Saturday 28 June 2014

Sex and Intimacy (feat. When Women Were Warriors)

I am forever intrigued by the different storytelling purposes that various authors (myself included, these days) use sex scenes for. It's one of the cornerstones of writing fleshed out romance/erotica, but every sex scene should always have a place and purpose within the story, and this most often relates to how sex lets us explore, understand, and progress the characters involved. Just like any other scene in a good novel, what happens in the bedroom is an opportunity for characterisation and plot progression, and it's often a fantastic opportunity to get to know characters in a brand new light.

There are many different tenets to this, but one that I've begun to appreciate a lot more over the past few months is the capacity for a sex scene to explore the theme of intimacy. It should be a no-brainer, I mean, duh, obviously a sex scene should be intimate, but there's a level of intimacy that goes beyond the norm, I feel.

I've recently been reading the series When Women Were Warriors by Catherine M. Wilson, and it's a fantastic example of an author using sex in a very specific and meaningful way to feed us information about the characters, specifically related to the idea of intimacy. I haven't finished the final book yet, but so far there have been various sex scenes which all focus very firmly on the theme of intimacy and the bonds it creates (or questions) between characters.

The earlier examples deal with the protagonist growing closer to one of her friends as she is introduced to sex for the first time, establishing a trust and understanding between the pair which is, interestingly, largely divorced from the ideas of romance and partnership. One of the things that makes me love the way Wilson treats sex so much is that these early scenes take place between friends rather than lovers, which beautifully illustrates the idea of intimacy as being separate from both superficial lust and deeply meaningful romance.

This ties in later to the themes of trust and vulnerability, and the pivotal sex scene at the climax of the second book (this time between the protagonist and the person she truly loves) allows the characters to be completely exposed and honest with one another, baring their souls so completely that we see them in a very different light for a brief moment in time.

Funnily enough, this scene was a large part of the inspiration for the big love scene in my most recent instalment of Broken Moon, in which the hero coaxes the heroine to finally let go of all her worries and doubts, allowing the pair of them to be completely free with their emotions for the first (and perhaps the last..?) time.

This type of intimacy is an emotional state that I think lends itself incredibly well to being explored via sex in literature. It holds so many visual, emotional, and social connotations to the act of sex that's it's hard to think of a different type of scene that illustrates the same themes on such a universal level.

Equally, the lack of such intimacy in a sex scene is an incredibly powerful storytelling technique as well. It can reveal hidden depths to a character and barriers that their partner, the audience, and perhaps even they themselves never knew existed.

I have always tried to make my pivotal "they're in love" sex scenes revolve around this idea of complete openness and honesty, where two characters bare their souls to one another and reach a new level of trust and understanding in their relationship, but at the same time sex can be used to explore very different types of intimacy, such as the bonds of friendship, which is something that I'm hoping to touch on in my next planned serial.

So if you're looking for a way to explore the theme of intimacy in your writing, why not try throwing a good sex scene in there!

Thursday 12 June 2014

(the brand new) Broken Moon Part 4 Published!

It's been a while! Thankfully that just means there's more than twice the usual serving of Broken Moon ready to purchase on Amazon and Smashwords!
Just as a reminder; since the series has now been condensed down into five parts rather than nine, this is the "new" part four, continuing on from where the original part six ended.

In the bloody aftermath of his attempt to leave the Highland Pack, Cyan faces punishment, exile, and perhaps worse. With no allies left amongst the people whose hands his fate rests in, and with Hazel yet again eager to turn the situation to his advantage, all seems lost for the wounded alpha. But despite his apparent betrayal, April still has the power to intervene. Secrets are revealed, truths come to light, and bonds of kinship are broken as the inner conflicts within the Highland Pack finally come to a head. The world is about to change for April and Cyan, and neither of them will emerge from the conflict unscathed.

Things are starting to get dire for our hero and heroine as the drama ramps up in this penultimate instalment, laying the groundwork for the big climax!
Broken Moon is already looking to be the lengthiest thing I've written, and with one part still to go it's definitely going to end up on the "long" side of the novel spectrum. Much longer and I could've gone ahead and split it up into two complete novels!

On the planning front, my next upcoming project is looking strong. Characters are coming together, scenes are taking shape, and I'm super hyped to wrap up Broken Moon so that I can sit down and start writing it properly!
Also tentatively on the "things that might happen" noticeboard is an idea for a novella that will serve as something of a prequel to my existing Wild Instincts serials. One of the ideas I had floating around for my next project was a prequel showing Cyan's early werewolf days with the Mine Pack, a time period that gets referenced quite a lot in Broken Moon, and which was clearly responsible for turning him into the nasty person we met in Wild Instincts.
Unfortunately the idea never really gelled with me, though. A story like that would almost certainly end up being pretty dark, and after Broken Moon I could certainly use a break from characters having to deal with harrowing emotional trauma. Besides which, another novel set in the same fictional werewolf forest as my last two might have started to feel a bit samey (at least so soon after), so I put the idea on the shelf.
However! I still feel like a Cyan prequel would be a cool story to tell at some point. He'll probably not be the main character, but a short novella following some new characters in the early days of the Mine Pack is definitely something I'd be interested in doing. There are a couple of familiar faces I have in mind to fill out the lead roles, but the Ifs and Whens of this project are still very much up in the air.

Anyway! That's what's coming down the pipeline in the near and not-so-near future. Final part of Broken Moon, brand new werewolf serial, and perhaps a Mine Pack novella.

Oh, and blog posts. I should really start doing those again.