Back to the Drawing Board by Blaine D. Arden

A while back, I thought I had a great idea for a story. I fell in love with a purple faerie called Wisc—Wiscojoiathéo, actually, which translates into ‘beneath the blueberry bushes’ and is a hint as to where he was conceived—and I couldn’t wait to write his story. A couple of days later, I had a full background for him. From his large family—complete with overbearing mother—to his love for designing, and his obsession with human technology. He was about to spread his wings—yes, wings—and discover a whole new world filled with humans and their precious technology. First part done, right?

The story was supposed to be a fantasy suspense, meaning something bad was going to happen to Wisc, and he would be in danger for most of the story. I was imagining scraped knees, bruised wrists, torn clothing, and a creepy guy who had it in for him. Oh, and a possible love interest in the form of some agent who’d save him, or help him save himself—he might be a bit on the innocent side and helpless at times, but he wasn’t going to be a damsel in distress.

I had plenty to write about, I thought, and chapter one was soon done. The basic story was set. He got lost, ran into creepy guy, and spent most of the chapter running from him, trying to find his way through a city he didn’t know to get back home.

Chapter two, I’d decided, was going to be from the point of view of the possible love interest. More action was involved, because mister agent was trying to find a thief, a spy, before meeting Wisc and falling in love. It all went well, and by the end of the chapter, he’d arrested Wisc—case of mistaken identity—and went home to his boyfriend.

Hold on? Boyfriend? What do you mean boyfriend? Oh, right, that’s not exactly what I called him, I called him a hot fuck. Still… he just met the faerie he was going to fall in love with, and couldn’t wait to go home to have some whoopee time with some hot fuck. Granted, the fuck was hot—at least, I thought so when I wrote it—and so was the bloke—according to Wisc’s possible love interest, also known as Callum.

And that was where the problems started, with a throw-away line at the end of the chapter that led to a hot sex scene at the beginning of Chapter Three. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed writing that sex scene, even if I wondered all through writing it, where the hell the story was going. As it turned out, that was only the beginning, because not even I realised until the almost end of that scene that Callum didn’t have a cock. I’d been so invested in fleshing out Wisc—the character I loved—that I’d left Callum to develop on page during the writing, and not once did it dawn on me that Callum was a transman. Of course, Callum was pretty pleased about passing so well even I hadn’t caught on until he hit me with the clue-bus.

I had to stop writing at that point. Not because the story wasn’t going where I thought I’d been taking it, but because I realised I couldn’t just let Callum develop as I wrote along. I wanted, needed, to know more about him.

And then I fell in love with Callum.

No problem, right? Loving our characters is pretty much a calculated job risk for us writers. A risk I’ve always been more than willing to take. No, the problem was that, suddenly, I found myself pushing Wisc’s story to the background. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved Wisc, but the more Callum revealed himself to me, the more I wanted to tell his story instead of Wisc’s.

After fleshing out Callum, I struggled with the story for a while as I tried to find the right balance between telling both men’s stories. But it didn’t work. As a last resort, I tried restarting chapter one, shuffling the scenes to get a better balance—writing one point of view per chapter obviously isn’t my thing. Still no luck. Not until a light bulb went off and I rewrote chapter one—again—starting the first scene from Callum’s point of view instead of Wisc’s. It still wasn’t smooth sailing, and I kept puttering away, kept changing things around. In the end, I completely deleted Wisc’s point of view scenes, and, slowly, everything fell into place.

My point with all this is that writing is an organic process, and whether a plotter or a pantser, things like this happen. It’s often the little things, like the ‘blind date that won’t go away’ thing that happened in Aliens, Smith and Jones and turned a short story into a novel. Whatever it is that turns our stories upside down, it keeps us writers on our toes. I’ll rant and rave about it when it happens, but it’s what makes writing interesting to me.
As for the hot fuck… he’s a bit of a slut who can’t bear being tied down—metaphorically speaking; he’s not opposed to bondage, at all—and he’s still in the story.

~~

Addendum (aka Further Proof that Writing Keeps Evolving):

Between writing this post and its publication, Callum and Wisc have decided to go their separate ways and are now both looking forward to starring in their own stories. The separation has been very amicably settled so far. Wisc took the title, the scenes already written have been split in half, with some overlap, and Wisc has generously granted Callum access to his great-uncle. And Julian? Well, as cute as he thought Wisc was, he wasn’t going anywhere unless he could stay with Callum.

~~

Blaine D. Arden is a purple haired, forty-something writer of gay and trans* romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes, and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.

You can find Blaine at blainedarden.com, Twitter,Facebook, and Goodreads.

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