Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's Talk About SEX Baby! (Awkward Writing 1)

My next blog series, titled Awkward Writing, is in honor of getting so many new followers from Tessa's Blog Hop: The Life Fantastic and her most recent blogfest. This series will focus on areas of writing that some writers shy away from. Perhaps that is too strong a word, but it's the areas that writers beat themselves up over, deciding to no end if their novel can carry such a theme or scene.

Before we begin, a few announcements:

Any comments made on this series will be thrown into a contest. I will be doing at least 3 posts of the series, possibly more. If you comment on multiple posts within the series, you get multiple entries.

Tessa's Blog Fest: The Life Fantastic is still ongoing and is the perfect way to score more followers, subbers and writerly underlings (I mean friends).

At the end of this week, Donna Hole is hosting her Milestones blogfest. This is been another invaluable tool for me on the cohort-gathering front.

What am I currently doing? Answer: Blogging (of course), enjoying my third cup of coffee and playing Leapfrog Math Missions with my three-year-old cousin.

* * *

So let's talk about sex. We've all made it through sex education in school, the most grueling and unforgiving class any of us was forced to take. Now that we're adults, or most us, what really prevents us from writing in those tender scenes into our manuscripts? What is the hold-up? More often than not, the scene you want to write are not to showcase your future erotica-novel that you're currently querying (WHAT @.@), but it is to show how two characters interact in that next thin line of scene writing: Love. It isn't smut or a porno. It isn't even lust (or maybe it is for those sex-crazed vampires), but it's a display of how your two choice characters have grown on each other.

If you've chosen to add a sex scene, ask yourself if you are first making the right decision. Are your characters who will be involved on the right "level" with each other? Or are you purely doing it to get it done. Let's nudge away the latter.

Never write a sex scene into your manuscript just to have it there. Why put yourself through the trouble explaining a blow-by-blow intimate encounter when you may not really need it at all? I am currently facing that issue and at the level I have been drawing my characters, I'm not sure if my protagonist and his love-interest are there yet. Are your characters there yet? I have added a sensual scene and that might be enough, but only time will really tell.

Don't shoot to impress in the scene. We don't need to see how you are in bed through your character. That may sound awkward, but we want to prevent this at all costs. At no point do you want paragraphs of thick, raw sexual description. No-one really wants to read that and be drawn away from the story and what brought the characters to this point. We want to see an encounter that we can enjoy, love and feel pleasure over. We want to cheer for our hero/heroine when they find that love they've been looking for.

So, there's a lot to consider when you want to write a sex scene. Make it beautiful, short and with descriptors that can creatively describe the most stressful part of writing intimate characters together. Never divulge into dark, sexual crap writing for the sake of just showing you can do it. Your writing will suffer, but more importantly, the fortitude of your plot arc may be thrown off.

Question to the Cohorts: Do you currently have a sex scene written or are considering one? Have you made all the preparations, creatively and mentally, to write intimacy into your manuscript?

I'm very curious for your responses.

Bye for now!

JWP

9 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more: "We don't need to see how you are in bed through your character." That just sounds well - traumatizing.

    I'm currently gearing up for writing one, but it's YA so I'm thinking less is more. I think sex scenes can be like horror scenes; they can be most effective when you don't have a play by play of everything that's going on. Like Psycho. Let the reader's imagination fill in some of the *finer* details.

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  2. So, I firmly believe that less is more in love scenes. I do NOT want a play by play of the mechanical functions of sex. It's just not necessary and it's not engaging to the reader. You want to stimulate the reader? Massage their mind...

    That being said, I have written love scenes. I've never put them in any of my finished pieces though. Frankly, I just have this horrible feeling about my mother one day reading my published book and being disappointed in me for writing sex. So, I just fade to black. :)

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  3. I wholeheartedly agree. I've written four love scenes but they're no more than a page each.

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  4. I've never had any problem with describing sex. I guess that's because I've always seen it as perfectly natural, both in art and real life.

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  5. I think less is better also. I have read a lot of books and I think some authors throw in long sex sceens to fill in empty spaces. I usually skip over the longer ones. Also, who in their right mind would think of getting it on while their lives are in danger? I think sex sceens are very easy to write. I have thought about if I am going to put one in my book and I probably will but it will be short and more emotional than physical in description to me that will be more challenging. There is also that voice in the back of my head that says your mom and kids will be reading this.

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  6. I'm in the less-is-more camp, too, and also find the scenes more emotional than physical. If I wanted a blow-by-blow, I'd pick up a Harlequin, but that's not what I want to write. The characters need to be there, for sure, but that's once again more of the emotional side than the physical.

    Of course, I will be encouraging my mother *not* to read my work if it ever sees the ink of print.

    PS--Underlings, huh? Not so sure about that follow I just made.... j/k

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  7. @RosieC You know my friend just pointed that out, too. I took the wrong synonym from my thesaurus. I really meant it to be a follower, but it came off as one who follows another's command. Haha. So now you're all cohorts instead.

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  8. Does life imitate art or art imitate life. I can never decide. I guess it depends on where you’re from. Either way, the author is the artist and writing is our medium. With that being said, sex in real life isn’t always the culmination of two people’s journey to find one another. So why should it be for your characters? Sex happens for reasons, including and beyond that of love.

    In my opinion-- it isn’t about the play-by-play of the action of sex that the reader wants. It’s the build up to that point. It’s the tension built between two character (or more haha) that is so thick and saucy that the reader can taste it coming off the pages. And every casual touch of skin makes the reader sigh in relief for those two tortured characters that haven’t figured out they belong together. It’s also the lack of tension. The passionate disassociation between two people, who ultimately end up doing the deed out of sheer and utter disgust to themselves, but the act allows them an escape of reality. It isn’t done out of love, but if you’re stuck on an island with giant flesh eating beetles, how would you want to spend your last minutes. Me? Well, I’ll let you decide.

    If the author hasn't built the platform for the characters to do the deed, then maybe they shouldn't.

    I agree that less is more with the actual scene, but what leads up to is should be tension filled. And no—nobody wants to read what you are doing in or not in the bedroom. But inevitably someone who reads your sex scene will think: damn they have a good sex life, or the complete opposite and find it boring. Yikes, that would suck.

    And to answer the question—I have sex scenes in my novel. Mentally prepared, probably never. The first draft made me blush, repeatedly. But by the sixth edit of the scene, it just became another piece of writing.

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  9. I'm with Jodi on this one - its all about the built up. True love is not the only reason to have a sex scene. Vampires are not the only creatures filled with lust.

    I agree with you Justin, about there having to be a reason for the scene; but I know many readers who enjoy the physical, play-by-by. Ever hear of Erotica? We're not talking hard core porn, either.

    When I decided to put sex scenes in my novel, I wouldn't use anatomical terms. I used phrases like: He touched me, and my soul felt aflame with desire and need. It was all about how they felt during sex, without actually showing they had sex.

    I blushed outrageously at that little bit. But over time I discovered there were other readers out there - like me - who did want to know. Every sordid detail? No. But yeah; I want to see sex in the novel, and I write it.

    But how much sex, and the type of descriptions I enjoy vary depending on the genre and content. I read Nicholas Sparks CHOICES, and didn't miss the sex at all. It had plenty of satisfying love scenes, vague as they were. In that type story "they made love all night, and fell asleep fully satisfied as dawn broke over the horizon" is fine.

    But say I'm reading an urban fantasy, and the sexual scene comes up as; "she went to her knees, unzipped his pants, and pleased him in the most intimate way a woman could. Nope. I want the sex.

    Context is the key, as it is in everything.

    Just one Underling's opinion on the dominant Master's on the extreme use of the words "never" and "don't." :)

    Thanks for mentioning my blogfest. I hope you demonstrate an "intimate" scene for us. Oh wait, darn, that's not THIS blogfest goal. :(

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"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.