Warning: If you haven’t read Who is This? or Who Are You?, go read those stories before you read this blog post, as it will contain spoilers for both tales.
If you’ve been following me for awhile you know the controversy about my story, Who is This?, and my struggle with deciding if it should have a sequel or not.
It is one of my favorite stories, by far my most popular and well-received stories, and all fought between two characters that I really fell in love with, Claire and Lauren. Even David has a special place in my heart, douchey though he is.
All of the above makes that story one that I would LOVE to dive back into. If only so that I can be with those characters again. Which, as a writer/for me, just has a pull to it that is quite hard to explain. My characters are like friends I want to go see. And though I can’t visit them in person, I can write about them again, and in that way, feel a connection to them.
But! Cruelly! Ha ha, Who is This? ended in such a melancholy and emotional way that at least a majority of readers and even fellow writers have said a sequel would lessen the impact of the story’s ending. The gravitas of which came from not knowing what came next, or how the characters would deal with it. Making a sequel, in this story’s case, a reprieve from the consequences that the loser faced and the emotions the reader experienced upon finishing the tale.
So, what does all that have to do with Who Are You?
Well, I wanted characters in the same roles as Claire and Lauren that I could write a story and perhaps even sequels about. So I decided to tell a tale similar to Who is This?. One with a wife and a mistress. But where the reader felt bad for the wife in WiT?, I wanted to make the reader feel that same thing for the mistress in WaY?.
Sprite and I discussed and debated how I could do that for a couple days, at least. The original idea being that the wife, Natalie, would be villainous and cruel, not only to Olivia but to Jacob. But Sprite rightly pointed out that such a decision would rob the story of the melancholy feel WiT? had, and give it more of a Parent-Teacher Confluence feel, where there is a protagonist, and an antagonist. It was that point that really pushed me into deciding that the story should be, more than a wife vs. mistress tale, it should play with the same emotions and elements that WiT? played upon.
With that goal, I had to make both Natalie and Olivia seem likeable and their points of view understandable. I could have done that by providing the reader arguments, but I felt it was more natural and exciting to have the women present their arguments. Not to the reader but to each other, which resulted in my favorite scene in the whole story, and a tension and a import that I believe carried through to the end.
Now, once the two women agreed to fight, I wanted to give the battle the same feeling as WiT?, in that, the strikes and moves were not of a classic catfight nature. Some were, for sure — like hairpulling and floor-rolling. But just like Who is This? had wild strikes and slaps that landed with a heavy force, this story had strangles and chokes. Not as momentary, transitional moves, but with the characters inflicting long, draining, desperate attempts to end the fight in any way that they could.
All of which I meant to show the reader how much both wife and mistress wanted Jacob, who, just as a easter egg, was off with David, the male being fought over in WiT?.
About a quarter way into the tale, I came up with a way to take Natalie, the cheated-on wife, from being the victim to being something a little less deserving of pity. Why? Because, I wanted the reader, by the end, to be on Olivia’s side. Now, whether or not I accomplished that, the ending to me, even before it was written was super hot. So much so that it was hard not to just jump straight to the end to write it.
But I resisted that urge and kept going, and after a long, cruel, tension-fused battled got to the moment when Olivia would show the reader exactly how much she loved Jacob. How she would do anything, including subjugate herself to Natalie, to remain in his life.
Now, I am sure a lot of people reading the tale expected Natalie to immediately rebuff the idea, but instead I had her listen. Listen and let Olivia kiss her as she offered herself and pleasure in trade for mercy. From at least those catfight fans I have spoken to, that moment made them uneasy. Not that they hated how it was written, but the thought that I might take a super intense story with two rivals with so much to lose, and then turn them into lesbian lovers.
I can absolutely see why that thought was in their heads, as I am oft an absolute softy puddle of lust. But I laid hints that Natalie might not be as willing as Olivia believed her to be. And gave Natalie a reason to need Olivia to give her more. All of which was picked up on, and gave those nervous readers just enough to keep them from closing the story tab in disgust. That decision to stay then worked out beautifully, as those readers who were begging Natalie to resist and refuse got exactly what they wanted in a very cruel and deliciously malevolent way.
Now, I started this post by saying that I wanted characters who I could return to, unlike Lauren and Claire, and so you might be asking. Will I? Are Natalie and Olivia destined to tangle again?
I don’t know.
Often after stories, I feel spent on characters, worlds, and conflicts. The desire to write more not returning until after months have passed and positive feedback has rolled in. But while I let my Natalie and Olivia energies recover, what do you all think?