

Similarly, once I let out these impulses - which have always been inside me, I can't remember a time when impulses of domination and control weren't part of my sexuality - through writing or reading, I don't feel more inclined to do something unspeakable, I feel less inclined. Getting down and rolling around in it in my imagination lightens the tension.

And, back to my thoughts on characters, once I let out some of my darker tensions, I find myself going back to writing less brutal or selfish characters and producing stories which have happier endings. The Shape of Her Desires is a quasi-romance story: after I wrote that, I had an urge to produce something darker and more primal. So in At His Discretion the controller is an absolutely amoral (well, not entirely, but close) selfish bastard who doesn't care whose feelings he hurts as long as he gets what he wants. In fact, not only does he enjoy humiliating people, he enjoys making other people enjoy humiliating people. That's pretty darn low, on certain scales. But it came up a bit in A Matter of Trust in that while the controller in that story does celebrate his victory over his antagonist pretty viciously in some ways (somewhat justified by the facts that a) he's not entirely human and b) she had just tried to kill him) he still doesn't use his power to actively hurt her. In fact, he uses it to reduce the enormous consequences of her loss to her sanity.

And now it's come up quite a bit more in ...And All His Heart's Desires, my new story, in that it's his realization that he's misusing his power that convinces the main character that something is wrong in the first place. The main character and his antagonist just refused to accept the inevitability of corruption. It was almost like they were telling me, "No, no, it doesn't have to be this way. The power of control doesn't have to spiral down into darkness. People can rise up even above the ultimate temptation if they just believe they can." Whether that's actually true, I don't know. Lord Acton certainly didn't think so and his quote about absolute power gets quoted so much I have to think most people believe he was right. But sometimes the characters won't go along with it despite their creator, your humble correspondent, having a pretty jaundiced view of human nature. I find that kind of inspiring.

Thanks for reading... I'd love to hear comments from people either here or by email.

MC

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