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TickleMantis

Balancing Plot and Action (part two)

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Ha! I got back in here well under the 8-year-mark.

Before we get back into the topic at our ever-eager hands, I feel like it’s important to point out one thing: At no point during reading these blog posts should anyone take anything I say here as the be-all and end-all of writing rules for tickle fiction. These musings are purely to discuss how I go about my own work. All too often, especially for newer authors, reading anything on writing technique can become intimidating. It can lead to thoughts like “I’m doing it all wrong!” or “I have to write this exact way or my story will suck!” It’s a notoriously easy trap to fall into. For many years now my personal golden rule has been: Write the kind of story I would want to read. Perhaps I’ll expand on that in a later post, but for now just know that if you DO want to write about Jane who woke up tied to her bed, or ANY kind of story, I say more power to you.

Back to balance.

In part one I talked a lot about why a writer might even want to bother with plot, character and detail in the first place. To summarize: It heightens the action to your readers. Assuming that you want to have a story that’s more than pure action, you want a story where your action/tickling sequences have substance, the question then posed was: What do we do when the characters, plot and continuity start to stretch out over numerous installments? Well, there are two things to consider here. The first is Process and the second, which we’re going to focus on here, is The Feel.

A quick note on Process –this is the technical approach that will vary from person to person. It’s keeping notes or files or one of those pin boards with red string lines all over it (maybe I need one of those…). Again, perhaps at a later date I’ll discuss my own process for plotting and tracking the numerous elements of an ongoing series. For now, let’s get back to The Feel.

As we’ve already touched upon, and you are hopefully well aware; there’s no WRONG way to do this. Art is art. It can be critiqued and disliked, even loved or hated but it is –without exception- always subjective. In the end all you can do is know your intent, know the kind of response you’re aiming to elicit, and do your best to achieve that. Everyone you ever know will have a different perspective on who you are, their idea of you, and all of them will be different to the idea you have of yourself. Art is no different, the moment you put a story out there every reader will interpret it their own way. ‘Tis the nature of the beast.

I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit here and use the Tickle Tutor series as our example –it is, after all, the inspiration for these blog posts. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it spoiler free. Now five entries into the series, Tickle Tutor has an ever-growing cast of characters, each with their own personalities, pasts, grudges, desires, goals…the list goes on. On top of this there’s numerous time periods (1 and 2 take place at the same time, 3 takes place shortly after 1 and 2, 4 takes place before 1 and 2, and 5 stretches a roughly ten-year span starting a quarter century before 4) Confused? I know I am, I actually had to go and check before typing that out. During all of this I’m focused on one never-wavering goal: Crafting a scintillating tale of sexy tickling action. The meat between the buns, to use an old if rather suggestive turn of phrase.

In Tickle Tutor, as the name would suggest, tickling above all else is the core focus. It’s for this reason that in scenes that do not directly involve tickling itself, the subject is always there in some fashion. Characters are plotting to tickle someone, or trying to decide how best to avoid it. Tickling is the weight that hangs over all of their heads in one form or another. In passages that are told directly to you by the story –ergo, by the author- the suggestion of tickling is ever-present. Check out these excerpts from the opening to the second installment ‘A Little Guidance’:

“There was just one minor complication, an urge that had boiled and swelled within him, a hidden desire the otherwise charming lad continued to find harder and harder to control as time went on.”

“Turning slightly in his chair, the quietly thoughtful teen stared out the Victorian style window to the well-manicured grasslands beyond.”


In neither sentence is tickling mentioned directly but the associations are there. Two things are going on here; in the first sentence the readers know what our character's hidden desire is. I’m purposely holding back the word ‘tickle’. To the majority of my target audience that word and its variants carry a lot of weight. For folks with a tickling fetish, the ‘T-word’ is often deeply personal. Tickle, tickling, ticklish etc can have an effect on us that it never will on someone without the fetish. With this in mind the idea here is to keep the T-word in my pocket, sometimes for as long as possible, before shooting it like a firework in the reader’s mind. They know it’s coming, they sought out the material, it’s a tickling story. It’s building suspense and, hopefully, one way of keeping your readers on the hook.

Secondly, we have suggestive language. The term ‘well-manicured’ is common when discussing landscaping and in most other contexts is about as interesting as you might find lawn care. In the world of the tickling fetish, among other kinky leanings, ‘well-manicured’ may well conjure up images of long fingernails, red nail polish, and all the associations that come along with it. Now whether it has the desired effect or not is up for debate, but the intent here is to start putting ideas in the reader’s head. Before we even work our way up to the much sought after tickling action it’s presence is being felt from the get go.

These two are ideas –dancing around the T-word and using suggestive language- are just two ways of keeping tickling present in your story without actually having it take place. The Feel, as mentioned above. There’s no guarantee here, but using these two techniques should keep your readers’ minds on tickling. They may not even know it yet, if you’re subtle enough the effect could be entirely subconscious. Then when you do finally get to the action you’re reader isn’t just mentally prepared and excited from a state of suspense, they’re far more engaged than they might have been if you had simply written the non-tickling scenes as vanilla.

Alright, you might say, that’s all well and good and kind of interesting but ‘Mantis, those techniques aren’t really for me. Fair enough, whatever your reasons may be neither of those ideas for balancing your story and action work for you, I get that. Never fear, there’s more ways than one to tickle a helpless redhead! Let's discuss, in part three!


'Mantis
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