About a month and a half ago, I started work on what I thought would l be a quick throw-away piece on a theme I had considered over the years: a little romp about a magician who seduces a young man who comes to his shop looking for love. I gave it a working title of “Sex Magick”. Simple, right? Well, that blossomed into the idea for a novella, and off I went, blissfully typing until I got to 14,000 words—and got stuck.
Very stuck. I realized I didn’t know where the characters were going, I couldn’t get up enough enthusiasm to finish the sex scenes, I thought the whole idea was a mistake… you who write know the feeling. I was particularly dismayed because working on this story was supposed to be a break from a larger, more “important” project I’ve been working on for years: a novel about an openly gay man and a closeted Fundamentalist who fall in love while roommates at a conservative Seminary. How was I supposed to take a break from a break?
I didn’t want to abandon the project; especially after I read an article talking about how writing a piece is like establishing a relationship. There is a part that is easy and hearts and flowers and adrenaline… and then it comes time to decide to commit to doing the work to make a relationship work or not. The article suggested that we should not abandon our projects at this juncture, that there is wisdom and satisfaction in pressing onward when things get tough. Indeed, the writer suggested, this was the only way to get a writing project done. So I committed to finishing the novella even though I had no idea how.
Luckily, I came across an article by Jeff Lyons which made the distinction between a story and a situation, a story having a character who changes and tells us something about the human condition and a situation being a series of events that happens to an unchanging character. While assuring us that there are situations which make big money and success, Lyons suggests that story, by his definition, is more timeless because it tells us something about the human condition. Intrigued, I bought his book Anatomy of a Premise Line, which I reviewed over at Goodreads and on this blog.
Immediately upon reading a few pages, I started to realize that I was, indeed, working on a story (not a situation) and that the pieces that were missing could be constructed from the materials I had already crafted (with some work, but the essentials were there). There were many exercises in the book; I read over them and the examples but I skipped them, deciding, instead, to go back and work through the process laid out in the book after having gotten an overview of the whole process.
So now comes the next step. Actually crafting a premise line for this story. One of the reasons I have created this blog is to examine the process of crafting M/M fiction. It’s time I stepped up to the plate and showed my hand (ow! mixed metaphor, I know!) by being transparent about my process as I go through it. Therefore, I will work through the process of crafting this story from idea to e-published document here on Romance for Men. I hope you will accompany and assist me in the process.
Wish me luck with Sex Magick! I’m going to need it!