Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

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craig
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Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by craig » July 30th, 2010, 9:37 pm

So... I have a gay love scene coming up. Given the context, it'll be fairly mild (as in, it'll be in a public place, so it'll be passionate but lacking in actual sex).

I got to thinking about love scenes as I've gotten closer to this one.

In the sci-fi books I've read that have had both straight and gay love scenes (which, admittedly, is not many), the straight ones tend to be fairly explicit and involved, whereas the gay ones tend to be... heavily glossed over. Any ideas or opinions as to who is responsible for those choices? Is it the writers not wanting to get too in detail with same sex love scenes? Or is it editors telling writers to tone it down because the so-called general public might have issues with it?

I ask, because my objective is to make my gay love scene as hot, or hotter, than my straight love scene. My straight scene, given the context and characters, was very... um... charged... and involved sex, but was not explicit. I don't believe you need to be explicit to get steamy. (I'll admit, I got turned on while reading over that scene during an edit.) I want the gay scene to be as charged and steamy (though due to context, it will be non-sex) -- I want to turn on readers, regardless of their orientation.

So... if I make a hot gay love scene, is it likely that I'll later be told to tone it down or take it out? (Assuming an agent and/or editor shows interest, of course.)

And if this gets published and if I get a chance to do a sequel or turn it into a series, this same-sex couple will surely have some more "involved" love scenes in the future.

For the record, I have read two general sci-fi books with VERY intense gay love scenes, so I have seen it happen before, just it's kinda rare.

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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by Nick » July 30th, 2010, 11:12 pm

It's possible, but it's equal possible they'll ask you tone down the straight scene. I mean I could be wrong, but I don't imagine an agent/editor would ask you to edit down a scene just because it involves homosexual as opposed to heterosexual relations. Regarding your questions above, well, I basically just answered that but to reiterate, I think it's more that the writers don't want to go there than it is the editors asking them to tone it down. But, I could be very, very wrong. I probably am very, very wrong, at least in some cases.

I say rock with it and wait to see what happens when you get to that point in the process.

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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by Rachel Capps » July 30th, 2010, 11:32 pm

IMHO - write what you want to write, and make it everything you want to read. Worry about the discussions with an editor when you get to that point :)

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cheekychook
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by cheekychook » July 31st, 2010, 12:03 am

I think a lot of writers steer clear of sex scenes, period, because they're afraid they'll sound ridiculous/be offensive/insert-random-sex-scene fear here.

I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so I can't comment specifically on that genre's preferences (no pun intended---well, ok, maybe some pun intended, but just a little) but in general fiction/women's fiction/chick lit/ YA I think the sex scenes should be as detailed as the story merits. In other words, if it enhances the plot or helps depict the characters or their relationship, go for it.

Fade to black sex scenes and implied sex are actually pet peeves of mine, particularly in books where there is a huge build up to the scene. I hate it when authors spend pages (or chapters, or the whole book, or an entire series [*cough* Twilight]) building sexual tension and then when the big moment finally arrives the chapter ends and the characters wake up happy the next morning. Gah! (I just have to note that I'm having a really difficult time getting though this post without an excess of double entendres.)

There is quite a bit of sexual content in my current WIP---it's a story about two young married couples and sex plays an integral part in their relationships. The scenes vary in nature and depict a variety of sexual encounters including good sex, bad sex, fantasies, etc. Every scene is there for a purpose; they showcase the characters' personalities and illustrate the changing aspects of the marriages. I was initially very worried about how readers would "take" theses scenes, but after having all the members of my crit group and 4 betas read them I now feel very confident that they should stay as they are. That doesn't mean that if I some day get an agent or editor they won't tell me to tone them down or delete them, but it does mean that readers are responding very well to them.

If you feel these scenes are important and will enhance your book I'd say write them the way you think they should be. Let feedback from others help you decide if they need tweaking later. Don't try to second guess what agents or publishers will or won't want.

Regarding the same sex aspect of your question I'd say the right agent/publisher won't be put off. I say "right" in that some probably will, but they're not the "right" agent/publisher for you because you obviously feel it's important to include this in your book. Very mainstream television shows (Brothers and Sisters) are now addressing same sex relationships (almost) as openly as they address heterosexual relationships, so I would hope the literary world is progressing as fast as the television networks. I would hope. That doesn't mean they are, but I think it increases the odds.

Try to remember to write what you'd like to read. Good luck!
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Omega12596
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by Omega12596 » July 31st, 2010, 1:02 am

You should definitely write the scenes to make you happy :D

I don't know how specific agents/editors may handle these scenes, but I can tell you that Kensington's Aphrodisia line has all varieties of sexual pairings in very explicit scenes. Another thing I know is certain print publishers want their sex super explicit, but you can't use the 'p' or 'c' words to explain female parts in the scenes, which doesn't apply to your m/m, but might to your m/f scenes.

Good luck and if you want a beta *cheeky grin*, all you have to do is ask :D

Down the well
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by Down the well » July 31st, 2010, 10:00 am

cheekychook wrote:Fade to black sex scenes and implied sex are actually pet peeves of mine, particularly in books where there is a huge build up to the scene. I hate it when authors spend pages (or chapters, or the whole book, or an entire series [*cough* Twilight]) building sexual tension and then when the big moment finally arrives the chapter ends and the characters wake up happy the next morning.
I'm struggling with this right now in my novel. I don't quite fade to black, but anything I write beyond that sounds so STUPID. Even the kissing scenes are ridiculous. The love story is a huge part of the novel, and I do think a reader would be disappointed if I didn't go there, but OMG I can't quite figure out how to describe things without sounding like an idiot. And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I probably just need to do more research, but seriously, how on earth do you get through these scenes without it reading like a play-by-play analysis?

craig
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by craig » July 31st, 2010, 2:25 pm

Down the well wrote: I'm struggling with this right now in my novel. I don't quite fade to black, but anything I write beyond that sounds so STUPID. Even the kissing scenes are ridiculous. The love story is a huge part of the novel, and I do think a reader would be disappointed if I didn't go there, but OMG I can't quite figure out how to describe things without sounding like an idiot. And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I probably just need to do more research, but seriously, how on earth do you get through these scenes without it reading like a play-by-play analysis?
Well, the straight love scene I have earlier in the book isn't really explicit, because I feel you don't have to be very graphic to get your point across and "excite" readers. Instead, I focussed on the emotions, the intimacy, the closeness, etc... It was a reunion scene after months of being apart (and one thinking the other was dead) -- so there were conflicted emotions. The characters took it slow, relearning each other's bodies and curves, and let their hunger for each other take over.

It was a little bit fade-to-black -- but what was key in that scene wasn't actually the sex itself, but the lead-up to sex. I think I got it how I wanted and it shouldn't leave readers disappointed.

Maybe that sort of approach would help in your case? (Focussing on the emotions and closeness and hunger rather than the play-by-play?)

Down the well
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by Down the well » July 31st, 2010, 2:53 pm

craig wrote:t was a little bit fade-to-black -- but what was key in that scene wasn't actually the sex itself, but the lead-up to sex. I think I got it how I wanted and it shouldn't leave readers disappointed.
I've been looking over my scenes again, and I think you're right. I like them better when I focus on the anticipation and reaction instead of the act. I think as a writer it is about finding balance. I might be trying to push a little beyond what I'm comfortable with and it's coming off clunky.

And, Craig, I don't think you have anything to worry about with editors or agents asking you to tone down your scenes. Gay or straight, if you are sincere and focusing on the emotion, as you said, it should be fine.

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cheekychook
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Re: Love Scenes: Straight and Gay

Post by cheekychook » August 1st, 2010, 1:52 am

Down the well wrote:And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I probably just need to do more research, but seriously, how on earth do you get through these scenes without it reading like a play-by-play analysis?
I think part of the trick to avoiding the play-by-play analysis is to make sure you're using all of your pov character's senses during the romantic scenes. It's not just about where hands/lips/etc are, it's about the thoughts, smells, tastes, sensations, sounds...it all combines to create the mood. Of course the prelude is a big part of the equation---even in real life the anticipation of a first kiss can far outweigh the pleasure of the kiss itself---but sometimes (hopefully) the kiss is worth a mention too.

I have to add that the idea of "researching" this topic gave me the giggles..."Honey, can we try this tonight---it's research for my novel..."
THAT would increase my husband's interest in my "writing hobby" for sure.
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