You Can Have My Threesome When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands

You Can Have My Threesome When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands

Soliciting feedback on a work in progress is a delicate dance. On the one hand, beta readers can point out huge holes in continuity that you can’t see because you’re too close to the project. On the other hand, they may claim your erotic dystopian cyber-thriller is too erotic. Then you have a decision to make: do you keep the chapter with the threesome as-is because it’s the very crux of the entire novel? Or do you let the Puritans win?

I’ve been stuck on a particular chapter in Brigham Plaza for about two weeks now. The feedback I got from beta readers was that the intimate scene between a male character and two females characters “didn’t add anything to the story” and was “fan service” and “unnecessary.” So, being the professional and mature author that I am, I really tried to look at this chapter from every angle to see if the criticism was valid.

This required asking some questions:

  • Why are the characters doing this?
  • What am I trying to tell the reader?
  • Does this help define the world and the characters?

After much reflection, I realized it was the second question that really mattered. What am I trying to tell the reader with this graphic depiction of drug-fueled toe-curling?

This character is in pain.

That’s all this chapter is about. Only, you can’t just come out and say a character is in pain. You have to show it somehow. One of the themes of Brigham Plaza is, of course, identity. How do we present ourselves in different contexts?

How can I show that I’m in pain without hurting my brand? Or if I’m wearing an avatar in virtual reality? Or if I’m being paid to appear happy?

I thought about cutting out the threesome altogether. I spent a week writing alternatives, but none of them quite worked. You see, not all remedies are created equal. This character needed to feel vulnerable and raw. They needed connection, comfort, and contact. They needed to withdraw from the complexity of the world and be completely and simply present in themselves.

Maybe I lack creativity, but I could only think of one thing that fits those requirements.

So what was the answer?

Died a little inside scribbling this…

For now, the answer is compromise. Whenever I’m writing intimate scenes, I think back to how awkward I felt reading Altered Carbon when Tak hooks up with Miriam Bancroft. No offense to Richard Morgan, but the scene took me out of the book.

I really don’t want to do that to a reader.

To fix this chapter, I had to get a little meta. Instead of throwing the character directly into the one thing they really wanted, I had them try something else first, just to show the reader (and specifically, my beta readers) that it wasn’t enough. The character tries to deal with the pain, fails, and then tries something else.

The new efforts dovetail into the previous version of the chapter, and when things start to get hot and heavy, we simply pan to the fireplace. The reader should know what is coming, and if they want to imagine it in full Cinemax After Dark detail, that’s up to them.

Personally, I don’t see how I’m ever going to become the world’s foremost author of erotic dystopian cyber-thrillers if my novels lack graphic eroticism.

But, ya know. Maybe that’s a good thing.

TL;DR

I made a chapter better by taking out a threesome and replacing it with something more accessible because even though Americans are fickle, that’s no reason to subject them to my graphic description of mommy-daddy-mommy cuddling.

All I know is my character was in pain; all the characters in the chapter were in pain. And they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do.

Our only choice in the matter is the lens through which you see it.


Photo by Ahmed Ashhaadh on Unsplash

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