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Scottish
02-27-2010, 02:15 AM
That is a question I've already answered for myself. Now, I want to know what the people here think.

The question is this:
When writing, do you feel you should have a sex scene?

For me, the answer is no. I don't write romance, and if there was an inter-character relationship, I would make it clear they got-jiggy-with-it without actually having to go through the scene. I write horror, not slasher-flicks, so pointless humping isn't my style.
I can see where it might be acceptable, like, for example, two characters who've anticipated the moment for some length of time, or something -- I don't really know. I don't write chick-lit or erotica.

So anyway, what do you guys have to say? To fuck, or not to fuck?

DeleyanLee
02-27-2010, 02:19 AM
If a sex scene forwards the story in the way I want it to be forwarded, then I'll write a sex scene. *shrug*

Now, how *graphic* that sex scene will be will depend on the tone of the book and what will fit it. But a sex scene doesn't have to be that graphic to be effective.

Claudia Gray
02-27-2010, 02:21 AM
There is no one answer to this. Some stories should contain sex. Some shouldn't. Some sex scenes should be graphic. Others should be more discreet. Whatever serves the particular story is the right choice.

Parametric
02-27-2010, 02:26 AM
I'd go with option one. Sex scenes illustrate character, drive plot and provide compelling reading.

dpaterso
02-27-2010, 02:28 AM
There's an interesting thread in Share Your Work (password = vista) that may be worth a read:
Re: How to write sex scenes (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136357)

-Derek

Millicent M'Lady
02-27-2010, 02:29 AM
I wrote my first one recently. Shockingly, smut peddler that I am conversationally, it made me hella uncomfortable. But that's what the story called for, IMO, and dagnabbit, that's what it was getting. :D

mscelina
02-27-2010, 02:30 AM
Regardless of whether I'm writing epic fantasy or erotica, my characters never have to decide whether or not they want to fuck. Fucking is commonplace. I write about the extraordinary.

Maxinquaye
02-27-2010, 02:30 AM
I've never been in a situation where I've had to write an explicit sex scene. If I had, in my previous drafts, it would have been gratuitous and would have dragged the story to a halt while the characters did the naughty.

I have written a masturbation scene, but that was about dancing, and not rubbing organs. :)

Having said that, I'll agree with what the others have said: if the story requires a sex scene, it should be in the book. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be in the book.

Maryn
02-27-2010, 02:32 AM
I wrote my first one recently. Shockingly, smut peddler that I am conversationally, it made me hella uncomfortable. But that's what the story called for, IMO, and dagnabbit, that's what it was getting. :DAm I the only person who thinks it's just adorable that she can write a sex scene but says dagnabbit rather than something stronger? Probably not.

Maryn, grinning

Shadow_Ferret
02-27-2010, 02:32 AM
There's some sex magic in mine, which is different from sex that is magic.

backslashbaby
02-27-2010, 02:32 AM
I'm wondering this at this moment, too. Aaack :) But it depends on story, not what your grandmother would think. Be true to what you are writing.

My story is supposed to be relatable and funny, given extremely strange circumstances. I think my MC would explore sex if she gets a minute to ponder that sort of thing. The scene is very funny :) We'll see if it makes the cut!

Linda Adams
02-27-2010, 02:42 AM
There is no one answer to this. Some stories should contain sex. Some shouldn't. Some sex scenes should be graphic. Others should be more discreet. Whatever serves the particular story is the right choice.

The same goes for writers. It's not something I would ever put in a book. It just isn't me.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 02:52 AM
I can't imagine not putting in a sex scene.

Mr Flibble
02-27-2010, 03:02 AM
Depends on the story. I've written sweet romance and I've written erotic romance ( which I wrote to see if I could write a convincing sex scene. Worked out quite well, cos I sold it :D). One I'm writing now is somewhere between the two, but the smexeh time is part of the story / character development so it has to be there but it's not particularly graphic, because it doesn't need to be for the story. I've got a couple of other stories in mind where there will be none ( well, probably. My characters have a way f being rebellious and telling me who they want to pork, but hey)

If it serves the story, don't shy away from it. It it doesn't serve the story, don't put it in. Simples.

Maxinquaye
02-27-2010, 03:06 AM
Maybe I should put in sex scenes. The moral outrage from The Sun should help my sales pretty good.

14-15 year olds doing the naughty.

Or it's old hat, and people will just yawn, and I get to realize that I'm an old far behind the times and the sociatal mores...

fadeaccompli
02-27-2010, 04:14 AM
It's like asking if a book should include a scene with a phone conversation. Or standing in line at the bank. Or a swordfight. Or dangling from the rain-slicked precipice of darkness.

If it's necessary to the plot, character development, setting construction, theme, or other portions of the book, of course it should be in there.

If it's not necessary, of course it shouldn't be.

I have a very hard time picturing a book in some genres (early readers! pet care guides!) where a sex scene would be necessary, but that doesn't say anything about sex scenes. Just genre. I'd have a hard time picturing a Regency romance in which a UNIX coding scene was necessary either.

Polenth
02-27-2010, 04:39 AM
I find sex scenes boring, so I'd fade to black. They only become interesting to me if they're really badly written, but that's for all the wrong reasons.

Jamesaritchie
02-27-2010, 04:44 AM
I don't write sex scenes, I write love scenes. If there's anything funnier on earth than the sex scene in the average novel, I haven't found it.

But a sex scene is like any other scene. If you put it in because you think readers expect it, you probably won't sell the novel.

thothguard51
02-27-2010, 04:57 AM
I learned from my beta readers that I was cheating - because I did not include a sex scene. It is understood that my MC is a ladies man. Ladies just seem to throw themselves at him and the more beautiful they are, the harder it is for him to resist. All this is shown through the conversations, actions, or thoughts, of others and this pissed my readers off.

So I added a chapter early that showed my MC in action. He had just suffered a humiliating slap by the woman he is interested in. They both walk off in opposite direction and another woman pursues him, figuring this is her chance. He takes her up on her offer and during the encounter, he suffers guilt pangs because he knows this is wrong, even if she is willing. He apologizes and leaves before finishing the dirty need, though they were very close.

My beta readers said the scene was perfect. Showed he was a ladies man with morals. They knew I could write a sex scene, or imply one where needed because all my antagonist are having sex and they don't care who, how, or when they get it, so long as they get. They knew this difference showed the moral and immoral differences in my characters, but they wanted to see my MC as I portrayed him...

Long and short, I did not think I had to show my MC in action, but my beta readers made me realize I was cheating not just the readers, but my characters and the story as well. If that makes sense...

Ken
02-27-2010, 05:01 AM
... judging by what you've said, and where you seem to be coming from, I'd say no: don't include the scene. You've got to do what feels right, and I'm judging that it doesn't, to you.

Zoombie
02-27-2010, 05:04 AM
Sex is awesome, so you should do it as often and as safely as possible.

...

Wait, we're talking about writing? Well, uh, write what your characters would do.

If you follow this credo, you can not go too far wrong. Its like The 1st commandment: Don't Be A Dick.

Simple enough.

Mr. Anonymous
02-27-2010, 05:14 AM
Right now I'm writing a book which is heavily based around the relationship between two characters (essentially a love story.)

However, I'm resisting putting in any sex and am spending very little time on kissing, etc. I think at its heart, a relationship is a friendship, and that's what I want to get across. We have sex in real life, true, and it's an intimate, powerful experience. But I don't like that we often get sex conflated with love. I think if it's appropriate for your characters and the novel you're writing, have it in, but I also resist the notion that in order to write a romance/love story you must write sex into it.

Jamesaritchie
02-27-2010, 05:18 AM
I learned from my beta readers that I was cheating - because I did not include a sex scene. It is understood that my MC is a ladies man. Ladies just seem to throw themselves at him and the more beautiful they are, the harder it is for him to resist. All this is shown through the conversations, actions, or thoughts, of others and this pissed my readers off.

So I added a chapter early that showed my MC in action. He had just suffered a humiliating slap by the woman he is interested in. They both walk off in opposite direction and another woman pursues him, figuring this is her chance. He takes her up on her offer and during the encounter, he suffers guilt pangs because he knows this is wrong, even if she is willing. He apologizes and leaves before finishing the dirty need, though they were very close.

My beta readers said the scene was perfect. Showed he was a ladies man with morals. They knew I could write a sex scene, or imply one where needed because all my antagonist are having sex and they don't care who, how, or when they get it, so long as they get. They knew this difference showed the moral and immoral differences in my characters, but they wanted to see my MC as I portrayed him...

Long and short, I did not think I had to show my MC in action, but my beta readers made me realize I was cheating not just the readers, but my characters and the story as well. If that makes sense...


Now you know why I never, ever, under any crcumstances, use beta readers.

thothguard51
02-27-2010, 06:22 AM
James,

I totally understand what you mean, but these beta's are very good, and all have published work, even if not best sellers.

I did not add the scene because they said I should, but because I thought on it and realized they had a point. I was cheating my readers of the knowledge I was proclaiming my character as...a ladies man.

After writing the scene, I had to admit, I liked it, and felt it added character to my MC. By introducing this scene early, I also did not have to deal with this subject with him again because the circumstances changed.

I really don't blame you about beta readers, as I have had some stinkers...

NeuroFizz
02-27-2010, 06:28 AM
If a writer thinks a love scene is "fucking" or "pointless humping," then it's best for that person to avoid such scenes. Interpersonal intimacy is one of the most powerful of emotional situations two people can share, and if approached in that way, it can add incredibly to characterization and story construction. And, it can find its way into any genre, including non-slasher horror. But it has to be a natural event in the progression of the story.

An intense love scene can be written without describing any of the mechanics of the coupling, but it can convey that intensity through the other actions and reactions of the characters. The potential here for showing way more than just the rubbing-event is huge.

And I agree with James. When a writer goes to great lengths to describe the mechanics of sex, the depiction of the friction frequently only serves to ignite the flames of hilarity.

If we write a scene from the character's penis or vagina, we will have trouble escaping from the monotony of the rhythmicity. If we write the scene from a character's brain, we can take the scene anywhere.

Libbie
02-27-2010, 12:31 PM
So anyway, what do you guys have to say? To fuck, or not to fuck?

To fuck.

Sex is part of life. A huge part of life. We are alive, and so sex is like maybe 90% of what we think about and try to do. It changes characters and plots. It's ginormous.

You can write sex without protracted, overly described play-by-plays. And you can put detailed sex into a book or story without it being a romance. (Romance has specific story tropes that make it romance -- sex is not a necessary element in romance fiction, believe it or not. A happy ending is.)

Personally, I write the sex if it's important to my POV character, although my sex scenes are considerably tamer than those written by my erotica-writing pals. And I am not put off by reading sex. I find nothing offensive about human sexuality in its various forms, and I understand that it is usually a significant part of a person's (and thus a character's) life. Sex is part of truth-telling. Fiction is truthin' by way of fibbin'.

Libbie
02-27-2010, 12:35 PM
Interpersonal intimacy is one of the most powerful of emotional situations two people can share, and if approached in that way, it can add incredibly to characterization and story construction.

Rollin' the slick bone just for the sake of it is also pretty awesome.

Just sayin'.

Xelebes
02-27-2010, 01:10 PM
I tend to avoid sex scenes because the only sex I know is awkward sex. I might have the opportunity to put that in one of m plots but - I still have yet to come across it.

Emily Winslow
02-27-2010, 02:20 PM
I have a very hard time picturing a book in some genres (early readers! pet care guides!) where a sex scene would be necessary, but that doesn't say anything about sex scenes. Just genre. I'd have a hard time picturing a Regency romance in which a UNIX coding scene was necessary either.

*giggle* well put!

You know what I hate? Do you really want to know? I HATE the phrase "sex scene." It seems to be used exclusively to refer to an unnecessary scene meant only to titillate. OF COURSE you shouldn't include unnecessary scenes, to titillate or otherwise. (Unless titillation is part of the purpose of your genre in which case, well...it's not unnecessary.)

But not every scene that has sex in it is a "sex scene," not in those terms. So...if you're asking if you should shoehorn in an unnecessary scene for titillation purposes only, then no.

But if you mean, should I include this absolutely necessary scene of interaction between two important characters that happens to have a sexual aspect? Well, yeah. Of course.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 02:28 PM
I write sex scenes because I'm good at it. If there's a better reason, I can't think of it. I want to be J.K. Foulings :D

NeuroFizz
02-27-2010, 04:32 PM
I write sex scenes because I'm good at it.
You're good at writing sex scenes or good at sex scenes?

Set-up of the day, Wayne--I teed it up, now grip and rip...

thethinker42
02-27-2010, 05:28 PM
So anyway, what do you guys have to say? To fuck, or not to fuck?

Depends on the story. I write erotica, so naturally my books have a lot of sex in them, but every scene has a purpose beyond just titillating the reader. My characters have used sex to relieve tension, make love, get revenge, manipulate, make or break a relationship, you name it. Sex can serve those purposes in a non-erotica story as well.

As far as I'm concerned, sex scenes are no different than any other scene. Either they move the story forward or they don't. If they don't, then they have no business being in the story. I don't include them for the sake of including them, nor do I exclude them for the same reason. If the story calls for a sex scene, then the characters have sex.

seun
02-27-2010, 06:00 PM
As always (and as has been said), it all depends on the story. Some stories call for whips and handuffs and bodily fluids splatting on peoples' faces. Others are all about hugging and tenderness and lurrrve. And others don't need them at all. I've only written a few saucy scenes simply because my stories don't often call for them. When they do, however, I write what's needed.

There's no one answer. It should all be for the good of the story.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 06:04 PM
You're good at writing sex scenes or good at sex scenes?

Set-up of the day, Wayne--I teed it up, now grip and rip...
Its a memoir, so both :D

I didn't know I was good at it until my agent told me to throw some more sex in. He said a lot of things I didn't understand, but character dynamic I got.

And to be more clear, my sex scenes are more the romantic petting, dingy hotel room kind of stuff. If you read 1,000 kisses deep by Leonard Cohen, he explains it well.

scarletpeaches
02-27-2010, 07:45 PM
I don't write sex scenes, I write love scenes. If there's anything funnier on earth than the sex scene in the average novel, I haven't found it.You're not looking very far then.

I write sex scenes. The love is incidental. My characters don't have to love each other to play hide the sausage. In fact it makes it more interesting that way.

Lovers who are in love are all alike. Those who are not are all interesting in their own way (with apologies to Tolstoy).

Ms Hollands
02-27-2010, 08:16 PM
I've so far avoided writing sex scenes for lots of reasons:

- I don't think I could write a decent one just yet (maybe when I have more confidence as a writer of fiction)
- I've rarely come across a novel where I've enjoyed reading the sex scene. I'm probably just a prude.

Besides, I just finished a book called Gypsy (by Lesley....forgotten surname) and the boy characters keep 'flickering' their tongues inside the main character's mouth. I just see a moth with fast-flapping wings, or a light bulb flickering and picturing a tongue doing that really put me off the scenes. I'd want more than a bloody flicker in a kiss or nothing at all.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 08:16 PM
I've read sex scenes in novels that ...well, you know :D

It has to be well written, or I'll throw the book across the room, and hopefully that half of the room will be on fire

Ken
02-27-2010, 08:53 PM
... the sex scenes in the half-dozen erotic novels I read some years back were grand. They absolutely belonged there and suited the story perfectly. If they'd been left out or just suggested I'd have been disappointed. With regular novels, though, this isn't the case. The sex rarely seems necessary, when it is drawn out and put on parade. That may be just me, though. Neither am I any connoisseur of contemporary fiction. So tabulate this post as a 2-cent-er ;-)

Libbie
02-27-2010, 09:00 PM
Besides, I just finished a book called Gypsy (by Lesley....forgotten surname) and the boy characters keep 'flickering' their tongues inside the main character's mouth. I just see a moth with fast-flapping wings, or a light bulb flickering and picturing a tongue doing that really put me off the scenes. I'd want more than a bloody flicker in a kiss or nothing at all.

You ever been kissed by a teen-age boy?* That's about what it's like.






*Libbie was kissed by teen-age boys only when she herself was also a teen-ager.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 09:40 PM
Me too :D

ishtar'sgate
02-27-2010, 09:45 PM
When writing, do you feel you should have a sex scene?

I don't think it's necessary, any more than writing a bathroom scene is necessary. Romance is in that kind of cat-and-mouse chase before getting together and afterward it is in the simple things that arise out of a truly loving relationship. As a writer, there is far more to explore in those areas than in the act of sex. I find it superfluous in my own writing and skip over those scenes if they show up in any books I read.

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 10:01 PM
I write sex scenes in for one reason. I want the reader to feel something. I get a lot of LOLs and comments from beta readers. I love to make people laugh. I want that physical, emotional response from them

The thing that scared the hell out of me about sharing sex scenes, is that I was afraid they wouldn't evoke a response. When people here repped and PM'd me about something I did share, and when my agent asked me to put more sex in my book, That was the high I was looking for all my life.

Even in a novel, I find good sex scenes that don't advance the plot great, because.....well, just read my sig.

scarletpeaches
02-27-2010, 10:08 PM
I don't think it's necessary, any more than writing a bathroom scene is necessary. Romance is in that kind of cat-and-mouse chase before getting together and afterward it is in the simple things that arise out of a truly loving relationship. As a writer, there is far more to explore in those areas than in the act of sex. I find it superfluous in my own writing and skip over those scenes if they show up in any books I read.Um...no. Just, no. Maybe this applies to you but there are writers out there who find something new and fresh to explore in a relationship on paper, which is best expressed through writing a sex scene. But, if you skip over those scenes, my books are probably best avoided when they're published, that is.

kuwisdelu
02-27-2010, 10:10 PM
You ever been kissed by a teen-age boy?* That's about what it's like.

Not all of them! ;)


I don't think it's necessary, any more than writing a bathroom scene is necessary. Romance is in that kind of cat-and-mouse chase before getting together and afterward it is in the simple things that arise out of a truly loving relationship. As a writer, there is far more to explore in those areas than in the act of sex. I find it superfluous in my own writing and skip over those scenes if they show up in any books I read.

Of course there's more to explore, but sex is pretty damn important. Ignoring the importance of sex as part of a relationship and as part of the human experience is naive. No, it's not always necessary to portray, but sometimes it absolutely is.

*hides bathroom scene in current novel*

Wayne K
02-27-2010, 10:17 PM
Um...no. Just, no. Maybe this applies to you but there are writers out there who find something new and fresh to explore in a relationship on paper, which is best expressed through writing a sex scene. But, if you skip over those scenes, my books are probably best avoided when they're published, that is.
If yours are best avoided, mine would be best burned

icerose
02-27-2010, 10:33 PM
When I first started writing I would have said absolutely not. Imagine my surprise when one slipped into my own WIP and as hard as I tried I couldn't write it any other way. It isn't a true sex scene though, it's really quite horrific, but it's not a rape either, it's part of a destruction of wills my one character experiences. It's actually a him too that it happens to. It isn't graphic but it's certainly not anything I'd want to ever experience. Though I suppose it could be considered a rape, it's that or another beating, so he chose that. Definitely something to think about. If you don't think it's needed or doesn't add to the story, then definitely leave it out. I despise gratuity whether it's swearing, sex, nudity, violence, blood and guts, or adverbs...well I'm working on the adverbs. ;)

Selah March
02-27-2010, 10:58 PM
I don't think it's necessary, any more than writing a bathroom scene is necessary. Romance is in that kind of cat-and-mouse chase before getting together and afterward it is in the simple things that arise out of a truly loving relationship. As a writer, there is far more to explore in those areas than in the act of sex. I find it superfluous in my own writing and skip over those scenes if they show up in any books I read.

For you, romance may be everything that happens outside the bedroom. For others, it may include what happens in the bedroom...or in the shower...on the kitchen table...the big leather chair in the den...the backseat of the vehicle of your choice...

There is a very large market for romance that includes well written sex scenes. By well written, I mean sex scenes that reveal character, deepen or resolve conflict, or otherwise enhance story. If I removed the sex scenes from my own books, I'd have to insert other scenes to make up the difference because something important would be lost. Ergo, the sex scenes are necessary.

And in erotica, the story is ABOUT the sex. Ergo, necessary.

I imagine other books in other genres could use sex scenes to advance plot or sharpen characterization, as well. Why not? It's just another tool in the tool box. In fact, I don't see why a bathroom scene couldn't be used to the same effect.

Also...you equate sex with the act of elimination? Really?

ishtar'sgate
02-28-2010, 01:04 AM
Also...you equate sex with the act of elimination? Really?
Obviously our viewpoints are very different. Sex, to me, is sexual intercourse. Period. Lovemaking includes sexual intercourse but I'd rather hint at it and let the reader imagine the actual act. Sexual intercourse can be quite divorced from lovemaking and often is. None of us are going to feel quite the same about including it in our fiction and we all write for a different audience. It's simply personal preference and opinion. The question was whether or not we'd include sex scenes. I wouldn't.

LuckyH
02-28-2010, 01:16 AM
A late comment in more ways than one. Iím happy to read novels which are totally sexless, if the subject is so profound that sex doesnít matter. They are few and far between, and even the western bible doesnít qualify.

However, Iím on the side of sex being a necessary part of life, I dream it, I write it, I feel faint when confronted with flapping suspender belts and red-painted lips, and if the day comes when a shapely bum does not raise my blood pressure, Iíll know that Iím dead.

Libbie
02-28-2010, 01:17 AM
Not all of them! ;)


I won't destroy your beautiful delusion.

Ken
02-28-2010, 01:21 AM
Also...you equate sex with the act of elimination? Really?

... Ishtar isn't equating one with the other. He's just saying that one shouldn't be mentioned any more than the other should in a novel. They're private matters that should be kept personal is his belief, I'm guessing, which isn't so uncommon a view. Several decades back almost everyone felt that way, judging by the television shows and whatnot of the time.

As testified above, I'm really not engaged with contemporary fiction. So my own opinions on the matter of whether to include or not to include really don't figure much and aren't worth mentioning. It is interesting to me to see the alternate takes on this heated topic, some of which are being well argued here, whether one agrees or disagrees.

Polenth
02-28-2010, 04:19 AM
It is interesting to me to see the alternate takes on this heated topic, some of which are being well argued here, whether one agrees or disagrees.

From my point of view, I don't really see why it has to be a heated subject. I find sex scenes dull. Other people won't read books with robots. It's all the same to me. Just a preference in what's entertaining to read and what isn't.

The whole other thing about judging people for either including sex or not including it... I don't get why people do that. I don't see why it's hard to accept that people like to read different stuff, without implying there's something inferior/dishonest/nasty in that choice.

Noah Body
02-28-2010, 04:20 AM
I'm just happy that I wrote a sex scene that made Derek, of all people, feel dirty.

With that crowning victory, I think that future scribblings will probably not progress beyond the R rating. Or, at the very least, depict less flying DNA.

Ken
02-28-2010, 05:01 AM
From my point of view, I don't really see why it has to be a heated subject. I find sex scenes dull. Other people won't read books with robots. It's all the same to me. Just a preference in what's entertaining to read and what isn't.

The whole other thing about judging people for either including sex or not including it... I don't get why people do that. I don't see why it's hard to accept that people like to read different stuff, without implying there's something inferior/dishonest/nasty in that choice.

... yep; would have to agree. To each their own, both as readers and writers. We wouldn't want others telling us how to write, so we should think very long and hard before even suggesting that others write in some particular way. // Actually I meant this is a heated debate, here, rather than that sex scenes themselves are heated. But now that the it's been brought up, I think they can be at times if written well and are a real and integral part of a story. // So we differ in opinion, some, though not so much that we'll be needing to employ seconds and exchanging cards ;-)

vanillamilkshake
02-28-2010, 07:17 AM
oh. i thought you were requesting.

JayG
02-28-2010, 07:47 AM
Jennie Crusie espouses and interesting view. Any scene must have tension, and serve to move the plot forward. Given that, if everything goes well, itís just sex, and not worth including. But if, as in what Nick mentioned, things go wrong, itís interesting, and supplies the uncertainty and tension the reader feeds on. Her novel, Welcome to Temptation is a perfect illustration of that philosophy.

I can see an exception in that rule, if the act of sex is an epiphany for one or both of the characters, and will change the direction of their lives itís also worth including. But sex for sexís sake? Thatís erotica, where the sex is the purpose/focus of the piece.

For one thing, people vary so much in expectation and what they think desireable that you will repel one reader for being too graphic while another calls it kindergarten sex, making it a hard line to walk in a genre novel.

My personal solution is to focus on emotion rather than plumbing.

Wayne K
02-28-2010, 07:56 AM
Meh, I write it well and anyone who is going to be offended by a sex scene will have burned my book way before that anyway.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-28-2010, 10:09 AM
If whatever project I'm working on includes characters that are sexually attracted to one another, then they'll have themselves a sex scene. Probably. That's about all there is to it. How that scene is executed will depend on my target audience.

SPMiller
02-28-2010, 10:14 AM
[...] if the story requires a sex scene, it should be in the book. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be in the book.I'd like to repeat this for great justice.

With the caveat that erotica can have plot-irrelevant sex. That's the point.

Libbie
02-28-2010, 10:34 AM
Or, at the very least, depict less flying DNA.


depict less flying DNA.


less flying DNA.


less flying DNA.


less flying DNA.


less flying DNA.


less flying DNA.


flying DNA.

TENSO.

Cranky
02-28-2010, 12:52 PM
Jennie Crusie espouses and interesting view. Any scene must have tension, and serve to move the plot forward. Given that, if everything goes well, it’s just sex, and not worth including. But if, as in what Nick mentioned, things go wrong, it’s interesting, and supplies the uncertainty and tension the reader feeds on. Her novel, Welcome to Temptation is a perfect illustration of that philosophy.

I can see an exception in that rule, if the act of sex is an epiphany for one or both of the characters, and will change the direction of their lives it’s also worth including. But sex for sex’s sake? That’s erotica, where the sex is the purpose/focus of the piece.

For one thing, people vary so much in expectation and what they think desireable that you will repel one reader for being too graphic while another calls it kindergarten sex, making it a hard line to walk in a genre novel.

My personal solution is to focus on emotion rather than plumbing.

Oiy, "if all goes well, it's just sex"? That makes me haz a sad. :(

Anyhoo, out of all the stories I've written, I've only managed one sex scene. It was quite graphic (I seem to go all the way with sex and violence -- it's never just a little), and I was a bit embarrassed when I was finished. I've never let anyone read it, lol. But I'm lucky, in that most of the stories I've written thus far haven't required a sex scene. I have a couple in the hopper that will, and I'll just have to bite the bullet and do it.

Also, to me, good sex means some tension. Tension doesn't always have to be bad tension, imo. Anyone's who has ever been keyed up with excitement over something is feeling tension, again, imo. Sex better get you excited, or it's not worth having or writing about, I'll grant you that. :D

And now that I've been all TMI all over the place, I'll wrap up by saying that if it's necessary, I'll write it. I won't be happy about it, and if there's a way to reasonably fade to black, I'll do it. But if I must, I'll write the best damned sex I can. Everyone's gonna have a good time, by golly!

dpaterso
02-28-2010, 01:03 PM
I'm just happy that I wrote a sex scene that made Derek, of all people, feel dirty.
HA!

...If memory serves, not so much dirty as inadequate.

-Derek

bettielee
02-28-2010, 01:24 PM
I do not write erotica or romance, but I've had my fair share of love scenes. Only one full on explicit sex scene because the buildup and the climax... had an important... uh... clue to what was going on with one character. Wasn't sure how to phrase that, sorry. Regardless, it was literally a necessary plot point.

I love the buildup to the sex, the sweet arousal part... and then the fade away and leave the bumping and humping a mystery. I write those scenes because that is generally what I like to read and what I usually find within my genre.

Humans are sexual beings, after all, so I expect my characters to be.

scarletpeaches
02-28-2010, 01:39 PM
I'd like to repeat this for great justice.

With the caveat that erotica can have plot-irrelevant sex. That's the point.You're not an erotica writer, are you?

Ruv Draba
02-28-2010, 03:38 PM
Keep any sex down to a paragraph I reckon, unless you're writing porn for its own sake, or have something thematic to say.

Lots of characters are motivated by sex, but most times the best drama is before or after the sex. Sex-writing is mood-writing, like writing landscapes or weather. Unless you have some interesting theme woven through or readers are just in it for the titillation, a little goes a very long way.

scarletpeaches
02-28-2010, 05:11 PM
None of us are using 'erotica' and 'porn' interchangeably are we?

Good. Because there is a difference.

And a paragraph? Christ on a bike; I've written 15,000-word sex scenes before. And no, not all specifically in erotica.

Sophia
02-28-2010, 05:12 PM
I agree with what many have posted, about writing sex if it fits the story. I don't think I've actually read any examples of characters having sex for a non-story reason. It always seemed to me to fit the story, so I'm not sure how common it is for a writer to have a 'gratuitous sex scene', whether intentional or not.

I think writing about sex is different from writing about someone going to the bathroom in terms of how easy the decision should be to write about it, because it can be so tied up with emotion and experiences that are difficult to detach from. I don't think it is always helpful to say how fantastic and integral to being human sex is, because sometimes it can sound similar to stating that this what is normal, and you must write characters with that in mind. If someone doesn't feel that way, then it can feel a bit exclusionary. I don't think you can tell people that this is how sex is and this is how they should feel about it, because it's so personal and complicated, much more so than going to the bathroom, say. The statement about writing it if it fits the story still goes, but personal feelings on the matter will have an effect on the final decision. It's something each writer has to work out for themselves, I think.

scarletpeaches
02-28-2010, 05:20 PM
Further to my above post...
Lots of characters are motivated by sex, but most times the best drama is before or after the sex.So, uh...avoid writing about the very thing which motivates them? I wonder if we'd be having this discussion about violence or money.

For as long as I've got a brass neck and a pair of clanging girlballs, I'll tackle sex head-on.

On the page, I mean, people - on the page!
Sex-writing is mood-writing, like writing landscapes or weather.Or dialogue. Or setting. Or characterisation. Or theme. Or hey...pretty much anything else in a novel.
Unless you have some interesting theme woven through or readers are just in it for the titillation, a little goes a very long way.O RLY.

Sometimes sex is the story. If people don't want to write it or read about it, fair do's, I can't change their mind. But this oogyness about writing about sex, making love, fucking, carnal knowledge, intimacy - and they are all different - is one of the best ways of showing what a character truly is. Why? Because when we're naked and inside someone, or when they are inside us, we are at our most vulnerable. We're open, exposed, and our truest selves.

Avoiding getting inside my characters' minds by getting inside their underwear is not something I'll ever indulge in. I find censorship more offensive than any human body (except perhaps Wayne K's when he's wearing the ballet tutu) and yes, it is a form of censorship or at the very least limitation to suggest a sex scene should be 'this long and no more'.

As for titillation - what? What is it with people thinking sex is about that? Have people never heard of lust, love, acquisitiveness, challenge, passion, anger, betrayal, revenge?

Yes, there are other ways to express such. I write about those too. But I don't avoid sex just because so many people have a problem with it. It's a fact of life. Deal with it.

thethinker42
02-28-2010, 05:22 PM
With the caveat that erotica can have plot-irrelevant sex. That's the point.

I disagree. A lot of erotica does have plot-irrelevant sex, just like a lot of romance, thrillers, horror stories, etc., that I've read. That doesn't mean it *should*.

One of my books has 28 sex scenes in it. (Yes, it's erotica) Every last one of them is relevant to the plot, because the main character's sexual exploration *is* the plot. Removing even one would take something away from the story. Similarly, it's not unusual for me to remove sex scenes from my erotic romances if they are irrelevant or otherwise unnecessary.

Erotica can have plot-irrelevant sex...but I hardly think that's the point of erotica. Readers like a story to go along with it, and if the e-mails I've been getting from them are any indication, many of them don't want random gratuitous sex scenes. Just because a lot of erotica writers have gotten away with it doesn't mean it's how it should be.


Keep any sex down to a paragraph I reckon, unless you're writing porn for its own sake, or have something thematic to say.

Lots of characters are motivated by sex, but most times the best drama is before or after the sex. Sex-writing is mood-writing, like writing landscapes or weather. Unless you have some interesting theme woven through or readers are just in it for the titillation, a little goes a very long way.

I'm not even sure where to start with this.

Sex-writing is no different than any other writing. It can certainly be mood-writing, atmospheric, or something like landscapes/weather/what have you. It can also be significant to a relationship between characters. It can have a profound impact on one, two, three, or however many characters. Much of that happens during the sex, not before or after. Or the effects may not be realized until after, but in the interest of showing not telling, it makes more sense to show the reader what happened so they understand why a character thought/felt/behaved/etc after the fact. Sometimes the "during" is relevant. Sometimes it's not. The same can be said for pretty much any kind of scene.

I'm not trying to say that every writer should write graphic sex, that every reader should enjoy it, or that every book should contain it. What bothers me is the dismissal of sex scenes as somehow "less than" other scenes. Not every book needs a scene with a character frosting a cake, but I'm not going to make the off-the-cuff decision that all cake-frosting scenes are just fluff, just for whetting the reader's appetite for cake, should be kept to a minimum length, or whatever.

Sex scenes should be as graphic, lengthy, and frequent as the story requires. No more, no less. Maybe I'm just touchy about this because I'm an erotica writer, so my books have a disproportionately high number of "those scenes" when compared to other books. What bothers me is seeing writers openly discourage other writers from writing sex scenes (or graphic sex, or a lot of sex, or whatever) as if they are the redheaded stepchild of scenes.

You don't have to write them. You don't have to read them. But they can be just as relevant, poignant, emotional, profound, infuriating, tear-jerking, loving, cathartic, funny, or disturbing as any other scene.

scarletpeaches
02-28-2010, 05:27 PM
What bothers me is seeing writers openly discourage other writers from writing sex scenes (or graphic sex, or a lot of sex, or whatever) as if they are the redheaded stepchild of scenes.

You don't have to write them. You don't have to read them. But they can be just as relevant, poignant, emotional, profound, infuriating, tear-jerking, loving, cathartic, funny, or disturbing as any other scene.Yup. This is at the heart of it for me.

Sure, sure, we have people saying "I won't write a sex scene," and to me that's...strange. I mean, if your story doesn't call for it, then fair enough. but to dismiss it out of hand as if it were, like Lori said, 'less than'? As if we as writers are 'above all that'? (And yes, I have encountered such an allegation on multiple occasions before. I said occasions).

There seems to be a "You can't make me!" attitude which always arises in these discussions and while no-one is trying to make someone write something they're uncomfortable with - I hope - I would like to see an end to this covert suggestion that sex scenes should be hidden away, limited, avoided as if they were somehow shameful.

It's an insult to writing, writers and sex itself.

thethinker42
02-28-2010, 05:29 PM
As if we as writers are 'above all that'? (And yes, I have encountered such an allegation on multiple occasions before. I said occasions).

I've run into that too.


There seems to be a "You can't make me!" attitude which always arises in these discussions and while no-one is trying to make someone write something they're uncomfortable with - I hope - I would like to see an end to this covert suggestion that sex scenes should be hidden away, limited, avoided as if they were somehow shameful.

AMEN.


It's an insult to writing, writers and sex itself.

QFT.

Mr Flibble
02-28-2010, 06:15 PM
Sure, sure, we have people saying "I won't write a sex scene," and to me that's...strange. I mean, if your story doesn't call for it, then fair enough. but to dismiss it out of hand as if it were, like Lori said, 'less than'? As if we as writers are 'above all that'?

Confession time. First book had no sex scenes because I had no idea how to write one / felt a bit oogy about it. As it happens, that particular story didn't need one as it stands, but if I'd felt a bit more confident about it, the story might have gone a different direction. I wrote a few sex scenes ( well okay an erotic romance novella) last year as an exercise, just to see if I could. Figured I could always trunk it if it didn't work out, and I'd carry on fading to black, much as it would pain my dirty little mind to do so. As it turns out, it worked quite well....


Even if you never plan / need to have a sex scene in your book, as an excercise it's worth doing, because I learnt a lot about non-sex scenes by writing it, about tension and stuff - and I'm using what I learned in the current WIP which is almost exclusively 'get them into bed and panting then fade to black' but the build up to that is better, because I can see in my head how it will go. Tension in other scenes between lovers and ex-lovers etc is also better for it.

At least I am no longer embarrassed to use the word cock or various other words... ( which is weird. I use those kind of words all the time in speech. But in writing it froze me. Now I'm unfrozen. Possibly fatally so :D)

thethinker42
02-28-2010, 06:19 PM
Even if you never plan / need to have a sex scene in your book, as an excercise it's worth doing, because I learnt a lot about non-sex scenes by writing it, about tension and stuff

I totally agree.

icerose
02-28-2010, 07:18 PM
Since I do not write erotica, I'll compare it to what I do write, horror. It seems a lot of horror results down to just throw another body at them. To me this is like an erotica writer saying, just throw another sex scene at them. The reader will be happy right? Well, no. When bodies are just thrown around, like sex scenes, they lose their power and they lack meaning and you know you're skating to a fluff story that's heavy on bodies (sex) and light on story and character. The scene should never rob your story of plot or character, it should enhance it. Just like Thinker and Scarlet make every sex scene fight for its place in their book, I have to make the bodies fight for theirs.

I believe Stephan King said something along the lines of "Scare your readers, if you can't scare your readers horrify them, if you can't horrify them gross them out." I have to disagree. If I can't scare my readers I'm doing something wrong and I do not need to gross them out to cover my laziness, I need to go back and find out what I'm doing wrong. Not knocking on Stephan King, it has certainly worked well for him, but I think even fans can tell the difference between a job really well done and just another body thrown their way.

So I feel it's up to us writers to make every scene, every character, whatever it is, fight for its place and enhance the story and if it doesn't, it has got to go. And this applies to every scene. I don't see sex as getting any special pass, nor violence, nor blood and guts, nor anything else. Do what's right for the story.

Wayne K
02-28-2010, 07:21 PM
I'm going to get rich writing erotica, so I'll show ya. I'll show all of ya.

tt42 is my co writer, how can I fail?

ETA: SP read your reps :D

Kitty27
02-28-2010, 07:28 PM
First,this thread title is made of WIN.

Second,a sex scene has to serve a purpose for me to write it. It also depends on the book. With YA,I am very,very careful but with my horror,I wrote a scene of two vampires getting it on in a tub full of blood. Glorious stuff!

I absolutely hate gratitious sex scenes that come from nowhere,do nothing to advance the story,and the MEGA pet peeve of them all,are terribly written.

scarletpeaches
02-28-2010, 07:30 PM
Just like Thinker and Scarlet make every sex scene fight for its place in their book, I have to make the bodies fight for theirs...So I feel it's up to us writers to make every scene, every character, whatever it is, fight for its place and enhance the story and if it doesn't, it has got to go. And this applies to every scene. I don't see sex as getting any special pass, nor violence, nor blood and guts, nor anything else. Do what's right for the story.If I could rep you a squillion times for this post, I would.
I'm going to get rich writing erotica, so I'll show ya. I'll show all of ya.

tt42 is my co writer, how can I fail?

ETA: SP read your reps :DI have, and you disgust me. :e2brows:

Wayne K
02-28-2010, 07:32 PM
Then my job here is done

eyeblink
02-28-2010, 07:43 PM
I once wrote, and sold, a 6000-word short story that has six sex scenes in it. The story is however not meant as erotica and it wasn't published as such. Not that I have anything against erotica.

If a sex scene needs to be there, write it, and the way you write it will depend on the story's tone as much as anything else - whether you fade to black or go in for anatomical closeup, the level of emotional involvement and so on. If it doesn't need to be there, then leave it out.

Adam
02-28-2010, 08:04 PM
I wrote a scene of two vampires getting it on in a tub full of blood. Glorious stuff!

So. Frickin. Awesome.

Lemme know when the book's out! :D

Kitty27
02-28-2010, 08:09 PM
So. Frickin. Awesome.

Lemme know when the book's out! :D


Another lover of bloody horror?


Helloooooooo,Adam!


I hope to see it published one day!

Libbie
02-28-2010, 08:39 PM
My book could never be described as "romance," but it contains three entire chapters that are almost wholly sex (my definition of "sex" includes all acts done while naked or mostly naked, with the intent of producing sexual satisfaction. I do not limit my definition of "sex" to "penis goes into things.")

I won't try to tell you that the sex scenes were absolutely necessary to the story. I surely could have told it by drawing a curtain over the scene. The sexual encounters were necessary for the evolution of my main character and the resolution of a major conflict, but the story would likely lose nothing in the telling if I hinted at the sex instead of taking the more obvious route I took.

I wrote out the sex scenes because I like sex. Sex is great. I like to write it, just as I like to write many other human experiences. I like to read it, not only because it can be exciting in certain contexts (erotica), but because it is usually a profound human experience for most characters.

I like sex. Sex will continue to be a part of my fiction, in whatever way is appropriate for the story, for the foreseeable future. I don't really give a pinch whether some readers will think my books and stories have "gratuitous" sex. I'm not worried about those readers. I'm worried about writing the truest and best pieces I can write. And because I am not disgusted, repulsed, afraid of, made to feel cheapened by, or otherwise gunshy about the human sexual experience, it stays in my work. It's just nature. We're just animals, doing what animals do.

Ruv Draba
02-28-2010, 11:28 PM
None of us are using 'erotica' and 'porn' interchangeably are we?I don't think that there are two categories of sex-in-fiction but three:

Erotica: art with erotic themes -- erotic images that change our view of the world
Drama with sex: drama that just happens to take place while characters are having sex
Porn: sex for titillation's sake
An example of 1) might be an earlier poster's image of two vampires having sex in a bath of blood. One that came to my mind was a sex scene between two snails on a stalk of celery. You can always tell art, because it changes you.

An example of 2) might be a character having sex with a serial killer, where it's not about the sex at all but what the sex is trying to avoid. Or a character undergoing a mental breakdown say, where a palette of sexual imagery charts a course of mental decay.

An example of 3) is sex scenes written in most volumes you can pull off an airport bookshelf. It's by far the most common kind of sex-in-fiction.

I'd potentially read 1) if it was clever, novel and well-written (actually, if someone wrote a short about two snails boinking on a stalk of celery I'd probably jump on it). I'd definitely read 2) and what a pity that there's not more of it, but I don't read more than a para of 3) before I skim because I find it dull and self-indulgent.

Turgid sex-writing calls itself erotica in the same way that turgid narrative sometimes calls itself literary. But if we write for titillation alone it's porn, folks, no matter what it is or where it appears. And airport bookshelves are full of volumes with overlong porn-scenes: sex-porn, car-porn, gun-porn, fashion-porn, food-porn, wealth-porn...

So what?

So, the problem with titillation 3) is that by itself it has no tension and no drama. The drama in titillation actually precedes and succeeds it: will he go home with the redhead or the brunette, drive the Aston or the Lambo, choose the Glock or the Sig-Sauer, will she wear the Chanel or the Gucci LBD, will they eat the steak tartare or the lobster thermidore, fly to Monaco or Dubai? And subsequently, are they happy in their choice?

In between is how they felt in their consumption and that's essentially mood, and if we can't fit mood into a para or so of well-chosen language then are we really trying?

To me, the only thing that justifies more than a para or so of mood-writing is if we're weaving something through it, like wit (1) or drama (2).

Wayne K
02-28-2010, 11:45 PM
I like turtles

dgrintalis
02-28-2010, 11:55 PM
I have implied sex in the MS that is currently out with agents. I didn't go into details, but have a few before and after scenes. The sex scenes themselves were not significant to the story, just the establishment of the relationship between my MC and his new girlfriend. However, if one of my stories needs a more detailed sex scene, it will get it.

HConn
03-01-2010, 12:34 AM
I'm going to skip the other comments because I need to do some kid-wrangling, but if you have a reason to put some fucking in a book, do it. People like fucking. Just be sure to write it really, really well.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 12:42 AM
I don't think that there are two categories of sex-in-fiction but three:

Erotica: art with erotic themes -- erotic images that change our view of the world
Drama with sex: drama that just happens to take place while characters are having sex
Porn: sex for titillation's sake


Aye, I've written all three. My current novel has a lot of (1). Both of my novellas have a lot of (2). When I write (3), though, it's usually either practice for (1) or for, uh, private consumption with certain people.

I wouldn't say erotica must necessarily change our view of the world. That's setting the bar rather high... Sex can be mind-blowing, but it isn't always mind-altering...

For both (1) and (2), I'll settle for character/plot/story development. The different between erotica and porn, for me, is aesthetic or emotional attachment.

icerose
03-01-2010, 01:02 AM
In between is how they felt in their consumption and that's essentially mood, and if we can't fit mood into a para or so of well-chosen language then are we really trying?

To me, the only thing that justifies more than a para or so of mood-writing is if we're weaving something through it, like wit (1) or drama (2).

I'm still struggling to figure out what a single paragraph has to do with it. I could describe a rain storm and what happens in it in a single sentence or I could take pages depending on what's going on in the scene. Which one is right? The answer is neither. It all comes down to what the story needs to get across and how much needs to make it come alive.

NeuroFizz
03-01-2010, 01:03 AM
My brain is forming strange images again--the hot tub full of blood in particular. Does anyone remember that blood coagulates? Authors seem to either forget it or their characters have secret stashes of anti-coagulants. Nonetheless, I see a lot of fun in a hot tub full of a slosh of jelling blood turning to lumpy red grits.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 01:29 AM
I'm still struggling to figure out what a single paragraph has to do with it.If we want to create a mood, the question is how many words it takes to do that in a reader's mind. My answer is: around a paragraph, especially if the preceding text has already been filled with foreshadowing. Lust is a mood; we can evoke it in a paragraph, then unless we're going to do something with that mood it's time to move on.

What can we do with a mood once we've created it? Literarily, two things: create drama or develop themes. Drama is the interplay of conflict, themes are the interplay of ideas. 'More bumping uglies' gives us neither; it simply prolongs mood for its own sake.

As I mentioned above though, my comments aren't confined to sex. We see the same in a lot of other writing. Mood can be enjoyable but for me at least, prolonging it without introducing conflict or ideas is deadly dull.

Cassiopeia
03-01-2010, 01:29 AM
My brain is forming strange images again--the hot tub full of blood in particular. Does anyone remember that blood coagulates? Authors seem to either forget it or their characters have secret stashes of anti-coatulants. Nonetheless, I see a lot of fun in a hot tub full of a slosh of jelling blood turning to lumpy red grits.are we talking about a hot tub filled with only blood or blood and water...if it's water and blood, I've seen it not coagulate.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 01:32 AM
If we want to create a mood, the question is how many words it takes to do that in a reader's mind. My answer is: around a paragraph, especially if the preceding text has already been filled with seduction. Lust is a mood; we can evoke it in a paragraph, then unless we're going to do something with that mood it's time to move on.

My answer is it depends on the reader. And the story.

Sometimes a single sentence is too much. Sometimes a whole chapter isn't enough.

NeuroFizz
03-01-2010, 01:39 AM
are we talking about a hot tub filled with only blood or blood and water...if it's water and blood, I've seen it not coagulate.
It's just one of my pet peeves in fiction. And I've seen blood in water as well. It still tends to form tendrils that fall out of solution but it depends on the dilution.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 01:45 AM
The blood is magic. Duh.

Chris P
03-01-2010, 01:48 AM
I avoid sex scenes. Any that I have tried to write are either too graphic or too clinical.

I much prefer erotic tension, where the suggestion of sexuality is sometimes more appealing than the sexuality itself. The tension tells more about what I want to say about the characters than the actual act does.

icerose
03-01-2010, 01:51 AM
If we want to create a mood, the question is how many words it takes to do that in a reader's mind. My answer is: around a paragraph, especially if the preceding text has already been filled with foreshadowing. Lust is a mood; we can evoke it in a paragraph, then unless we're going to do something with that mood it's time to move on.

What can we do with a mood once we've created it? Literarily, two things: create drama or develop themes. Drama is the interplay of conflict, themes are the interplay of ideas. 'More bumping uglies' gives us neither; it simply prolongs mood for its own sake.

As I mentioned above though, my comments aren't confined to sex. We see the same in a lot of other writing. Mood can be enjoyable but for me at least, prolonging it without introducing conflict or ideas is deadly dull.

And it was already answered better than I could.


My answer is it depends on the reader. And the story.

Sometimes a single sentence is too much. Sometimes a whole chapter isn't enough.

It might be your own personal rule that all it needs is a paragraph, but it isn't mine and I'm sorry you expect it of me because you're rarely going to be satisfied if you expect everything to be a paragraph and nothing more.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 01:54 AM
I avoid sex scenes. Any that I have tried to write are either too graphic or too clinical.

I much prefer erotic tension, where the suggestion of sexuality is sometimes more appealing than the sexuality itself. The tension tells more about what I want to say about the characters than the actual act does.

What's wrong with graphic? :D

Cassiopeia
03-01-2010, 02:00 AM
I've been working on a suspense/thriller lately and I was surprised that my two main characters were carrying on in a rather sexual way very early on in the story. In fact, I was surprised by the vindictive way they are using sexual arousal. I've never been able to write like this in the past and what is making this work, is the WHY of the scene, not the how. The how is incidental to their purpose.

Selah March
03-01-2010, 02:05 AM
What can we do with a mood once we've created it? Literarily, two things: create drama or develop themes. Drama is the interplay of conflict, themes are the interplay of ideas. 'More bumping uglies' gives us neither; it simply prolongs mood for its own sake.

My characters tend to have character-revealing conversations/epiphanies/internal monologues while getting their uglies bumped, just as they tend to have them during other activities. A prolonged sex scene can be just as dramatic -- can be a turning point in a story -- in the same way a gunfight or a car accident or a death-bed confession can. It doesn't have to be about creating a mood, or titillation.

Ken
03-01-2010, 02:09 AM
... also think writers should focus on their strengths, while avoiding their weaknesses whenever possible. So if you ain't good at sex scenes, as several have stated, it is probably best to avoid writing them, even if your story rather calls for one, imo. Readers will forgive a writer for leaving something out, if they even notice the absence, but they will not forgive a writer for a writing a really bad scene.

kdnxdr
03-01-2010, 02:11 AM
I'm still lost as to what slasher-flicks have to do with sex???? Do the two automatically go together? Can't have one without the other?

Kitty27
03-01-2010, 02:46 AM
My brain is forming strange images again--the hot tub full of blood in particular. Does anyone remember that blood coagulates? Authors seem to either forget it or their characters have secret stashes of anti-coagulants. Nonetheless, I see a lot of fun in a hot tub full of a slosh of jelling blood turning to lumpy red grits.


The blood is at the beginning of the scene as they get it on. They lick it off one another and what's left,because they are vampires,they drink it.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 02:46 AM
... also think writers should focus on their strengths, while avoiding their weaknesses whenever possible. So if you ain't good at sex scenes, as several have stated, it is probably best to avoid writing them, even if your story rather calls for one, imo. Readers will forgive a writer for leaving something out, if they even notice the absence, but they will not forgive a writer for a writing a really bad scene.

Sometimes, but I think it's good to work on weaknesses so we get better at them.

Mr Flibble
03-01-2010, 02:50 AM
So if you ain't good at sex scenes, as several have stated, it is probably best to avoid writing them,

Got to agree with Kuwi - if you aren't good at something, if you know it's a weakness...that's what you should be practising. If you don't, how will you ever get better? Same goes for every aspect of writing tbh

I challenge TT42 to write something without a sex scene... :D

KathleenD
03-01-2010, 02:55 AM
Am I the only person who thinks it's just adorable that she can write a sex scene but says dagnabbit rather than something stronger? Probably not.

Maryn, grinning

Many of the erotica writers I've met lately, self included, are relatively prudish when we're talking face to face. I personally call my... personal bits by coy little phrases picked up from women raised in the American South, even though I can use the c-word with no problem in my work.

Two things to note: One, I spent the last five minutes trying to type the actual c-word and I couldn't do it. I think of message boards like a bunch of people hanging out on my deck drinking beer, and I would never use such a word in such a setting. Two, I only use the c-word when the character using it is totally swept up in a very specific type of almost animal-like passion, or because the character has a political viewpoint about the word and insists on using it.



Confession time. First book had no sex scenes because I had no idea how to write one / felt a bit oogy about it.

(snip)

I wrote a few sex scenes ( well okay an erotic romance novella) last year as an exercise, just to see if I could. Figured I could always trunk it if it didn't work out, and I'd carry on fading to black, much as it would pain my dirty little mind to do so. As it turns out, it worked quite well....


Oh, my. There are two of us in the world! Hello!

There were many other comments I quoted, and decided not to respond as many other writers have already made the points I would have made.

In short, though - I am not writing porn. I am writing erotica. The sexual content is integral to the plot and the theme of my stories, and each sexual encounter serves a purpose in advancing the story. I expect a slightly sneering attitude from people who feel awkward about explicit sexual content, but I don't have to accept it.

Ken
03-01-2010, 03:00 AM
Sometimes, but I think it's good to work on weaknesses so we get better at them.

... sure. But sometimes weaknesses just can't be improved. Or if they can, they can only be improved by so much. So one is better off avoiding them, if possible, and focusing on what one can do well and improving on that instead. That's been my own experience, at least. If I had kept trying to get better at things I'm no good at I would've just quit in frustration long ago. There are simply things I can not do. Kudos to those who have no limitations or weaknesses that can't be overcome with practise. Man, what I would not do to be in your shoes!

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 03:03 AM
My characters tend to have character-revealing conversations/epiphanies/internal monologues while getting their uglies bumped, just as they tend to have them during other activities. A prolonged sex scene can be just as dramatic -- can be a turning point in a story -- in the same way a gunfight or a car accident or a death-bed confession can. It doesn't have to be about creating a mood, or titillation.

Exactly. Example: In one of my books, there is a threesome near the middle, and one of the characters suddenly gets up and walks out. In order to show why he did this, it was necessary to show the ugly-bumping right up until the moment he left. In this case, the sex scene was the building - not releasing - of tension.

As I've said earlier, sex scenes should not be treated any differently than any other kind of scene. If they serve a purpose, include them. If they don't, don't. It just bothers me that they're treated as a lesser type of scene. A sex scene can be just as powerful as any other scene.

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 03:05 AM
I challenge TT42 to write something without a sex scene... :D

Actually, I've got a literary novel brewing that will mostly likely be devoid of sex scenes. ;) I absolutely can do it...I just mostly enjoy writing erotica because it's interesting to explore how sex can change people, relationships, etc.

icerose
03-01-2010, 03:09 AM
I'm still lost as to what slasher-flicks have to do with sex???? Do the two automatically go together? Can't have one without the other?

If I had to take a stab at it, I would guess that the writers never got any when they were in highschool so this is their personal fantasy revenge. All those hot girls and gorgeous guys while they're going at it in their secret place in the woods or out camping suddenly find a machette through their chests. Eh, just a guess.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 03:19 AM
... sure. But sometimes weaknesses just can't be improved. Or if they can, they can only be improved by so much. So one is better off avoiding them, if possible, and focusing on what one can do well and improving on that instead. That's been my own experience, at least. If I had kept trying to get better at things I'm no good at I would've just quit in frustration long ago. There are simply things I can not do. Kudos to those who have no limitations or weaknesses that can't be overcome with practise. Man, what I would not do to be in your shoes!

Eh, dialogue is one of my weaknesses. I can't exactly avoid it.

maryland
03-01-2010, 03:21 AM
I find the sexual events just "happen" in my writing, just like they do in real life. I don't think, ah, this chapter is getting boring, let's liven it up with a bit of sex.
The characters live as normal(?) a life in the books as we do out here, and that means attraction, lust, need, excitement and the whole caboodle.
This includes taking all their clothes off now and again and experiencing something ... which is very difficult to describe without being unintentionally funny or foul.
Hah! That's where we win our writing spurs.
And I try to bring in condoms as discreetly as possible, because they are part of real life too, as well as contraceptives or fear of pregnancy.
There is so much potential material here that is valuable and I'd feel I was a coward to avoid it, again, just as in real life.
Plus there's a lot of words in the dictionary that help out - especially some really old ones.

Cassiopeia
03-01-2010, 03:23 AM
If I had to take a stab at it, I would guess that the writers never got any when they were in highschool so this is their personal fantasy revenge. All those hot girls and gorgeous guys while they're going at it in their secret place in the woods or out camping suddenly find a machette through their chests. Eh, just a guess.Meh. I suspect it has to do more with what the audience wants than anything.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 03:29 AM
It might be your own personal rule that all it needs is a paragraph, but it isn't mine and I'm sorry you expect it of me because you're rarely going to be satisfied if you expect everything to be a paragraph and nothing more.Authors and readers self-select and I'm not at all disappointed with my reading but thank you for your concern.

Very often, sex appears as a sort of candy-bar intermission on the drama and while I don't object to a handful of popcorn as light relief from the tension, I do object to the movie stopping until I've ploughed through a mega-bucket. And slopping on grease to get it down faster ignores the point that there may be too much fucking popcorn in the first place. If the drama is worth enjoying, it's also not worth interrupting.

Art and titillation both make heavy use of mood, and titillation loves to pass itself off as art, but the art is really easy to tell: it's the one that keeps you thinking.

icerose
03-01-2010, 03:34 AM
Authors and readers self-select and I'm not at all disappointed with my reading but thank you for your concern.

Very often, sex appears as a sort of candy-bar intermission on the drama and while I don't object to a handful of popcorn as light relief from the tension, I do object to the movie stopping until I've ploughed through a mega-bucket. And slopping on grease to get it down faster ignores the point that there may be too much fucking popcorn in the first place. If the drama is worth enjoying, it's also not worth interrupting.

Art and titillation both make heavy use of mood, and titillation loves to pass itself off as art, but the art is really easy to tell: it's the one that keeps you thinking.

Sorry I meant mine, I probably worded that funny. If you're expecting everything to be resolved in a paragraph you'll be disappointed in mine. Seems like when I try to keep things brief they end up too brief and when I try to draw them out, I draw them out too long. It's all about balance IMO. But you're certainly welcome to write it anyway you like, your personal rule just wouldn't work for me is all.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 03:44 AM
As I've said earlier, sex scenes should not be treated any differently than any other kind of scene. If they serve a purpose, include them. If they don't, don't. It just bothers me that they're treated as a lesser type of scene. A sex scene can be just as powerful as any other scene.In that vein, I'd suggest that dramatically there's no such thing as a sex scene. If our focus is drama then what we have is a dramatic scene containing sex, and that's an entirely different beast to a sex-scene that interrupts the drama.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 03:46 AM
Sorry I meant mine, I probably worded that funny. If you're expecting everything to be resolved in a paragraph you'll be disappointed in mine.Maybe you have drama sitting in there too? Suggestion: check beats; see whether the power is swinging back and forth; see whether they have competing agendas. If it is and they do, you have drama woven through it as well.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 03:47 AM
Well yeah, a sex scene is just a scene that happens to have sex in it. I don't treat one any differently from any other scene.

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 04:03 AM
In that vein, I'd suggest that dramatically there's no such thing as a sex scene. If our focus is drama then what we have is a dramatic scene containing sex, and that's an entirely different beast to a sex-scene that interrupts the drama.

I'm not going to split hairs over terminology. A scene with sex in it, a sex scene, whatever...call it what you will. *ANY* scene that interrupts the drama and grinds the story to a boring, pointless halt is gratuitous and shouldn't be included. Sex scenes are not the only culprit, nor is every sex scene a drama-stopping, self-indulgent distraction.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 04:09 AM
*ANY* scene that interrupts the drama and grinds the story to a boring, pointless halt is gratuitous and shouldn't be included....unless it's mood-setting or contextual, in which case reduce the squelchy bits to a paragraph or so; don't make a whole scene out of it. Just because it's emotional for the character does not mean it's drama for the reader. And yes, the same applies to descriptions of Glocks and Little Black Dresses and Cadavers in Bathtubs.

I think you made my point. :tongue

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 04:19 AM
...unless it's mood-setting or contextual, in which case reduce the squelchy bits to a paragraph or so; don't make a whole scene out of it. Just because it's emotional for the character does not mean it's drama for the reader. And yes, the same applies to descriptions of fistfights and car-chases and cadavers on slabs.

I think you made my point. :tongue

I think you're overthinking this. Seriously. The same rules apply to sex scenes as any other scene: If it furthers the tension/story/etc, keep it. If not, drop it. Arbitrary lengths (a paragraph?), splitting hairs about terminology, etc., are pointless. Every scene should be as long as it needs to be to accomplish what it's meant to accomplish. Every scene should accomplish something, or be snipped.

Also, quite honestly, I'm not sure how a sex scene reduced to a single paragraph would set any mood. In one of my recent manuscripts, I have a lengthy sexual encounter summarized in one sentence because it's only necessary that the reader knows it happened. Nothing that happens during the scene is important, just that it did. It hardly sets any kind of mood, just tells the reader what happened and moves on. That's all it's supposed to do. But if I wanted to convey some kind of mood or evoke an emotional response from the reader, I think I owe them a bit more "showing than telling" than that.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 04:24 AM
...unless it's mood-setting or contextual, in which case reduce the squelchy bits to a paragraph or so; don't make a whole scene out of it. Just because it's emotional for the character does not mean it's drama for the reader. And yes, the same applies to descriptions of Glocks and Little Black Dresses and Cadavers in Bathtubs.

I think you made my point. :tongue

You're forgetting that description, to set a mood or anything else, can move forward the story or reveal character by the details one chooses to include.

SPMiller
03-01-2010, 04:51 AM
Also, quite honestly, I'm not sure how a sex scene reduced to a single paragraph would set any mood.If you think of a paragraph as a sequence of sentences supporting a single idea, then you can get away with one long, carefully constructed paragraph.

SPMiller
03-01-2010, 04:54 AM
You're forgetting that description, to set a mood or anything else, can move forward the story or reveal character by the details one chooses to include.Again, one of my favorite writing exercises:

Describe a county courthouse from the perspective of an old man whose son has just died in a war. Then describe that same courthouse from the perspective of a young man hopelessly in love. Do not mention the war, the son, the son's death, the love affair, or the age of either man.

scarletpeaches
03-01-2010, 04:56 AM
If you think of a paragraph as a sequence of sentences supporting a single idea, then you can get away with one long, carefully constructed paragraph.As someone who's read every word tt42 has ever written, I can confirm she does quite well on the 'constructing paragraphs' nonsense.

Her editors think so, too.

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 04:58 AM
Again, one of my favorite writing exercises:

Describe a county courthouse from the perspective of an old man whose son has just died in a war. Then describe that same courthouse from the perspective of a young man hopelessly in love. Do not mention the war, the son, the son's death, the love affair, or the age of either man.

I've seen that same one applied to a walk in a forest, too.

I once wrote a short story solely through the description of the same desk, viewed from four different perspectives.

SPMiller
03-01-2010, 05:00 AM
As someone who's read every word tt42 has ever written, I can confirm she does quite well on the 'constructing paragraphs' nonsense.

Her editors think so, too.Excuse me?

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 05:10 AM
I think you're overthinking this.I think we might've been skirting around an important issue, and I may have been coming at it sideways too.

We say 'sex scene' as though the scene is about sex, but real scenes are about conflict, and for most purposes sex is just imagery. We don't really write sex-scenes. We write sex-passages.

So we can't compare sex to fist-fights or car-chases (and I replaced my earlier examples for this reason). We have to compare it to rhapsodies on soufflť, or the cut of a ball-gown, or brooding forests or the snap of sails on the yard-arm. In other words, it's about mood and theme, and the same rules of craft apply: make it strong, memorable but keep it focused and don't go overboard. Some writers get this. Many just don't.

Mario Puzo wrote a few sex-passages in The Godfather. Published in 1969, it's the quintessential Mafia tale of power, passion, lust and betrayal. But the sex is infrequent, terse and even forty years since he published, still contains punch. His first 'sex scene' consisted of one line: a woman exposing her genitals to humiliate a guy. The second was (from memory) a couple of paragraphs of the hotheaded Heir Apparent Sonny boffing a bridesmaid at a wedding. It was punchy, memorable and did its job. At the end of Sonny's Quickie we learned exactly what kind of guy he was.

Contrast with (say) Eric van Lustbader, who if he can fit six pages of BDSM in a broom-closet between intrigues, will. It isn't mood and there's not a theme to be found. Any drama is usually superficial. It's just pornographic interludes in the plot, written to sell to bored people in airport lounges.

So my point is: if you want to write 'sex scenes' well, write them like Puzo and not like Lustbader.

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 05:16 AM
We say 'sex scene' as though the scene is about sex, but real scenes are about conflict, and for most purposes sex is just imagery. We don't really write sex-scenes. We write sex-passages.

Again, we're splitting hairs about terminology. "Sex scene" is a perfectly reasonable shorthand for a scene containing sex, whether it's "about" sex or the sex is imagery or whatever.


So my point is: if you want to write 'sex scenes' well, write them like Puzo and not like Lustbader.

There is a shitload of middle ground between those two extremes.

scarletpeaches
03-01-2010, 05:17 AM
If y'all need me, I'll be right over here teaching my granny to suck eggs.

Wayne K
03-01-2010, 05:22 AM
I'll be taking pictures :e2photo:

Selah March
03-01-2010, 06:17 AM
We say 'sex scene' as though the scene is about sex, but real scenes are about conflict, and for most purposes sex is just imagery. We don't really write sex-scenes. We write sex-passages.


Maybe you write sex passages full of imagery and mood and rhapsodies and what-have-you. I write sex scenes, which also have their share of mood and imagery, but are based in either the introduction or the resolution of conflict.

Example? The scene I completed last night, in which the recently consecrated squire, Daniel Willoughby, requests that his master, Lord Thanatos, to relieve him of his virginity, as it has become a burden to him and leaves him vulnerable to the mockery of the other Champions and their squires. Thanatos is resistant to the idea, for reasons he will not share.

Conflict.

The scene -- a sex scene, not a passage -- is quite explicit and, at over 1500 words, fairly long. (It's also full of mood and atmosphere and imagery, but I try to include that in all my scenes.) By the end of it, Daniel's virginity problem is solved (sort of) but now he has another -- he liked it quite a bit more than he thought he would, or (more importantly) should.

One conflict resolved, another one introduced.

I suppose I could've done it one paragraph. But that would be telling, not showing, and while telling has its place, it doesn't belong in a scene that sets up or resolves or heightens major conflicts for the the protagonist.

Yes, I am writing erotic romance. That doesn't mean sex can't make up valid scenes in other forms of fiction. It's another arena for conflict, and conflict makes story.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 06:21 AM
There is a shitload of middle ground between those two extremes.They're hardly extremes. Van Lustbader is far from the worst writer we can find on an airport bookshelf, and Puzo is hardly the best.

Ultimately, every writer has to decide what they'll aspire to and what they'll settle for. Fortunately, authors and readers self-select. Gratuitous imagery certainly isn't confined to sex -- the fantasy, horror and crime shelves are full of it too, and there are no end of punters who'll happily read it. Then there are readers who won't touch it.

I'm somewhere in between -- if the story is otherwise strong, I'll read a para or two of sex-imagery, slash-imagery, cadaver-imagery or whatever. But if it gets dull I'll flick some pages and on DVDs I fast-forward. Not everyone may want to roll that way, but I've never heard a reader say that a passage of imagery was ruined for being short, intense and well-written.

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 06:28 AM
They're hardly extremes. Van Lustbader is far from the worst writer we can find on an airport bookshelf, and Puzo is hardly the best.

There is still middle ground between short/terse and long/overdone. A lot of middle ground. If there's anything to be gained from writing more like one of those authors than the other, it shouldn't be the length or style of the scenes, it should be their purpose. If Van Lustbader's scenes are gratuitous and pointless, then they would be whether they were a single paragraph or 5,000 words. If Puzo's sex scenes are powerful, relevant, and the story would be somehow "less than" without them? There again, they would be whether they were long or short.

Lengthy, explicit sex scenes are perfectly valid if they serve a purpose.


But if it gets dull I'll flick some pages and on DVDs I fast-forward.

As will I. And this can be a conversation, a sex scene, a battle scene, whatever. If it's dull and tedious, I skip it.

Libbie
03-01-2010, 06:50 AM
This thread is going 'round and 'round in circles. You know what we need? A web comic. Start here (http://achewood.com/index.php?date=07022009), and click the right arrow at the top to read more of this story arc. It gets really good.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 06:51 AM
I write sex scenes, which also have their share of mood and imagery, but are based in either the introduction or the resolution of conflict.I haven't read your work, Selah, so I can only guess. But in my experience, most 'sex scenes' -- I mean whole scenes beginning in a sexual advance and ending in an orgasm, or a phone call or whatever -- aren't about sex at all, but power.

Which is not to say that the imagery is irrelevant -- sexual imagery can carry themes just as any other imagery can. It can reveal characters (which is part of what anchors a theme) and so on. But if you had to, I bet you could write it with nary a lick of sexual imagery, and still produce exactly the same character insights, relationships and problems at the end.

I'm not saying that you should. I'm saying that the drama we associate with sex lies in the relationships, intrigues, the internal conflicts -- the social and psychological stuff. And that stuff exists with or without the sex -- which is why a seduction to murder say, can look so much like a sexual seduction at times.

So when we evaluate sexual imagery, I think we can't simply do so by saying 'it creates drama' -- I don't think it does. More likely it contributes to mood, to theme and may enhance the underlying drama or compete with it. So that's how I think we need to evaluate it.

But several posters have said that it's not about the sex, and I agree. Several other genres are also strong mood genres -- fantasy, horror, and romance for example. None are known for their authors writing too little imagery. When we have a criticism about their imagery, it's usually that authors are writing too damn much. (If I had to pick a worst offender it'd be Fantasy by a country mile, but that's hardly the point.) So the same criteria that apply to descriptions of squelchy-bits apply equally to shiny swords, mutilated cadavers and Audrey Hepburn's hats. :D My point being that a paragraph or so on any of these subjects without some intervening drama or some theme to enrich it, is normally plenty. :)

scarletpeaches
03-01-2010, 06:52 AM
This thread is going 'round and 'round in circles. You know what we need? A web comic. Start here (http://achewood.com/index.php?date=07022009), and click the right arrow at the top to read more of this story arc. It gets really good.If it ain't Axe Cop I don't give a rat's ass.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 07:46 AM
If there's anything to be gained from writing more like one of those authors than the other, it shouldn't be the length or style of the scenes, it should be their purpose.I think we've already talked about the purpose of imagery: mood and theme (and Kuw said character, which to me is theme anyway). Theme can take pages to develop, but mood is a couple of paras at most.

I'm bored with this. More cartoons, Libbie!

Libbie
03-01-2010, 07:59 AM
If it ain't Axe Cop I don't give a rat's ass.

You should give a rat's ass. It's "The New Kings of Sapphic Erotica."

Libbie
03-01-2010, 08:01 AM
More cartoons, Libbie!

http://www.marriedtothesea.com/021306/got-to-get-paid.jpg

I think I have officially exceeded my allowed quota of thread derailings. I'm going to get banned if I don't step lively.

KathleenD
03-01-2010, 08:15 AM
http://www.marriedtothesea.com/021306/got-to-get-paid.jpg

I think I have officially exceeded my allowed quota of thread derailings. I'm going to get banned if I don't step lively.

I just got done writing for the night (eight pages, including five manuscript pages of explicit character-illuminating sex in case anyone cares), and decided to check in and see if anyone had said anything new.

And this cartoon nearly made me wet my pants from laughing. Thank you for bringing the awesome to this thread.

thethinker42
03-01-2010, 08:18 AM
And this cartoon nearly made me wet my pants from laughing. Thank you for bringing the awesome to this thread.

QFT. :D

kuwisdelu
03-01-2010, 08:22 AM
Oh for fuck's sake.

^^^see what I did thar?


If I want to write about boy parts going into girl parts in explicit detail for several thousand words and have character and plot development through the sex (and yes, even through the specific imagery and description of that sex!) and do it well, I'm damn well going to do it. Hey, in fact I have — and it was about sex, too! Oh, and on top of everything else, I'm going to call it literary erotica because it's totally deep. In more ways than one. ;) God help anyone who reads it on a plane.

Ruv Draba
03-01-2010, 08:32 AM
http://www.mammothgardens.com/inksters/2008-11-Nov/081020_cartoon_c_a13501_p465.gif (http://www.mammothgardens.com/inksters/2008-11-Nov/081020_cartoon_c_a13501_p465.gif)
(Via Mammoth Gardens INKsters)

Libbie
03-01-2010, 08:58 PM
Bringing awesome to threads is what I do. That, and revise my book, apparently.

Ken
03-01-2010, 09:10 PM
Eh, dialogue is one of my weaknesses. I can't exactly avoid it.

... I supect you're just being difficult :whip:

But if not, bear in mind that there are a good number of novels with little to no dialogue. I've read a lot of YA survival novels, of the sort, in which characters are going up against the elements by themselves, like The Island of the Blue Dolphins, which won the Newberry. I'm sure there are adult novels as well, in all genres, which have sparce dialogue. So if you want to avoid it you can. By all means try to improve by practise. But if you're still struggling 2 years from now, maybe give the former tactic a whirl. Just my 2 cents, based on my own, individual experience.