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TickleMantis

Balancing Plot and Action (part one)

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Hello Friends!

It's only been about, oh 8~ years since my last blog post here. Without exaggeration it could easily be another 8 years before my next one! The reason for my writing now is because, as I sit working on the next installment of the Tickle Tutor series, I've been thinking a lot about the balance of plot and action, such as it is.

At the time of writing this post my longest story yet, Tickle Tutor #5: The Terrible Origin of Jai Lin, has been online for a little over 24 hours. As the fifth installment of an ongoing and interconnected series the cast of characters, relationships, plot lines and various time periods are numerous indeed. Suffice to say, there is a lot to keep track of. Continuity can be a challenge at the best of times -even in a standalone story- once you start stretching that out over multiple installments the task of maintaining everything becomes as much work as writing the stories themselves. It can be very, very easy -tempting even- to get caught up in the story and forget about the unique reason most people have sought out your work: The sexy, salacious and oh so wonderful tickle torture.

So, you may wonder, why bother with this balancing act at all? Why not simply write stories that jump straight into the action? It's a fair question. It's one most modern producers of tickling video clips asked a long time ago and answered with a resounding "Story? Plot? Who needs 'em?". That is by no means a slight against video producers, it makes complete sense. It's a heck of a lot cheaper and more profitable to simply strap a model down and tickle her silly than it is to have her fumble through a loosely written script for the sake of some vague reason to have her tickled. Who needs a reason when most of the target audience won't care anyway, and just want to see the model start laughing? I have a personal preference on the matter, which you may have garnered by now, but again I don't fault the video producers for not catering to my taste. I am very much in the minority -which is why I'm going to make an argument for why even the most minor of plots can add so much more to your product, regardless of medium.

If you're a regular reader of tickling fiction you've no doubt come across the old "Jane woke up tied to a bed and the masked stranger started tickling her." trope. Now while tropes aren't inherently a bad thing (far from it!), read any thread that asks readers what they don't like in their tickling stories and this trope, almost without fail, will get mentioned sooner or later. The reason this trope comes up is because, more often than not, the story of Jane will involve tickling action but it won't -and this is key- give the readers a reason to care about Jane, or The Stranger or the (likely non-existent) stakes of the story. This can all be solved with a paragraph or two of setup. Here's where we circle back to our original question: Why bother?

Tickling stories are little different than action movies. Watching a car chase is cool, watching a character fend of half a dozen thugs is fun, it's an entertaining visual experience for many a movie goer. It can be also be -and I feel it important to note this is an entirely subjective yet not unpopular opinion- very boring, very quickly. Without a reason to care audiences by and large aren't going to feel much else than a sense of mild, mostly forgettable entertainment. As much as no one cares about our nameless car-driving, thug-punching hero, no cares about Jane tied to the bed either. Now let's imagine before all those car chases and dynamic fist fights, we're first introduced to our hero. We learn a bit about our protagonist and what's important to them, what their goals are, maybe what they need to do to achieve them and what they need to overcome. This is Writing 101 of course, it's the fundamentals of a good story. And what good story is does is add to the action.

Suddenly that cool car chase isn't just a visual treat anymore. Now we the audience want, heck now we need our hero to catch the bad guy in the other car. Maybe the hero's spouse -who we met earlier in the film and is very likeable- is in danger. Maybe a bomb is going to go off and put an end to the quirky sidekick. With a little legwork from the writer(s) the audience is so much more invested, their level of entertainment and (hopefully) enjoyment is multiplied a thousand fold. So let's untie Jane from her bed for a moment and rewind.

Jane's a sweet girl trying her best to get by. We see she has a cat, which she cares for. BUT, Jane's rent is late again. Not to worry, she's presenting a big idea to her boss tomorrow, if it goes well she'll almost certainly get that promotion! The promotion will allow her to keep on top of the rent and buy Mr. Whiskers better kibble. Jane won't have to move back in with her mother. Now we the audience care about Jane, now we're invested in seeing Jane achieve her goal. So Jane goes to bed late -she stayed up working on her presentation- only to wake up tied to her bed with a stranger looming over her. The stranger wants Jane's idea and needs the password for her laptop. Maybe we learn the stranger is a coworker, vying for that same promotion. Of course this diabolical person will get the password because they know Jane's secret weakness.

Alright, it's a cliche plot and there's not much to it, but that's the point. With very little set up suddenly watching Jane get tickle tortured has taken on new meaning. There's the hot tickling action for the audience to enjoy and now there's the fate of Jane's future and whether or not Mr. Whiskers gets to enjoy a finer food in his kitty bowl. Our experience as readers is heightened enormously with relatively little effort from the author. So then, easy as that is to do, how do we go about not pushing aside the action when our story becomes increasingly more complex?

Find out in Part Two!


'Mantis

Updated 10-30-2020 at 11:52 AM by TickleMantis

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