How To Write Real Characters

How To Write Real Characters

www.sadiesins.com

For those who don’t know, I come from a fanfiction background. That means for the first one to two dozen stories I dreamed up I was working with a character template laid down by another author. Sometimes by many authors. Fanfiction evolves characters beyond what the original author intended with tens to hundreds of new voices piping in with ideas. It’s a pretty awesome phenomenon. When I decided I wanted to write original stories, erotica at that, I was faced with a problem. How do I write a character from scratch? Not only that, how do I do it in a short format? How do I get the feeling of living, breathing, real characters when I only have 10,000 words to tell a story of them existing, meeting, and falling into bed (and love) together?

This problem stopped me for the longest time. As a new writer, I felt there was no way I could overcome such a complicated problem. How could anyone love my characters and feel for them the same way I did in the fanfictions I wrote? How could I love them—I didn’t even know them!

I researched, and kept coming across this rule of thumb I eventually decided to give a shot. The Blank Slate. Make your main character as flat and mundane as possible so the reader can relate. I wrote Coffee Guy. Jayden is the most unmemorable character for me, and I have a feeling for my readers as well. The supporting characters are more memorable than Jayden, whose biggest characterization is he likes tight jeans, moved from the country, and is a horny bitch.

So… Coffee Guy is pretty popular. Someone new reads it at least once a day if I go by my KU numbers. A lot of that has to do with it being a werewolf gangbang in an office setting with themes of BDSM, breeding, and humiliation. Keywords and hitting genres that interest people. And yeah, I have never worked in an office and have no interest in ever being in one, but hey, that was generic too in the hopes of reaching as wide a potential audience as possible. Offices are ‘adult’ jobs, so adults want to read about their lives or a life they find relatable. You’ll also notice I never revisited Coffee Guy. There was nothing there to go back to. I as an author don’t really care what happened to Jayden. There was nothing plot wise that made me go, crap, this needs a sequel so I can tell that story! It’s a bland fuck fic in a lot of ways no matter the knotting. It serves its purpose but I cannot, as a creative, sustain on writing things like that alone. I would become bored and stop—hence why you’ll never find me in an office. I don’t stick with things that bore me. I have to make the world I want to live in.

Fanfiction As A Cornerstone

Once I did finish Coffee Guy, it helped me see what I wanted as a writer, why I wrote all those fanfictions in the first place. I like to explore characters. I like to evolve them, I like to watch them grow, and learn, and fuck up, and all the things they do as people—that’s the story. That’s all my stories are. Yes, I’ll throw some fantastic elements in there sometimes on the paranormal level, plot to create conflict, but really I write stories (erotic stories) to explore the psyche of characters.

Doing Wrong started out as a fanfic (you can read the fanfic version for free here) This was my practice run. I turned a fanfiction into an original to try and understand the difference of original characters and fan characters. How could I write an entire backstory—one completely different from the fan character I based it off of—and still have it all fit? That’s what I set out to do. Instead, I ended up with a different question. Do I need to write a backstory? Just how original was the character template I was basing things off of in the first place?

What Makes a Character

As a new writer, I had it in my mind to truly understand a character you needed to know everything they went through. Events forged a character, and it was only once you knew that character their evolution through the events of the story would have an impact. Converting Doing Wrong helped me see it was unnecessary. I didn’t need to tell a story about who they used to be and how they got to that point, I needed to show the reader through the character’s actions, and thoughts who they are is being tested, questioned, challenged and asked to change in the events to come. Yes, some backstory helps in this endeavor, but it doesn’t require as much energy or page time as feared. The blanks are filled in by the character’s actions, and when you’re dealing with a short story, action is required over reflection. Things need to happen and unfold before you run out of words and your reader gets bored.

Crafting Your Character

If you’ve read any of my stories, you’ll find a pattern in the beginning, especially in the shorts. I spend the first scene(s) establishing the main character in the world. I understand that the conflicts to come are about changing my character, so I first want to establish who that character is so those changes are seen. Sure, this goes a bit into how he looks, where he lives, that sort of superficial thing. You can use these aspects of a character to help craft the setting. He’s this age, so he’s in this place in his life. He looks like this so he might be a paranormal. That sort of thing. Usually, though, I bring up how the character feels and the conflicts he’s facing in his everyday life. And with me, this is large and exaggerated. Short stories only have a few paragraphs to pull a reader in, so I enjoy establishing exaggerated emotions to keep eyes reading.

The creation of this character is not in how he looks, what he wears, and the things he owns. It’s all about how he reacts to things. Characters, like people, grow when faced with conflict. They also establish themselves and their uniqueness through how they interact with the world around them. That guy doesn’t like broccoli but just left a bizarre date who insisted he eat it, and he’s fuming for being treated like a child. That one is always tanned and dusty from his lawn work job; he doesn’t care what people think, he works hard. That guy hates Valentine’s Day. Why? Well, he’s going to bitch about it in his head and snarl at the people around him who love the day, and eventually, you’re going to find out his home life fuels his resentment of others in love. Yup, that’s how Drunk Blind, Stupid Cupid started.

Erotica Is Different?

Now, for erotica, the only expectation is to have sex be the center of it all. Sex is going to happen. Character growth, change, what have you, that’s more expected in, well, every other story out there that’s not erotica. I’m of the belief sex is a part of a human being and deserves the same respect and understanding as every other element. I write sex stories where people evolve on some level. I find it satisfying. I find the primitive nature of sex helps fuel growth better than other because it’s taking a character out of the societal structure and putting them into their body—a body is honest about its desires while a brain can lie a million times. This is why my approach is so different (and why I love dubcon.)

Let me say, in general, if you want to write great stories and strong characters no matter the focus of your story, this is how. You grow them. Great stories exist to make characters change and grow—it’s suddenly the meaning of life. Why do all these bad things happen? So you’ll become a better person or understand your existence more. If I were to rewrite Coffee Guy again, Jayden wouldn’t even start out a werewolf but a simple human trudging through his mundane life ignoring all the fun his irresponsible friends are having because he’s doing what he’s ‘supposed’ to. Gavin would flip his life upside down—maybe a corporate buyout if we’re keeping to the ‘office’ theme. He’d bite Jayden, and then we’d follow with a series of sexual encounters in this odd office setting guided by Gavin with a focus on voyeurism and Jayden letting go of his uptight need to be what he thinks the world demands. The events would revolve around changing Jayden through plot and sex instead of the initial story of sex for the sake of trying to sell a book.

A Slice Of Life Technique

I’m going to snag an example from Taken By Beasts, my Halloween collection of short stories to show you what I mean by crafting your character in the moment. Remember, the first scenes establish who the character is now before we have the plot come in to change him. And sometimes, that plot is already in motion—short stories require this. And really, when you’re writing a novel, you still want to entice and hook a reader in the beginning. You want things to be in the works before the reader skips off bored.

‘Going Wild’ is a little over 12,000 words. There is no time to fill in every impactful event that happened in Neil’s life to make him the way he is when you first meet him. No, we need to follow him along, learn about him while he’s figuring shit out (maybe he’s doing a little wallowing) and the plot happens. It’s important the things you show of your character are relatable.

Remember how I talked about that rule of thumb of Blank Slate characters? I truly feel that idea was warped from a much better concept: Make Your Characters Relatable! This asks for your reader to fill the voids you leave with things they understand in their life, instead of going crazy into descriptions. It asks the characteristics you do write to engage a reader on a human level. When something happens, you need your character to have a relatable reaction. It might not be everyone’s reaction, your character is unique, but it still needs a human understanding to set it as real in the world so your reader can suspend disbelief. Relatable characters can validate any crazy, unrealistic plot. They turn superhero daydreams into blockbuster movies.

Excerpt: ‘Going Wild’ from ‘Taken By Beasts’ by Sadie Sins (Oct. 2016)

Scene One

Neil dashed to his car, the trail of his black coat swirling around his legs and threatening to trip him up. He was already running late and Dave’s house was over two hours away. If he wanted to make it to his friend’s costume party on time, he was going to have to speed to get there. Normally, being late wouldn’t have been an issue, but there had been a rumble about Dave maybe getting married soon, and an even quieter rumor that he might actually have a kid on the way. Two things Neil knew he’d be a total ass for missing the announcements of. Seeing as Dave loved Halloween and was throwing a huge bash the weekend before, Neil was certain tonight would be the night he’d be telling all his friends.

***First paragraph, what do we already know? Neil cares about his friends and will dress up for Halloween. He’s at an age in his life where his friends are getting married and having kids but they still have a youthfulness where they throw crazy Halloween parties. This is new adult leaning towards adult.

He cranked his radio, hoping to drown out the sound of his straining motor as he pulled out of his apartment parking lot. His car had been getting worse the last month but he really didn’t have the cash to get it looked at. Things had been tight ever since his break up with Kara. Not only had she left him, but also his apartment, footing him with half the rent and utilities until he could find a roommate. Things had been quiet since. Too quiet. He was really looking forward to Dave’s party if only to see all his old friends and remember what it was like to not feel so alone.

***Neil has car problems and just broke out of a serious enough relationship that it effected him financially. Again, this is aging him to be established as an adult in the world but not fully set financially. He’s lonely from the break up and his support system is far away.

He had moved out to the boonies to be with Kara. He had met her three years ago at a party, surprisingly enough, thrown by Dave. She had been the date of a guy who hadn’t lastest long enough for him to even learn the name of. No, Kara had danced her way straight into his heart in front of a bonfire while a group of guys had been drumming—really badly, at that. Neil had never thought he’d fall for a total hippie and move halfway across the state for her, but it had happened. Two months after the breakup and he was still reeling on just what the hell to do with himself.

***This guy is loyal. He will change his life for a girl he just met including leaving his home behind. He’s a puppy when in love and now he’s hurting. Kara went through a date right before meeting him but Neil thought he would last—idealistic.

He had been back home long enough to realize he really didn’t belong there anymore. The suburban town he had grown up in with their shopping malls and Starbucks and SUVs didn’t fit the way he saw the world anymore. The only problem was, neither did his lonely apartment or current job. He had no idea what he wanted out of life and even less idea where to look. Kara had been such a fixture in the world he had built the last three years and having her gone had torn out the foundation of everything he was.

***Neil is at a crossroads. Lost. He doesn’t know who he is. This is pretty common for this age. You don’t need to be at mid life to have a who the fuck am I and what the fuck am I doing with my life crisis. This is relatable humanity and it tends to hit whenever something big happens and a person feels left behind.

He caught his reflection in his rearview mirror, blinking for a moment until he remembered the crazy makeup he had put on for his costume. He had chosen to go as the Goblin King from Labyrinth in honor of David Bowie’s passing. Finding a wig that worked had been a bitch but he was pretty sure his costume was going to be a big hit. He wanted to be able to claim props for the ingenious costume and idea but it had just been another one of Kara’s couple costumes that he hadn’t been able to say no to at the time. Now he was wearing it because he couldn’t think of anything else.

Neil sighed heavily, trying to lose himself in the drive. His entire life, he’d always been a follower. It was just who he was. Some people, they’d talk about all their great ideas and the things they were doing, and he’d wonder how he could help them. He had wanted to help Kara start her new business running her dance and yoga studio. She had gotten frustrated at him, telling him he should have his own dreams. Apparently, his dreams of a big family with her had not been reciprocated. Then she had left him for a man that had built his own solar business from the ground up.

He had wished he was a different person then. It wasn’t that he was incapable of doing his own things—he could do pretty much anything he set his mind to. He was brilliant at numbers, industrious, fit, and rarely got sick. Neil should have been able to have reached any goal he set his mind to. But he never had the motivation to do things for himself. He was always looking for ways he could be useful to other people—It was the only way he felt right in his own skin and even though his friends had tried to change him, he was happy the way he was.

And now he was alone.

***Neil lacks self esteem. It’s part of him feeling like an accessory instead of a leader. He wants to find his value but he’s looking for someone else to give it to him. He assumes it’s in a relationship. This is pretty common—but let’s be honest, not necessarily an attractive main character trait. We’re used to those dashing heros who never second guess a thing. Neil is all about second guessing when he’s on his own. He’s a support character, like the majority of humanity. Neil is flawed in a normal, human way, which makes him relatable and hopefully inspires the reader to want to see him grow and have a happy ending. It’s easy to empathize with Neil.

All the friends he had made when moving in with Kara were connected to her. They had all pretty much chosen her in the breakup. He could understand it—from their point of view, he was the outsider. Even though he had done everything to be useful and pleasant. Generous to a fault; he used to think that couldn’t be possible. Now he was starting to see the faults in giving so much and not expecting anything in return.

Another deep sigh escaping him, he turned the car out onto the winding highway that would lead him first through forest and field before taking him back to his old home town. Still daylight, the drive was alight with a multitude of red, orange, and brown leaves, most on the ground while a few stragglers clung to their respective trees and quaked in the wind. He usually loved this time of year. Campfires and friends, the wild energy before winter came and put the world to sleep under a white blanket. Lately, Neil felt like those leaves, being blown around which ever way the wind chose at the time, small, fragile and without direction.

Hopefully seeing his old friends would change that. He desperately needed to be reminded of who he was before Kara had been in his life. His only fear being, he wasn’t sure if he had much liked that version of himself either.

***Human. Neil is seeking answers about himself outside of himself. He’s aware that he feels lost and like shit and is hoping by going home, he’ll find answers. But even he knows there isn’t any going back—the person he was before got him into the mess with Kara in the first place by falling for someone who didn’t appreciate his value. He needs a solution at this crossroads and he has no idea what it will look like.

Scene Two

“Shit… Mother fucking shit!” Neil resisted the urge to actually kick his car, falling back on stringing together a long line of curse words. Kara had hated when he swore. She would flinch, then say something about how he ‘needed to be positive for positive energy to come his way.’ Neil took a strange glee in thinking up and shouting five more swear words he hadn’t used since he was a teenager.

His car had just stopped. Well, not completely. It had whined when he was trying to get it to go up a mountain path, stuttered long before he even got to the crest of the steep hill, and then had made a terrible grinding noise before abruptly dying on him. And dead it was. It wouldn’t even make a noise when he turned the key, no warning ding or light to announce that the door was open. The fucking thing was dead.

***Remember how we mentioned the car in the first scene? Yeah, that was important. Small hints unveil a story. Neil here can’t even swear without thinking about how he’s breaking his ex’s rules. He’s just starting the path of being his own man and it’s seen in simple shit like swearing uselessly.

Drawing in a deep breath, Neil grabbed his cell phone from his car holder. “Fuckballs,” he muttered in disbelief. No reception. He couldn’t even call for a taxi or a tow. There was no way he’d make it to Dave’s now. He was an hour out into the middle of fucking nowhere, no one knew he was there, and he couldn’t even call for help.

***No, he cannot get a break. We are going to conflict the fuck out of this character to make him grow. Welcome to drama for the sake of plot and character development.

Making sure his emergency break was set so his car didn’t fall down the hill, Neil got out of his car and made sure all the doors were locked. He had taken this road before enough to remember that shortly after this hell of a hill there was a plateau for a long stretch and then a sharp decline with a gas station at the foot of the mountain. He couldn’t remember if they actually did repairs but he felt like he could remember there being a tow truck in the lot next to them whenever he had driven by. He glanced at his phone, swearing again when he saw the time. Nightfall was fast approaching and for all he knew, the place had already closed at 5.

It was his only plan though so he was going to stick with it. Neil had done his fair share of camping. He was hardly going to die if he had to huddle up against the side of a building until someone opened the place tomorrow morning. Decided, he set out up the last of the hill, keeping to the side of the road just in case a car came flying by. It was difficult walking, tall grass and brambles pulling at his clothes and skin, and the footing uneven at best. Still, it was safer than the middle of the road. The last thing he needed was to be hit by a car on top of his shit of a day.

***Our boy insists he’s a follower, but he’s brave, and leads his ass to doing what he needs to get done. He’s got a brain on him and when conflict knocks, he doesn’t hide in the car.

Neil huddled forward in his costumed jacket, wishing he had thought to bring a proper coat as the cold wind whipped around him. His high collared black jacket, ruffled white shirt, and black skinny jeans really weren’t designed to protect him from the elements. He didn’t want to think about what he was going to do come Monday morning. He had no money to repair his car and his boss was a very no-nonsense kind of guy. Being late was not an option. Maybe John would take pity on him? His coworker of the last three years, Neil hadn’t been able to get past simple small chat about the weather when it came to John. Still, his options were really limited and he needed to try them all before he admitted defeat.

***Three years and Neil hasn’t made any connections in his new home to even guarantee a ride into work. He depended solely on Kara and her circle of friends and never build a support system. This is not unheard of at his age—why is it so hard for people to make friends these days? Neil is on his own in so many aspects of his life and it can be relatable.

Neil had just made it to the crest of the hill when he stopped short, the lonely howl of a wolf rising up and echoing off the trees. He raised his head, truly looking around him for the first time in the growing twilight. It wasn’t something he had noticed while zipping along in his car but as the hair shivered up on the back of his neck, he found himself extremely aware of the fact that he was actually out in the wilderness, the world untouched except for the road he was following beside.

The air had an orange tint to it, the sun well on its way to setting for the evening, the forest around him looking nearly black in comparison. Life was rustling around him, or at least, the wind was making all the brush and trees move, Neil’s gaze jumping at each sound as he stared into the dark trees right next to him. He knew he was being paranoid but he felt like he was being watched. Fighting back a shiver, he forced his legs forward, going at a faster pace now that he was on level ground. He wasn’t sure how long the walk was going to take but he wanted to take advantage of the daylight for as long as it lasted.

Scene Three

By the time night had fallen fully around him, Neil was certain he was being followed. Beneath his labored breathing and the sounds of his footsteps crunching in the leaves, he could hear more than one body moving around in the dark. He was doing his best to ignore it; something primitive in the recesses of his mind warned him that when prey showed signs of being stalked, they were soon taken down. And stalked he felt, the sounds of bushes rustling far too close beside him while he kept as near to the dangerous highway as he dared. More leaves rustled behind him from different points, his ears straining as he tried to count just how many were behind him.

***Neil understands fear. He’s self aware enough to no only identify he might be followed but to not appear aware in case it alerted his hunters. Why does he keep thinking he’s a support character? That’s cool beans.

Not human—He could tell that much. Too low to the ground and full of growls and sometimes yips and whines that made him think of dogs, maybe coyotes or foxes. Wolves, probably. Given the howl he had heard earlier, he wouldn’t be surprised if they were wolves.

“You lost, boy?”

Neil stopped cold, holding his breath as he stared deep into the darkness to the right of him. He could have sworn he’d just heard a man call out to him. “Hello? Is… Is someone there?” He asked, his voice too sharp with fear.

***Some people would be so full of fear, defensive, worried whatever/whoever might be out there, it’s better to not get their attention. Neil is the trusting type to call out even though he’s scared. People don’t scare him although wolves might.

There was a crack, a stick breaking behind him. He whirled, gasping when for a moment he saw the burning eyes of a creature shining from the edge of the road, the clouded moonlight dimly illuminating bristling fur and sharp ears. It was a canine. A really big canine. Neil reached for his phone in his pocket, fumbling for a light. By the time he had it shining, there was nothing there to see.

“Ha ha, looks like we have a rocker, boys. A sexy one.”

Neil whirled, holding the light up, met only with a wall of tree trunks. He held himself still, straining to hear but the silence stretched on, broken only by the sounds of rustling leaves. Fuck, was he hearing things now?

He took a step back to where he was heading, jumping when another howl rang out, this one much closer than before. “Shit!” He yelped, clutching his chest where his heart was pounding as he looked around again. His cell illuminated something moving but it was too quick to really get a look at. It had seemed big. Big and furry.

Jesus, he was going to die out there.

***Neil feels mortal. He’s hearing things he’s certain are actually there, and he’s seeing things he’s pretty certain are real. This world hasn’t established if the paranormal are everyday. Neil isn’t in a rush to make a decision, he just wants out.

Whimpering under his breath, Neil forced his legs to move, his steps loud in his ears as he listened for signs of being followed. There were far too many, the bushes beside and behind him rustling as creatures nearly as large as him passed by.

“Aw, he’s scared,” a voice growled from behind him. Neil swallowed hard and kept walking. It didn’t sound human. He was either fucking hallucinating someone talking in the dark, or there was someone— “Come here, baby. I’ll be real sweet to you.”

Neil jolted as raucous laughter suddenly filled the air. “Real sweet, bitch!” Another voice howled, others joining in with half hoots, half yips of excitement.

He glared behind him, his hand shaking as he pointed his phone towards where he had thought the last voice had come from. He gasped, yards away a wolf staring back at him, its eyes glinting yellow even as the laughter faded from the air.

***So I love this. Because even though he’s terrified and thinks he’s going crazy, he does not like being made fun of enough he actually glares back defiantly. Neil has a backbone.

Oh, fuck… Fuck, fuck, fuck. His feet moving on their own accord, Neil backed away from the creature. The wind swept up, leaves swirling around him, his coat flapping wildly and obscuring his view.

“Whoo, look at that sweet ass! Come here, boy, I’m going to ride you!” Someone barked or yelled, the strange shout followed quickly by a howl, then another, the woods coming alive with the sounds of wolves.

All Neil could say for certain was the voice hadn’t come from the wolf he was staring at, although he couldn’t say it had come from a human, the words distorted and full of growls. Hell, he was either losing his mind or he was being hunted by a bunch of verbose, really dickish wolves. Looking behind him again, he saw two huge wolves this time, one pouncing on the other, growling and snapping at its nape. Snarling, the other twisted, wrestling the first to the leaf-strewn ground.

Fuck, he wasn’t imagining that. Neil was done wondering, done trying to figure out if he was crazy as fuck. He was ready to get the fuck away. Fear jolting through him, his hands shaking, he jumped the knee high metal barrier. Somehow he was certain if a car hit him, it would still be better than being caught in the jaws of those giant wolves. The valley was ahead. If he could just make it to the bottom, he could take shelter in the gas station where there would be at least an attendant and a phone.

As if reading his mind, the howls rang out again, clamorous, broken by barks and yips like a crazed battle cry.

***Neil is human; fear makes him either freeze, fight or flight. He is very smartly flighting.

“Mother fucker!” Neil took off, his feet slamming on the pavement as he ran as fast as his shaking limbs would allow. He hit the other side of the hill, the ground dropping down steeply in the dark. Eyes wide, he changed the angle of his feet, his arms wheeling, hands hitting the pavement while he bent sideways to keep from falling. He looked up when another strange howl rang out right next to his position, his breath hitching when he caught sight of the creature revealed in the breaking moonlight.

It had the head of a wolf, the muzzle open to reveal large fangs. But the rest—the rest was definitely human. Broad, smooth shoulders, bare torso, hard muscled thighs…

“Son of a bitch,” Neil whispered in shock the same instant his foot missed a step. He tumbled sideways, scraping his arm and cheek on the rough pavement. He flipped twice, finally catching himself, bruised and pained on the cement, his head throbbing dully. The night fell silent; he wasn’t sure because of the hit to his skull or if the wolves had left. Raising his head, he looked over to the woods, his stomach lurching when he found at least seven of the giant wolves glaring back at him, watching silently. There was no half wolf, half man—Not that it mattered. Neil knew the ones before him were definitely monstrous enough as they were.

***Again, human. Imperfect. He can fall on his ass, get hurt, not be a hero who does everything perfectly.

They weren’t moving, just staring, maybe trying to figure out if he had done all the work for them and gotten himself killed on his own. Not yet. Not if he could fucking help it. Actually—Neil scowled as he took in the panting expressions on the wolves’ faces. The fuckers looked like they were laughing at him!

***Ah, the outrage of being mortal. Love you, Neil.

Ignoring the quake to his limbs, the taste of blood, and sting of his palms, he pushed himself up back to his feet. He didn’t bother looking at the pack next to him—Either he’d run and they’d let him escape, or they’d kill him. He realized with a sinking that he was expecting the latter and really didn’t want to see it coming.

Fairly certain tripping just once more would be the death of him, Neil focused on what he could see of the black pavement coated in slippery leaves. The light of the gas station was in the distance. He was still far above it, the hill he was on inclining sharply before leveling out to reach the small refuge. God, if he could just make it there. It wasn’t too far—a football field, tops. He wasn’t dead yet.

The trail of his coat wrapped around his leg and he gasped, catching himself before he could fall again. He quickly twisted the trailing end around his arm and took sure, shaking steps sideways down the pavement, his hand held out to catch himself anytime too many leaves slipped under his shoes.

***Hyper focused on a task to block out fear. Again, human response. He’s still scared but he’s coping. Survival.

His fearful gasps loud in his ear and his eyes trained determinedly on the ground before him, it took Neil some time to realize that the noises of the wolves had not resumed. Biting his bottom lip, he dared to look back, his steps faltering again when he found the beasts still there. They hadn’t moved from their spot, staring down from the top of the hill like specters with glowing, deadly eyes.

Maybe it was too close to people or out of their territory? Neil could only hope, forcing his gaze forward and away from the strange wolves and focusing on the gas station now only twenty yards away. The ground was already flattening out, Neil’s hands shaking somehow even more as he found his sanctuary in sight. The entire building was a lit up beacon to any traveler on such a cold, dark night. As the light that illuminated the pumps reached him, Neil dared another look back to the hill. A howl rang out, then another until the entire night was filled with the joined cries. He shuddered, his mind flashing again to the voices he had heard… the wolf-headed man…

There had been men up there. Maybe crazy mountain men that thought it was funny to scare the fuck out of some broken down traveler while wearing masks. Or maybe wolf men…

Neil shook his head fiercely, stepping fully into the light of the gas station and pushing the thought from his mind. It was easy to let what he had feared in the dark slip away now in the artificial glow of humanity. Of course his mind had been playing tricks on him. That was all. He had been scared and in the dim light with the trees casting shadows and leaves all around, his brain had just pieced together the most ridiculous, terrifying of possibilities. Werewolves.

Everyone knew werewolves didn’t exist.

Looking at the small blue and white building, Neil altered his direction slightly, heading for the door where a neon ‘open’ sign glowed. There was indeed a tow truck parked in the otherwise empty lot. If his luck held out, the owner of it was inside.

***Neil explains his own rationalization. It is easy when afraid to act like it didn’t happen once you’re in an assumed place of safety. He doesn’t want werewolves to exist so he’s going to pretend it all away to be able to deal with his life. And that would totally work if this was the end of the story. Instead, we’re going to see how Neil acts when around another human being and isn’t just talking to himself.

Scene Four

The door chime that greeted him as he stepped into the gas station was surreal after what Neil had just been through.

“Hey, welcome to… Oh. My liege.”

Neil looked towards the counter cluttered with lighters and small impulse buys, confused to find a young man bowing, his arm sweeping out in a grand gesture. “Umm…”

“Goblin King, right? Labyrinth. I totally loved that movie.” The man straightened, his light brown hair teasing into his eyes as he flashed Neil an easy grin. “Total shame about Bowie.”

***Remember that costume he’s wearing? Yeah, you do now. It’s Halloween! Neil is also realizing as he fourth walls the next paragraph he’s fucked. Halloween and werewolves.

Neil had definitely walked onto some sort of horror movie set. Monster wolves outside and he was either staring at the hero or the hot model first to be devoured. The guy was hot—disturbingly, unnaturally, drooling on the floor hot. At least six-foot-five with a body that had all the right muscles without being built in a gym, the attendant was dressed simply in jeans and a tight gray t-shirt. Bristle darkened his square jaw, his amber eyes startling as he peered out from beneath sharp brows. As Neil watched, the man’s smile grew, revealing just a hint of sharp canines from between lush lips.

“Right, Bowie,” Neil said lamely, realizing he was totally staring and the man was still waiting for some sort of acknowledgment that he was alive and breathing. Fuck, he must look like a total mess. Not that it mattered—there was no way he was making the party now. No, instead he was out in the middle of nowhere, dressed like an idiot in front of the hottest guy he’d ever met.

***Now, if you didn’t read the previous stories, or the back of the book, you might not of realized until this point that this is actually a MM erotic story. I don’t usually take 4 scenes in before establishing our main character likes dick, but this was an exception because it was the last in a compilation, and I enjoy setting up scenarios before having characters go at it. Tension building.

Shit, how could he seriously give a fuck about something like that after being chased by a pack of wolves?

But Neil did, heat rising to his cheeks the longer the young man’s eyes moved none too subtly over him. He wasn’t even gay. Maybe bi—Neil had found himself looking at some guys but he had never actually acted on it. Women had been enough for him, at least, enough to not feel the need to open himself up to a world of confusion and potential social upheaval just by pursuing men. Not to mention, having to deal with rejection by an entirely new gender. No, he had enough problems.

***Aw, Neil. You just want to hug him and give that boy some self esteem. He’s just so damn human.

“I was headed to a Halloween party,” Neil finally mumbled, feeling like it was really important to mention he didn’t go around dressed like some sort of sexy goblin hottie every day.

“That’s too bad. And here I was thinking I was about to be whisked off to a land of magic and muppets,” super hot attendant teased, his eyes sparkling in a way that went straight to his dick.

Neil was pretty sure his night could not get any worse. Missing Dave’s party, the stalking by wolves, and now just having to deal with the overwhelming anxiety of having someone absolutely out of his league treat him like an interesting human being.

God, his life sucked.

***It’s tough, Neil, it’s tough. XD

“Yeah, um, well, the thing is, my car kind of broke down,” Neil said, stepping around a rack of maps to get to the counter, doing his best to not actually look the guy in the eye. He was pretty sure if he did, he’d start babbling like an imbecile. “Uh, well, it fully broke down. Dead. Might not be rising from the grave ever again,” he muttered, running his hand through his hair only to frown when he remembered he was wearing a very spiky wig straight from the 80’s.

“Hmm.” Assessing him for a silent moment, taking in the scrape on his cheek and the way his clothes were disheveled, the attendant straightened, his eyes going alert. “You didn’t happen to walk down that big hill, did you?”

Neil nodded, looking down and wiping his stinging, dirty palms on his form-fitting jeans. “More like rolled, a little bit of falling. Maybe even a flail or two…”

***Neil handles his low self esteem by joking. It belittles him while at the same time makes him feel interesting enough to overcome all his other downfalls. This couldn’t have been seen when he was on his own but now when faced with a hot guy he’s attracted to, his natural humor defense makes a showing.

His smile fading, the attendant stepped out from around the counter. “That’s a dangerous hill, especially in the dark on foot. Are you alright?”

Neil tried to dodge the hand reaching for his face but the man was faster, holding him by the side of the head while he stepped into his personal space and studied the bruise forming on his temple.

“I’m Silas, by the way.” Surprisingly gentle fingers probed the side of Neil’s face through his ridiculous wig. “And I think you’re going to survive, my goblin liege.”

His face bright red, Neil nodded weakly and mumbled out his name while stepping back. He missed when Silas leaned close, the man breathing him in silently, an intent expression on his face. Neil had made the drastic mistake of looking him in the eye and he now felt ready to crawl under a rock until his tongue eventually untied.

***As we can see, Kara must have tied Neil up to catch him because this boy cannot take charge. Maybe it’s because of Silas and he’s not great dealing with this side of his bi attraction, but you get the feeling Neil is just too adorable to handle being attracted to someone. Puppy.

“I have a tow truck parked out back.” Silas tilted his head towards the door Neil had come through. “We can go pick up your car. See if it can be raised from the dead one more time.”

The idea of claiming his property was ruined somewhat by what he was certain was still waiting for him if he dared anywhere near the top of that hill. “Uh… the thing is… there was something…” he trailed off, uncertainty filling him as he tried to filter just what exactly had happened through his fear. “Wolves,” he finally blurted, pursing his lips after.

His eyebrow raising, Silas leaned an arm on the counter behind him, taking in Neil’s nervous expression.

“Wolves?”

“Yeah.” He licked his lips nervously. “Really dickish wolves.”

Silas snorted, quickly schooling his features when Neil glared his way. “Dickish wolves?” He repeated with a note of humor in his voice.

“Yeah. Assholic, really.” Neil thought back to some of the things he had heard being growled and hollered out there in the dark among the howls, remembering the way the fuckers had been laughing at him. “Total dicks.”

Nodding his head with a look that spoke of how Silas was too polite to call someone crazy to their face—definitely hero quality—he pushed himself up again. “Let me just grab my keys and lock up, then we can get your car. Are you a long way off?”

“Uh, it was like an hour walk,” Neil said, his eyes widening. “Really, I don’t think it’s safe. There were like, seven of them at least.” Rude. Really rude, horny wolves that he just couldn’t explain, not wanting to seem absolutely insane at this point.

***Neil is starting to face what he went through because he has to go through it again—It was a weird walk of shame, huh? His fear does not overwhelm his annoyance at being wolf called while scared in the middle of nowhere. This is pretty quirky of him, and don’t you just love him for it?

His mouth quirking at the corner, Silas reached over and under the counter, Neil left to stare at the man’s perfect ass in jeans while he fished his keys free. “The thing is, Neil, there aren’t any wolves in these parts.” Silas ran a hand through his tousled locks as he straightened. “Well, none that would hurt a nice guy like you. You’ve got nothing to be afraid of—Well, except for having your car broken into because some asshole saw it abandoned on the side of the road.”

***I know I’m pointing out all of Neil’s characterizations. Silas has been giving off little hints like a motherfucker. It will continue. The audience is guessing. Neil might be a little dim.

Swallowing hard, Neil couldn’t answer. He didn’t want to go back out there but he knew he also couldn’t hide out in the small little gas station staring at sexy ass Silas for the rest of his life… Maybe he could. There was plenty of food there in the form of chips and microwaveable crap, bottles of fresh water, and even beer. He could even take up smoking to pass the time, given the cartons of the stuff. Silas seemed to think he was amusing—Or was just laughing at him.

Hey, being laughed at would still be better than being torn apart by wolves. Well, verbally torn apart.

“Total dicks,” Neil muttered under his breath, fuming every time he heard that laughter ring out in his mind.

***Aww. Pride, embarrassment, resentment, fear, and self jokes to make it all better.

“What was that?” Silas asked, fiddling with his key ring.

Neil bit his lip, glancing at the handsome man. Maybe the pack would be gone by now? There had to be better prey roaming around the forest by this point.

“Nothing. Think I could use your phone?” Neil asked, wondering if he could call Dave and let him know he wasn’t going to make it. Maybe let him know where he was just in case those wolves decided to use their teeth this time around.

Silas nearly dropped his keys, catching them before they hit the floor. “Sure, if it was working,” he said gruffly. “The wind keeps knocking it out. Too many trees out here. I keep asking them to fix it, but you know how the phone company gets.”

His heart sinking, Neil sighed. Of course. He had seen too many horror movies to expect otherwise.

“You wouldn’t happen to be a serial killer in disguise, would you?” Neil asked nonchalantly while Silas was locking the door behind them.

Glancing his way, amber eyes burning into his, Silas replied with a small smirk, “If I was, I probably shouldn’t tell you. Totally ruins the surprise, right?”

Right. Neil quickly asked where the bathroom was. If he was going to die, he wasn’t going to do it in crazy rocker hair and a coat that could have belonged to Liberace.

***Yup, Neil fourth walls all over this scene. He’s quirky like that. It really helps put you in the feel of a b horror movie.

Sooo… The next scenes are getting to know you, sex, werewolves fighting, and more sex. Don’t get me wrong, characterization happens in bounds still. Neil grows, he holds his own, he even gets into some werewolf face. It’s good stuff. But at this point, this is about the character evolving off of all the information we established him with in these first scenes. The first scenes are the most important for Neil. They build him. We’ve built Silas too, although not as thoroughly. Silas is that 2-D hero we need to ‘save’ Neil from his mundane, lost existence. His requirements are to be the puzzle piece to make Neil complete instead of a full exploration of his character. In a novel, that shit doesn’t fly, but it’s perfect for an erotic short.

Now, if you were asked to describe Neil, you might not really remember what he looks like outside of that Labyrinth costume (and if you don’t get the Bowie reference, alas, you know even less.) But you will know what he feels like. He’s the type of guy who wants to build a family with someone he loves. He wants a place where he fits. He doesn’t think well of himself but he’s starting to realize that he’s worth something even though he’s been left behind. He sure refuses to put up with jeers from asshole werewolves from the side of the road no matter how scared he is. When pushed, Neil pushes back while before he was unclaimed luggage. The more he walks on his own, the deeper he goes on this journey of self-discovery right into the den of a confident, welcoming, amber-eyed Silas and a pack of shit-talking werewolves.

This fuck fic is not a series of disconnected events, it’s a story to not only satisfy on a sexual level, but on an intellectual and spiritual level. When you write real characters, you want to see them grow. You want to see them find joy and love, and contentment just like what you want for people you care about. Conflict resolution involves that resolution at the end and that means not just for the plot, but for Neil. He needs to find who he is in all this, or at least the path that will lead him there, to make this story really shine.

Hey, thanks for taking the time to read my take on writing. <3 Love to hear what you think.

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