Thursday, July 13, 2006

Progression of Prose

I have been asked many times in the past (by non-authors, because those of you who share the passion for writing with me, know damn well) where my ideas come from. That is far too esoteric a question for me to answer; however, I can explain how I put them down on paper, mold them, and give them shape.

In my latest novel, I am currently writing a scene where my hero, Blair, becomes what may seem uncharacteristically dominant with his heroine and now wife, Susanna. The first half of the scene is told from Susanna's perspective, which describes Blair's actions but does not explain them. Now we've shifted to Blair's POV, and we'll get more into the whys.

I start with a stereotype: proper ladies do not enjoy sex. We've all heard it, but how and where? Blair is in 16th century Scotland; he certainly didn't pick up the phrase on pimpinhos.com. So let's think, how would Blair have come to believe such a thing? Word of mouth, most likely. Alright, let's try this:

When he was a boy, Blair had caught his father sneaking out to the taverns of Perth one evening, seeking the company of one of the local wenches whose charms were available to any with a pocketful of coins. He'd asked, with the curiosity and bluntness of a youngster, why a man would go to a whore when he had a wife at home. "Because, lad," his father had told him simply, "wives are to be cherished. When ye take one yerself, ye must always be gentle with her and no disturb her modesty. When a laird needs satisfaction, he must find a whore. A woman who would please ye well does no have the breeding to be the wife of the laird."

Hm...ok, good. Weaving the stereotype into a story, rather than simply stating: Blair had been told that proper women did not enjoy sex. But wait, in Chapter 8, didn't Blair tell Susanna that his father had married his mother for love? Had even fought battles with a neighboring clan over her?

Uh oh, plot hole! A man who would wage a war for a woman isn't likely to be whoring around in the middle of the night. Alright, can't use his father. Let's try:

When he was a boy, Blair had caught his grandfather sneaking out to the taverns of Perth one evening, seeking the company of one of the local wenches whose charms were available to any with a pocketful of coins. He'd asked, with the curiosity and bluntness of a youngster, why a man would go to a whore when he had a wife at home. "Because, lad," his grandsire had told him simply, "wives are to be cherished. When ye take one yerself, ye must always be gentle with her and no disturb her modesty. When a laird needs satisfaction, he must find a whore. A woman who would please ye well does no have the breeding to be the wife of the laird."

Yes, much better! Someone Blair would have listened to, certainly. Now that we have the presentation of the stereotype, we have to outline why Blair has decided to buck the trend. The first thing that comes, I write down:


Blair hadn't seen the sense in that. He especially didn't now, with his wife's supine, naked form shuddering beneath him, her breath coming in soft, shallow pants, hair fanned out across the pillow in a fiery shock of red curls.


He would never harm her. Despite her protestations, she raised her ass ever so slightly against his palm, pushing into his caress with the last bit of strength she had. Every bone in her body was passion incarnate, and he resolved to show her that she could, indeed, withstand more pleasure.


I like it. But, it seems to need more elaboration. Sure, she's sexy and he's horny, but there has to be more to it than that, no? So after a few moments of thinking, I start typing again. Our two paragraphs become:

Blair hadn't seen the sense in that. He especially didn't now, with his wife's supine, naked form shuddering beneath him, her breath coming in soft, shallow pants, hair fanned out across the pillow in a fiery shock of red curls. She brought out the beast in him -- that part of his warrior soul that coiled deep within, the part he'd spent most of his life trying to tame and to keep dormant. It was the beast that fought on the battlefield, the beast that wielded his broadsword with deadly precision, the beast that had scarred the treacherous Spencer for life. And it was the beast that reared its head now, demanded he take her, demanded he possess her
completely. Though if he were being completely honest with himself, Blair realized that the man, too, wanted no doubt in his mind, hers, or even his clan who no doubt could hear his wife's desperate, orgasmic cries throughout the entire castle.

The one thing that the beast refused to recognize was that she was as much his master as he was hers. He would never harm her. His hand fell away from her hair and smoothed the silken curve of her back in a gesture that was both soothing and sinful. Despite her protestations to the contrary, she raised her ass ever so slightly against his palm, pushing into his caress with the last bit of strength she had. Every bone in her body was passion incarnate, and he resolved to show her that she could, indeed, withstand more pleasure.


Gives a more solid explanation for his actions. But it's not very polished. I use "no doubt" twice in one sentence, and I hate the word "orgasmic", it doesn't seem to fit the piece. So now we tweak - and we ask Katrina Strauss for suggestions to replace "orgasmic". "throughout the castle" is clunky, and probably unnecessary. Always avoid loading a sentence with more than it requires. So let's kill it. Also, balance out the description of Susanna. Since I used "her breath", I should use "her hair" as well, rather than simply "hair..." We end up with:

Blair hadn't seen the sense in that. He especially didn't now, with his wife's supine, naked form shuddering beneath him, her breath coming in soft, shallow pants, her hair fanned out across the pillow in a fiery shock of red curls. She brought out the beast in him -- that part of his warrior soul coiled deep within, the part he'd spent most of his life trying to tame and keep dormant. It was the beast that fought on the battlefield, the beast that wielded his broadsword with deadly precision, the beast that had scarred the treacherous Spencer for life. And it was the beast that reared its head now, demanded he take her, demanded he possess her completely. Though if he were being completely honest with himself, Blair realized that the man, too, wanted no doubt in his mind, hers, or even his clan who most assuredly heard his wife's desperate, rapturous cries.

The one thing that the beast refused to recognize was that she was as much his master as he was hers. He would never harm her. His hand fell away from her hair and smoothed the silken curve of her back in a gesture that was both soothing and sinful. Despite her protestations to the contrary, she raised her ass ever so slightly against his palm, pushing into his caress with the last bit of strength she had. Every bone in her body was passion incarnate, and he resolved to show her that she could, indeed, withstand more pleasure.


There, now that's worlds better still, don't you think? Writing is a progressive art. We write, then we re-write, then we revise, and revise again.

Class dismissed!

1 comment:

H.S. Kinn said...

*bows to the smartness that is Kayleigh*

That is a awesome article; we ought to put it in our group files at AA!