Relationship Advice

I need some thoughts on a twist to the relationships of two of my characters and I'm utterly confused. I tend to bang away pretty hard on the "write what you know; nothing else" drum and I'm afraid that perhaps my own lack of knowledge of sexual/social mores is getting the better of me here.

We have a 30-something single woman who has just spent the last three months partying like it's 1999 and living the high night life. She's been hitting the clubs, bringing boys home, and really just enjoying life like she hasn't a care in it. Most of these "dates" have been fairly One Night Oriented so she's not had any real relationships enter.

Enter The Guy. The Guy is charming, humble, funny, and amazing in the sack. Where the other guys have just left in the morning for their walk of shame, he slipped back to leave a red rose for her to find when she woke up.

Now the dilemma:

There is a major social gathering that our heroine is set to go to. Her friend has advised her to call in some of the men she's seen over the last several weeks to form an entourage of adoring subjects to attend with her, hold doors, refresh her drinks, and basically scream to everyone else at the party that "I am Woman, see my entourage of my two best friends (women) and all these men I've had slept with." However, The Guy has also shown interest in spending the evening at the party with our heroine.

Our heroine has decided to have her cake and eat it too by inviting The Guy to join the entourage.

And I'm really torn what to write next.

On the one hand, I can sent The Guy to the party with them and just be totally fine being another bit of eye candy hanging around our heroine. I don't think it'd be totally off but I do doubt a little how consistent it is for him. I could, also, have him politely decline and just go his own way.

But what my ~gut~ says is that he'd find this suggestion to not only be distasteful, but a little insulting. He is really into her and to be asked to be part of a gaggle of people (former lovers included) I think would really rattle his cage.

Am I being overly prudish here?

Ask yourself: what do the characters in question want (not just the guy and girl - how do the guys in the periphery react?) and what's the conflict?

Maybe the issue you're trying to figure out is the central topic for the chapter/scene? Does he go to the party with different expectations than she has, only to find himself wondering if he's being prudish or if he has a right to be offended, when he's surrounded by her ex-lovers?

Increase the degree of conflict: some ribbing among the members of the entourage? Him seeing her entirely in her element (or so he thinks) while he's so abjectly uncomfortable. See what happens?

I almost always find that when I'm stuck, the key thing to do is just sit it down and write through it. Get into the scene, and see if the story unsnarls/unblocks itself.

That's more or less my way of handling things too. What I find is that the question isn't abstractly, "Would he go?" as much as it's, "What are the little things that happen in the process of him being asked?"

When I start writing it out, I'm forced to make decisions on what the little things are. Things like:

1. Did she explain the whole situation to him? That he'd be going with a bunch of former lovers? Or did she say she was going with some friends, and he slowly finds out they've all slept with her?

2. Does the thing she's going to actually sound fun to him in any way beyond going with her?

3. Does he know anyone else who's going? Because if he recognizes one of her former lovers, that could be interesting.

4. Even beyond what she says, what's the tone of her invitation to him? Does it sound like they'll be together, or does it sound like he'll be an accessory?

5. How does she treat him at the party? Just like the rest of them?

And so on...

Basically, my experience in life is that people will sometimes do things that they might not think they'd do if it's an overall good experience, and sometimes they won't do things that they normally would if it feels weird.

It's a story. Go with what you feel would create the best conflict and most tension.

Hmm.. yeah... It's tough because I can do quite a bit with the tension if she has to go back to the other room and say "the best guy I've ever met just told me to shove it".

On the other hand there is a lot of room to explore what happens in that limo as more and more of the entourage is picked up the night of the party. I know our heroine just wants to feel empowered; she's spent the better part of the novel being beat down, picked on, threatened and forced. So far this party is her chance to stride and strut and defy the powers that be. The Guy... honestly I'm still sorting out what's up with him.

One moment he's just a lonely guy looking for someone to share time with, and other's he's an assassin plotting to kill our heroine. I really need to lock that down.

Yeah, that last part seems like something you'd want to lock down. If he's an assassin, putting up with a slightly insulting night on the town is a small thing if it helps get him closer to his victim (unless he finds that he's insulted by the situation despite his best interests as an assassin--which would be interesting). If he's a normal person, obviously his response could be either one.

He slipped back in and left a rose, BUT, he did hook up with her on a one night stand. So he's a romantic, but also willing to get laid by some random chick. So... I think he'd go, but when he realizes that the group is her gaggle of conquests, yes, he'd get mad.

The question is, would he get disgusted and leave, or... would he see it as a challenge? A need to rise to supremacy above the others? And if the latter, would he attack them directly (put downs, subtle hints, the occasional tripping foot), Try to wine dine and romance the hell out of her so she forgets them, or... my favorite if you're going for drama.... romance the hell out of her WINGWOMAN and make her jealous?

Alexander... sir..

I tip my hat.

So as an assassin, is he feeling confused at all about killing her? I mean is he just manipulating her with the romance in order to get close to her, or is he hesitating to finish the job because he's falling in love with his victim? Is he AWARE he's falling in love?

If it's the latter and he isn't entirely sure what he's feeling yet, I imagine a great scene in the party where his boss pressured him to finish off the job the night before. Maybe the boss asks him if he's getting attached to his vic, but the assassin denies it through and through. He goes to the party dead-set on being the cold-hearted killer he always has been, because he knows where attachments will lead him (?). We follow him through the party, waiting for the knife to fall... but it never does because he can't. He realizes - partly because of how jealous he feels with all the other suitors around - that he likes her far more than he thought.

This way the party scene has a purpose in progressing the character development and story rather than just providing an awkward situation.

Do you ever see the story from The Guy's perspective? I can also easily see the party scene playing out from the girl's perspective with The Guy just acting weird and suspicious (her first inklings of something bigger happening between them than just romance, and this could also make her more curious about him), leaving her feeling confused about whether or not he really likes her the way she likes him?

I dunno. What I just wrote above reads almost like fan fiction for your story haha~ needless to say I love the concept and it has lots of potential. Especially the assassin part. ^^

Thanks Amy!

Actually all of Mind the Thorns is locked into Regan's head. You never get out of it so you are limited to what she can see, here and know. Part of that is my own preference for story telling and characterization even if I find myself wishing from time to time that I could show another POV on occasion.

As I said I'm not sure what The Guy has as his big plan. So far, honestly, the "Big Plan" of my minor characters has come through at the most dramatically appropriate time to reveal it and usually in a way that makes the best plot twist/ tension add. Dodger, for example, when I introduced him, was just a computer hacker with great timing. It was only after he had gotten Regan out on a date, and the two got talking about she was only on the date as pay back for getting her out of a jam did I realize that Dodger had actually gotten her INTO the jam he then got her OUT of and thus was owed a favor.

I'm fearful that a similar moment for The Guy is coming up as well; that spot where I look at what they're saying to each other and settle on the best, most exciting twist. Is he there to kill her? Or maybe someone else and she's a ticket in? Or... maybe he's just misunderstood....

And Regan is TOTALLY confused. She's never been a "dater" going from one long term relationship to the next with no time to get out and "date". It's fun to write mostly because that kind of "dating" I know a little too well.

Oh, he's assassin out to kill her... that... actually changes nothing. If the plan is to get her alone, he can be disgusted, and plan to do her later while she's banging one of the other guys, and bails, shadowing them, or plan to get her alone, and all of the other plots are equally possible. And if you're locked to her viewpoint, then she slowly realizes what he's up to, and you can have scripted out a whole scene of his actions, and just show the fruits of his labor.

I personally get anxious if I don't know what everyone is thinking at every moment in the story (maybe THIS is why it takes me so long to write a story?!), but if you have a more improvisational style then there is only one way to solve this problem -- you gotta write your way out! :D

And yeah, Rema is the same, always told from one POV. I'm going to change this in book 2.

I once decided to be all wild and crazy and began a novel without any planning. It took years to fill in the plot holes. ;-)