Writing Sex Scenes

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 19th, 2011, 1:15 pm

sierramcconnell wrote:Perhaps I just look at it differently, (ie not a panting, raging, hormone) because of the following:

1) I'm a virgin, I can do without. I don't need it to live.
2) I know people who've been abused. Let's please to not be glorifying the act.
3) I know people who've been raped. Let's really please to not be glorifying the act.

So sex. It is a terrible, bad, horrible thing that does not need to be glorified. It is useless filler for the sake of shock value and "thinking" it's going to get a rise out of our readers, when really, unless you've been there, no, you've not been there.

I'll go with the virgin thing because I was one until I got married. I severely scared my husband because I had all these high falutin' ideas about how sex was overrated, I didn't need it, etc. Let's just say that three years down the road, I totally understand its importance. However, I think our society has bankrupted the concept of sex. They've turned into something that is physical and not emotional. It is very emotional. You're connected to that person no matter what. In fact, whenever I've gone through a rough patch with the hubby, I ask myself what are you going to do? I honestly can't see myself being with someone else in that way. Which was probably the reason I waited to begin with. Well that and I used to a germ-a-phobe.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by androidblues » May 19th, 2011, 1:16 pm

So sex. It is a terrible, bad, horrible thing that does not need to be glorified. It is useless filler for the sake of shock value and "thinking" it's going to get a rise out of our readers, when really, unless you've been there, no, you've not been there.
I'm sorry, but I have to comment on this. Sex isn't good or bad. It's what you make of it. Rape is bad. Rape involves sex, but sex isn't bad because of that.

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for sex. Neither would you. Don't confuse rape with sex. And don't confuse Yaoi with sex. Gay people aren't all about sex. Many Yaoi stories don't even have sex in them.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2011, 1:16 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:Well, Margo, I'm not Polymath, but I'll throw in.
Yes, please do. I'm curious about a few things (and, everyone who writes sex scenes, please do chime in). Have you written other books with sex in them? Did you go about writing the scenes in the two book differently? And do you have a particular technique for writing them? Donald Maass has a technique that focuses on five different sensory details -- a quality of light, the scent of the smoke from a snuffed candle, etc -- that has worked well enough for me, but I don't think it's the best I could do. Other techniques?
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medussa74
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by medussa74 » May 19th, 2011, 1:21 pm

Just a thought... doesn't the appropriateness of a sex scene depend on the characters? I mean, if your character was a horn dog, it would be odd to never have a sexually charged scene. The reverse would be true if the character was a prude.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 19th, 2011, 1:22 pm

Margo wrote:Have you written other books with sex in them? Did you go about writing the scenes in the two book differently? And do you have a particular technique for writing them? Donald Maass has a technique that focuses on five different sensory details -- a quality of light, the scent of the smoke from a snuffed candle, etc -- that has worked well enough for me, but I don't think it's the best I could do. Other techniques?
I read once that you should look at it as a purely emotional experience from your character's perspective. The scene also should indicate what is going on between the characters at that precise moment. And that was from a romance writer!

I actually went back to read my scenes to see what emotions were being conveyed, and whether or not I was appropriately capturing what was going on. It was very helpful.

I've never read Donald Maass' technique, but from your description, I also try to capture those things in a scene. Particularly the light. Is that technique in his book or can be found online? I would like to read more.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by sierramcconnell » May 19th, 2011, 1:23 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:I'll go with the virgin thing because I was one until I got married.
I just want to say, "Good for you." There's not enough of this in the world. :)
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 19th, 2011, 1:28 pm

sierramcconnell wrote:
oldhousejunkie wrote:I'll go with the virgin thing because I was one until I got married.
I just want to say, "Good for you." There's not enough of this in the world. :)
Eh, I just wish people would realize the magnitude of the situation. Personally, I never dated anyone who I was sexually attracted to until I met my husband. In fact, I was engaged to another guy before him and part of my reasoning for breaking things off was looking at him one day and thinking, "I so can't sleep with you for the rest of my life."

Now my hubby was an entirely different story. I took a massive amount of will power and all of my morals not to go there. :-)

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by sierramcconnell » May 19th, 2011, 1:31 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:
sierramcconnell wrote:
oldhousejunkie wrote:I'll go with the virgin thing because I was one until I got married.
I just want to say, "Good for you." There's not enough of this in the world. :)
Eh, I just wish people would realize the magnitude of the situation. Personally, I never dated anyone who I was sexually attracted to until I met my husband. In fact, I was engaged to another guy before him and part of my reasoning for breaking things off was looking at him one day and thinking, "I so can't sleep with you for the rest of my life."

Now my hubby was an entirely different story. I took a massive amount of will power and all of my morals not to go there. :-)
LOL. See, I've never been attracted to anyone that way either. Most people I'm attracted to it's more of an... "Oh, they're so cute\pretty. I bet I could make some darling clothes for them and take some amazing pictures. But once I'm done they'll have to go in a box and- Wait, I can't do that to people. Damn."
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2011, 1:31 pm

oldhousejunkie wrote:I've never read Donald Maass' technique, but from your description, I also try to capture those things in a scene. Particularly the light. Is that technique in his book or can be found online? I would like to read more.
I am pretty sure it is in the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (separate from the book Writing the Breakout Novel). Anyone else remember that for sure? I know he was tweeting writing tips all through March, at least, and a lot of them were from his books. One might mention the technique. I want to say I might have seen a tweet like that from him fairly recently. Perhaps follow him on Twitter.

(I can't believe I'm saying that. Curse you, Twitter, for swallowing my soul!)
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Meaningful sex scenes I've read do the emotional complication thing artfully. I won't go into sex scenes I've written out of a preference not to sing my own praises or expose my ongoing shortcomings in those venues.

The seminal, scandalous sex scene of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover, exquisite, sublime, intimate, graphic. Emotional. Problematic and timely and judicious and an outcome of a First Cause, though not a final outcome; therefore, an effect that in turn builds causation, tension, and antagonism. So scandalous it was banned in Britain for decades. And coincidentally and contemporaneously, James Joyce's Ulysses in the U.S. for similar reasons.

Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls. All of the above, well, scandalous, but not banned nationwide.

All three have intimate, graphic sex scenes worth investigating for why they surpassed their respective detractors' condemnations and have become widely critically acclaimed in spite of or because of their artful handling of graphic scenes.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Mira » May 19th, 2011, 1:54 pm

I agree with alot of what Margo and Polymath are saying. Well said! I also agree with Sommer that YA is a very good place to help teenagers explore sexuality.

But I want to add something to the discussion. What about entertainment?

I find reading a well written sex scene to be highly entertaining and fun. Just like I enjoy watching movies that have great sex scenes, I enjoy reading great ones too. A well written sex scene is very hard to write and I commend the skill that goes into writing them.

It doesn't all have to be about the higher mind. Sometimes things are just fun.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 2:05 pm

Sure, Mira, well-written graphic scenes are entertaining, if they don't evoke reader antipathy.

An artful graphic scene makes 'em want to look, though they know they're not supposed to according to some presupposed notion of propiety. Forbidden fruit. Nothing like vicariously sampling forbidden fruits to challenge readers to open their minds and think conscientiously, critically for themselves.

Two related challenges I see are avoiding creating a creepily voyeuristic scene and avoiding tempting impressionable minds into activities and consequences thereof they're not emotionally prepared for.
Last edited by polymath on May 19th, 2011, 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2011, 2:11 pm

Mira wrote:But I want to add something to the discussion. What about entertainment?

I find reading a well written sex scene to be highly entertaining and fun. Just like I enjoy watching movies that have great sex scenes, I enjoy reading great ones too. A well written sex scene is very hard to write and I commend the skill that goes into writing them.

It doesn't all have to be about the higher mind. Sometimes things are just fun.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Yes, definitely. I'm in complete agreement. I've been reading a lot of indie stuff lately, looking for really well-written indie books and stories. I'm not in the mood for thrillers, where a lot of the best indie writing seems to be. So, for now, the stuff I'm finding that is really well-done (to my tastes) has been the erotica.

Edit: oops, I think I'm supposed to say self-published instead of indie. I wonder if I could popularize another cool term, like rogue author or renegade or ronin. ;)
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by sierramcconnell » May 19th, 2011, 2:18 pm

Mira wrote:I agree with alot of what Margo and Polymath are saying. Well said! I also agree with Sommer that YA is a very good place to help teenagers explore sexuality.
Teenagers do not need to be exploring sexuallity. This is where a lot of trouble comes from. Sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy that they cannot handle. Reading a book isn't going to help them with that.

Which brings up more experience. I had a friend in school that got pregnant. Because she was so small, she gave birth to an adorable little boy who has half an arm. All because his parents couldn't keep it in their pants long enough to get through their teenage years, he'll have to live with that deformity for the rest of his life. That poor little baby. Not to mention whatever else might have been wrong with him that you couldn't see.

This is what people don't understand. And that bit about 'forbidden fruit'? Do we not remember what happened the LAST TIME someone ate some of that?
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 2:21 pm

Margo wrote:Edit: oops, I think I'm supposed to say self-published instead of indie. I wonder if I could popularize another cool term, like rogue author or renegade or ronin. ;)
I'm partial to guerilla. Independent asymmetric disestablishmentarianist publication insurgency.
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