I’m a character driven reader in my fiction. If I fall in love with a protagonist, I will come back sequel after sequel. It doesn’t even have to be a main character.
The Care and Feeding of Sex Demons is entirely character-driven. Cypher MacKenzie stops apocalypses but can’t keep his best friend and sex demon from nearly starving. On top of that, he realizes he has been putting the bare minimum into his relationship with his fae lover and needs to try harder at…relationshipping. There are quite a lot of twists and turns in the plot, but unless I can catch the reader’s attention and make them root for the new emotional bonds, no one is going to get to the good bits.
Through the years, I found three tricks that really make your main character the driving force behind your plot. We all know going in that your main character is going to grow and change throughout the book and (hopefully!) the series, but he (or she) needs to start the book with enough pop that it separates your story from everything else.
The first point was made by Donald Maass in his amazing Writing 21st Century Fiction seminar. He explained that three kinds of main characters should begin their journeys showing different traits. He says as soon as you can, show the heroic protagonist being human, the everyman protagonist being heroic and wounded heroes wanting to heal.
When reading erotica, I don’t like everyman protagonists. I don’t care about their mundane lives. Heroic protagonists for me need some sort of weakness in order to be engaging. My vampires in The Master of the Lines series were superhuman in their talents and power, but my main character, Vision, was torn between wanting a lover who could completely dominate him in bed but be utterly deferential at work.
I work almost exclusively with wounded protagonists, and for years I heard the same piece of critique back. Everyone who got past chapter ten loved the main character, but had a hard time getting past the wallowing. As Mr. Maass said, there comes a point in every friendship with an alcoholic that you give up drinking with them or admit you have a problem too. But the first time that friend calls in the middle of the night wanting to go to rehab, your ideal reader is going to be the one who throws their coat on, grabs the car keys, and goes along.
Moving that moment of change to the beginning of the book automatically sets it apart from all the other future trunk novels beginning with wallow. Erotic romance is escapist. The last thing most people want to read after work is a smutty Angela’s Ashes.
Secondly, try to write the sequel before going back to edit. Writing 101 says you should be leaving your manuscript alone for six months before you go to reread it anyway. At the least you should work on a project between writing and rewriting so that have a bit of distance between you and the work. You’ve already gotten the world in place if you have finished book one. By writing book two you are really going to have a handle on what this world is about and what the main problem is.
Beginning any book is like groping around the nightstand for your glasses in the morning. You wouldn’t have started the book unless you had some idea of the shape, but I’m always so surprised at how flat even my main character is in the first draft. I know them so much better after working with them for so long.
My next book coming out, Coral were his Bones, is about selkies, creatures from Celtic mythology that can change shape from seals to humans. Selkies can give their metaphorical hearts to their lovers and bind their lives to that other person, but if they are tricked there are no take-backsies. When Finn comes to visit his first love on his one day off a year, his situation is somewhat grim, but there was no driving reason why the escape plan had to happen at that exact moment.
I immediately started the sequel. It opened the world up. Just how rule-oriented Finn was became a theme that I wanted to pick up from the beginning, but also I knew there had to be a concrete, dire reason that Finn had one shot at escape. That reason had to be there from the start. I know the need for immediate gratification can make the roots of your teeth ache, but by finishing a trilogy before publishing the first book gives you so much time to foreshadow the interesting bits and let you put a hint to the end of the book in the opening paragraph. Most people would probably not even notice, but the ones who do will think you are brilliant.
The last part to make your main characters pop is to clearly show the main character’s goal, and then show at least two or three solid, undeniable reasons why that can’t happen. At least one of them should be an internal conflict that the main character needs to overcome within himself. In The Care and Feeding of Sex Demons, Cypher puts his life on the line as required. It’s dangerous, but he’s good at it. His boyfriend wants him to quit. Cy loves saving the world. The world is worth being saved. It’s just that Patrick has good reasons to be afraid. If the amount of power Patrick holds could fill up an Olympic sized swimming pool, the pitiful amount Cy has could fit into a sippy cup with lots of room for ice. It’s never a fair fight.
Urban fantasy and paranormal is a well-trod stage. There are still amazing stories to tell, but you have to make your main character pop out for your reader. The more unique you can make the protagonist, the more chance you have at telling the story you want to tell.
The Care And Feeding Of Sex Demons by Angela Fiddler
About The Care And Feeding Of Sex Demons:
Keeping a sex demon happy and sexually satisfied is always the safest option, even if Cy has his own relationship issues. When saving the world on a regular basis, a happy home is important, especially when mixing human, fae princes and a starving sex demon.Source: Info in the About The Care And Feeding Of Sex Demons was from the press kit from the publicity team.
Meet The Author:
Angela Fiddler wrote her first erotic novel as a birthday present to a friend who had requested kneeling and vampires. While the vampires come and go in the story, the kneeling remains. Angela likes smut, dark humor and stories that mix erotica with raw emotion. She talks about writing and her characters at www.angelafiddler.com.
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