I’m taking a moment away from writing, in spite of a looming deadline, to go over a few things because first, I am a dirty rotten procrastinator who puts off work, but mostly because some reader misperceptions have come to light and I really would like to address them.
It seems the point of some scenes were misinterpreted. Here are the two specific instances I’m referring to…
In Valentine Cowboys there is a scene in a calving shed. The two young ranch hands have to help a young cow deliver her first calf because this is a high risk birth. The cowboys take care of their work while the heroine watches, and in the end, they have sex with the heroine right there in the calving shed.
There are many reasons I wrote this scene. They are…
1) To show how these two young ranch hands had to, for the first time in their lives, handle a difficult birth on their own because their boss had been pulled away. The two young cowboys are hard workers, but they can be jokers at times, and to have them be completely responsible for the life or death of not only the cow but also the calf, on a working ranch where the loss of either is a considerable financial loss not to mention the devastation of the loss of life, is a big deal for them. It’s a right of passage. It’s a growth experience.
2) I needed the heroine to see them as more than just two guys who shovel manure for a living. For the first time she realizes the expanse of their job. That it’s more than what she assumed. They have responsibilities. More than that, they are good at what they do, and handle a difficult delivery perfectly. Their capability, and being in charge of the situation, adds to her already existing attraction to the two men.
3) I’d done a shitload of research on calving and I was going to use it somewhere, dammit!
So that is why I wrote the scene. It developed the characters and their relationship. It was never meant to entice sexually. I never thought, expected or assumed the reader would find the birthing scene sexual. It was never meant to be. Yes, sex happens in that calving shed but it’s because the three characters are already attracted to each other, and they take advantage of being alone in the middle of the night in the shed. Compared to their first time together in the front seat of a truck in a parking lot outside a bar, having the whole shed to themselves seems like a luxury. The heroine is a guest in her grandmother’s home. The two cowboys live in the bunkhouse with their boss. So opportunity and privacy is a challenge.
Another reader misperception I was told about but didn’t see first hand is from the opening scene in TREY.
In this scene the hero’s squad is on a training mission. It’s called OPFOR and they play the part of the Opposing Force, or the bad guys, to help train another unit for what sneaky tactics to expect from the insurgents when the US unit deploys to Afghanistan. So they must set up traps and ambushes and hide improvised explosive devices, all to catch the other unit unaware in hopes that it will teach them a valuable lesson and prevent them from making the same mistake again overseas. So Trey and his unit are playing at war games, kind of like a paintball game, or laser tag on steroids (the game, not the men). His unit is the best of the best, and they know they can use their expertise to beat the pants off the other team. Yes, winning is fun, but the lessons they are teaching will save lives.
What I did was not let the reader know for the first couple of pages that this is a training. It reads like a real battle and until we discover his identity, we don’t know who Trey really is or what he’s doing there.
The comment I was told about said something to the effect of how horrible it was that Trey was rejoicing over killing people. Most likely the reader didn’t read farther than the first page to discover this was all an exercise. If they did, they still missed that Trey rejoicing that he managed to “blow up” his opposition is because this is just a game. He is a competitive Alpha male running on adrenaline. Much like a quarterback during the big game, he likes to win. But more important, Trey knows that the other unit will never repeat the same mistake again because of the beating they took, and that will save their lives in real combat. I would never ever write a character who takes another life lightly. More importantly, my character wasn’t actually killing people.
That’s it. I’ve made my explanations. Now I can go back to writing and you may all carry on with your day. Thanks for listening!