Over the years I’ve wanted to write a story about an escort with the power to heal through sexuality and his falling in love. That is the core idea of Sex Magick. The story has been with me for years in various forms and I’ve done extensive research for it in the areas of sex magick (some practitioners of Wicca make a distinction between the “magic” of illusion and the “magick” of spellcraft) and Tantra and bodywork and various esoteric systems of energy and mind-body alignment.But this is the first time I actually sat down and let myself write the story out. I’ve made two attempts over the past several months, the second of which reached slightly more than 14,000 words. Then I got stuck. Now I’m in the process of getting unstuck by examining the initial inspirations behind Sex Magick and creating a premise line with Jeff Lyons’ Anatomy of a Premise Line as a guide. I recommend you buy the book.
Lyons defines a story as “the combination and interplay of character and plot that is a metaphor for a human experience leading to change.” (1) I like this definition. He holds that a story has an Invisible Structure and a Visible Structure. The premise line is the statement which links the two, taking elements from the Invisible Structure and attaching them to concrete, visible actions. There are seven elements to the invisible Structure which Lyons lists as “character, constriction, desire, relationship, resistance, adventure, and change.” (2) Within a character, the protagonist, Lyons insists that there must be a moral component, made up of three parts: moral blind spot, immoral effect, and dynamic moral tension. (3)
Here is where I am going to start my work.
The protagonist of my story is Raphael, a solitary Wiccan who owns an esoteric bookstore and works as an escort/sex-worker/energy healer on the side. His clients do not necessarily know that he is an energy healer, although he uses his healing energies on them (where they allow) and they feel the effects. He has a base fear (of which he is unaware) that if people really knew him, they wouldn’t like him very much. This leads to his core belief that [God! This is so hard!] he must keep his real self hidden, lest he be ostracized and maybe even persecuted. The immoral effect this creates stems from his habit of making people fall in love with him, then putting up walls around himself if they get too close. He hurts people by seducing, then rejecting them.
There is backstory here. I will take a moment away from developing a premise to feel this out a little.
Raphael’s true self was always rejected; his love of poetry, his love of dance, his joy in music didn’t align with his parents’ notion of what a real boy should be like. To compound the problem, he wasn’t aggressive, he wasn’t athletic and he wasn’t a skirt-chaser, like his father. Although handsome, verging on beautiful, like his mother, he wasn’t showy, effusive and status-seeking like his mother. When rumors began to spread that Raphael was gladly servicing the local boys sexually, he was confronted, then kicked out of the house when he refused to deny that he was gay and that he was conducting affairs with several boys, one of whom confessed to his religious parents who then told the entire town. Billy, I think his name was. Billy Prohowich. Raphael found his way to the nearest city, which I think is modeled after Boston, and became a street hustler.
One of Raphael’s clients was a ritual magician who dealt in spirits. Raphael moved in with him and became sort of a sorcerer’s apprentice. He also studied to be a massage therapist and became enamored of energy work, [This is all sort of fuzzy; I’m making it up as I go along and it’s subject to change.] specializing in aromatherapy and Thai massage. He stayed away from Reiki, for some reason. He prefers to touch a client, skin to skin, and Reiki often doesn’t call for that in my recollection. At some point, perhaps soon after Raphael meets the Sorcerer, the Sorcerer either disappears or dies in a mysterious manner. This is due to the Sorcerer’s playing around with spirits and may have to do with Raphael’s releasing Belz by accident. A spirit has been released, named Belz (who becomes the antagonist in the Sex Magick story) and the spirit offers to take Raphael under his wing… for a price. I haven’t determined what that price is, yet, but it has something to do with letting Belz feed off of the excess energy of Raphael’s clients. I think that Belz eventually destroys his humans when he can’t get enough of them and tries to move on to someone new. That someone new might be Geoff, the love interest.
To come full circle, or at least back to premise writing, the immoral effect is demonstrated when (against Belz’ counsel) Raphael seduces Geoff and after a very romantic interlude rejects him. I hate doing this to Raphael. Geoff will most likely survive. But I want my protagonist to be sympathetic! Waaah!
Anyway, [collecting myself] a character in a story needs a clear place to go, and that means he must come from somewhere. The place Raphael comes from is pain and the place he goes to is healing through love. I still don’t have all the answers, I still don’t understand all the pieces, but I feel I am much closer to understanding the story. I’ve worked on this along time today, much longer than it takes to read it, so I will wrap up for the day.
The next time, I will conclude constructing the moral component by investigating the dynamic moral tension and then work on the second step of constructing a premise line in earnest.
Thank you for your attention and your presence.
(3) Lyons, Jeff. Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success (p. 29). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.