The Juggler’s Lament

Remember in my introductory post last week I mentioned that I write the occasional ménage? That was a bit of an overstatement. In fact, I’ve written one novella that includes a single ménage scene (SEVEN YEAR ACHE) and one novella that includes two ménage scenes, though it’s part of a series based on threesomes that involve a common character (HARD HARVEST). (I’ve got a third, unfinished novella on my hard drive that’s “all ménage, all the time,” but I’ve yet to decide if that one will ever see the light of day.)

For me, the hardest thing about writing love scenes that involve three people is not so much where to put all the various body parts, but more how to manage the dynamics. For example, in HARD HARVEST (which comes out January 1 from Red Sage as part of the “Three Kinds of Wicked” series) the premise of the series dictates that Trey – a supernatural “time-strider” and the character common to all novellas in the series – shows up at a certain moment in time to help a specific couple get their freak on… ahem… unite in a physical manifestation of their spiritual destiny so the natural order of the universe is preserved and chaos does not reign. (It makes sense in context. Trust me.)

Therefore, Trey is a but catalyst for the HEA (happily-ever-after) of the main couple in each story, but he’s also a uniquely intense character in his own right, which means each author in the series had to find a way to keep the dynamics balanced. If Trey is allowed to seem stronger – smarter, sexier, more capable – than the male half of the couple in question, then that couple’s HEA will always be in question. Readers will be left wondering if the heroine ended up with the lesser of the two men, and that’s definitely not a satisfying finish.

One of the ways the series’ authors decided to combat this possibility was to stay out of Trey’s head. Up until the final scene in each novella, in which Trey acknowledges the end of that particular part of his mission, the reader sees everything from the points of view of the hero and heroine. By keeping out of Trey’s POV, we gave him less “weight” in the story arc and fixed the importance on the interaction between the hero and heroine.

Another way we avoided making Trey the romantic focus was to remind the reader frequently that he was “just passing through” each tale on his way to his ultimate destination, which he will find in Liane Gentry Skye’s final installment of the series, WICKED REDEMPTION.

Despite my best efforts to set Trey up as merely a catalyst for the more important relationship between David and Hannah, my hero and heroine, I found writing the love scenes in HARD HARVEST quite challenging. I felt like an amateur juggler thrust into the center ring before I was ready, struggling to keep all those balls in the air… so to speak. (Oh, come on, you knew I had to say it eventually.)

In the end, I think I was successful in balancing the dynamics in a way that allows my hero and heroine to watch Trey ride off into the sunset with perhaps some nostalgia regarding his role in bringing them together, but no real regrets. Now I can only wait and see if my readers agree.


Next week, I’ll write about the unique joys and responsibilities of a nearly-decade-long-and-still-going-strong critique partnership, otherwise known as “How to Handle It When Your Crit Partner Misplaces Her Mind and You Must Talk Her Down From the High, High Ledge.” (Hint: A soothing tone of voice only goes so far.)

Until then…  🙂



Filed under challenges, rambling, writing

5 responses to “The Juggler’s Lament

  1. Pingback: Selah March » Blog Archive » Tales from the Crit Tuesday II

  2. Writing menage presents many challenges, from positions to dynamics, to keeping the damned pronouns straight! But they’re also fun to write, not only from a sexual standpoint but a pyschological one. I agree that simply choosing which POV to use makes a major impact on how the scene is read and interpreted.

  3. talesfromthecrit

    My critique partner regularly has to talk me down from a ledge. We had a brief exchange last night about a collaborative project –

    Me: “…but you’re worldbuilding too much. THIS story is supposed to be kind of cardboard and insubstantial.”

    Her: “Um. Hon. All your projects start out that way.”

    She’s a mean, mean woman.

    And I think she might’ve even referred to my solution to a recent menage scenario as “Convenient.”

  4. talesfromthecrit

    ^^ Emily 🙂

  5. talesfromthecrit

    Sorry I didn’t answer these comments, guys. I’m a loser. I need to get into the habit of checking, I guess.

    Katrina~ POV is CRUCIAL. I can’t even imagine writing a menage in omniscient. I think I’d hurt myself.

    Emily~ Gotta be cruel to be kind, right? 😉


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