Writing Sex Scenes

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polymath
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 6:21 pm

Mira wrote:I think you might consider being a writer. You have a way with words.
I do have extensive vocabularies, reading, writing, and speaking and rhetoric. I took up editing to further my writing ambitions. Otherwise, reading all the dryest transcripts I do would be a tedious chore. A road paving contract dispute in today's queue. Hundreds of not very sexy pages. A C-note workday though. None of the interested parties know I'm peripherally involved, working in the obscura background. Which suits me just fine guerilla-wise.
Margo wrote:Oooh, that has such a revolutionary romanticism to it!
Nice, Margo, that's the nuance I was going for. I bought a black leather jacket earlier in the week (thrift store find) to go with my black polo shirts and black pants and black shoes and socks and pending black caubeen. (Irish beret.) Though a black mesh fedora with a yellow silk rose in the hatband does as well. Yellow rose signifying unconditional friendship. I look like your typical hard-boiled revolutionary jaded cynic all done up to the nines. A timely addition to my period costume repertoire. Not too sexy though.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by androidblues » May 19th, 2011, 6:24 pm

Margo wrote:
Watcher55 wrote:I will say, I won’t recommend any novel with graphic sex to a teenager except to warn them it’s in there if I’m asked.
LOL. You'd probably be better off saying the book is boring. 'Warning' the average teen that a book contains graphic sex is as good as putting it in their hands.
Very true. Many a time I've gone searching for a book/movie when I'm told that I can't read/watch it. Hasn't damaged me yet, but who knows. Maybe I'll turn into a raging nymphomaniac later on in life.

The sex that I've read in YA is very mild unless you're talking about John Green or Jennifer Echols. And even then, it's nothing damaging. I remember the outrage over Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Reading quivering manpole was quite awkward, but honestly, not damaging. And if I got the innuendo, well, I understood what was happening. Someone who isn't mature enough to read the book wouldn't get it anyway.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Falls Apart » May 19th, 2011, 6:35 pm

@JulieCJ - Just because Sierra believes in keeping sex private doesn't mean she's been victimized in the past, and even if she has, why on Earth would it be helpful to her to bring that up? And it definitely doesn't make her a homophobe. A guy I know at school who brags to complete strangers about his sex life and interrogates other people about theirs declared, after finding out I'm bisexual, stated that he wanted "nothing to do with me". Of course, that didn't stop him from whispering "gay" to me all through the next period. And one of my friends, a very conservative Christian, honestly couldn't care less. In fact, Sierra has posted multiple times in other forums about same sex relationships she's writing about. Bigotry is an entirely different issue.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Watcher55 » May 19th, 2011, 6:36 pm

Margo wrote:
Watcher55 wrote:I will say, I won’t recommend any novel with graphic sex to a teenager except to warn them it’s in there if I’m asked.
LOL. You'd probably be better off saying the book is boring. 'Warning' the average teen that a book contains graphic sex is as good as putting it in their hands.
I can see myself using that dodge.

Is it wrong to warn a teen about graphic sex in a book that doesn't have it, just because I think they should read it?

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by maybegenius » May 19th, 2011, 6:39 pm

Hoo yeah, Kick-Ass was good. Some of the violence got to me (I tend to be a lot more squeamish about violence than I am about sex, har har har), but it was so well done.

Well, this thread certainly took off after my post yesterday, wow. I'm getting a little unnerved by all the talk of sex and morality going on. Sexual choices are just that: choices. Whether we choose to be celibate or sexually active or have sex for love or for pleasure or not at all, it's all really beside the point. I'd kind of appreciate if we could avoid placing implications on one another's sexual choices. We can all list anecdotal evidence about why our sex life (or lack thereof) is the way it is, and it would all be personal and equally acceptable. I was under the impression that this thread was intended to discuss the pros and cons of writing sex scenes in literature, not to place value judgments on what sort of sexuality is acceptable for anyone but ourselves. Ahem. Anyway.

In my mind, writing a sex scene is similar to writing any other scene of daily life. As someone said earlier in the thread (I forget who, I'm sorry): it's always about whether the scene is necessary to the story. If a sex scene functions as a metaphor, or a character growth period, or a release, or a bonding moment between two characters, then it will likely work. Sex is, in itself, a symbol. It's life, it's connection, it's passion. There is no other way for two human beings to be more intimately "one" and to create life (short of modern and futuristic science). It pulls us toward one another chemically and spiritually. So, can it be a powerful and useful tool to build a scene around? Yes, absolutely.

If the scene adds nothing to the narrative, than it should be cut, same as we'd do to any other scene that didn't serve a purpose. Not because it's a sex scene in particular, but because it takes away from the flow of the story. Unless one is writing erotica with the express intention of titillating their audience, there's usually not much to be gained from a purely mechanical sex scene. Just like there wouldn't be much to gain from having a scene of a character eating a meal or taking a shower without any intent to add to the story.

In closing, it would also be just super if we could avoid assuming someone has or hasn't been sexually victimized.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 6:49 pm

Watcher55 wrote:I can see myself using that dodge.

Is it wrong to warn a teen about graphic sex in a book that doesn't have it, just because I think they should read it?
I once told an eleven-year old avid fisherperson that Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was the greatest novel about fishing ever written. I was asked what's the point of reading anyway. If you can't be fishing you can read about it. It didn't take the middle grade reader long to delve deeply into fishing genre, ready now for Moby Dick coming up in advanced placement high school English literature, though previously a reluctant reader.

Yes, telling a teen a novel contains graphic sex scenes when it doesn't might be wrong. That kind of manipulation backfires, inciting at least a betrayal of already attenuated trust of adults.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by maybegenius » May 19th, 2011, 6:50 pm

HOLY POSTS.

RE: graphic sex in YA, it's pretty rare. Many YA sex scenes tend to be off-page or happen in a fade-to-black sort of context. Those that occur on-page usually focus more on the emotional impact of the act than the physical goings-on. In the case that an act is actually described (as in some of John Green's novels, mentioned above by andriodblues), it's typically pretty brief and (in Green's case) often serves the purpose of teen awkwardness, angst, and first experiences. The only YA novel I can really think of that both described the act of sex and the physical sensations of it is Forever by Judy Blume, which is pretty out of date. I dunno. I read a LOT of YA literature and I find most of the sex to be pretty PG-13. Not all, but most.

And yeah, though I'm pretty sure you were joking, lying to a teen about a book's content in order to get them to read it will probably just undermine your authority in their eyes and make them annoyed ;)
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Watcher55
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Watcher55 » May 19th, 2011, 6:55 pm

polymath wrote:
Watcher55 wrote:I can see myself using that dodge.

Is it wrong to warn a teen about graphic sex in a book that doesn't have it, just because I think they should read it?
I once told an eleven-year old avid fisherperson that Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was the greatest novel about fishing ever written. I was asked what's the point of reading anyway. If you can't be fishing you can read about it. It didn't take the middle grade reader long to delve deeply into fishing genre, ready now for Moby Dick coming up in advanced placement high school English literature, though previously a reluctant reader.

Yes, telling a teen a novel contains graphic sex scenes when it doesn't might be wrong. That kind of manipulation backfires, inciting at least a betrayal of already attenuated trust of adults.
:} I hope everyone else saw my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, the worst thing a teacher can do is lie to a kid.

I'm not, however, above the kind of pretty trickery you used on your fisherperson.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2011, 6:57 pm

JulieCJ wrote:You'd be surprised what you can learn about your characters by doing a sex scene (even if you never include it in your book).
Now that's an interesting idea that hasn't occurred to me before. I can think of several characters for whom this would be a useful exercise during plotting-stage character development. I might have to add this to by character templates.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 6:58 pm

Like J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Graphic near sex scene with a prostitute and a pimp in a seedy hotel. It's just off kilter enough to seem as though first-person narrator and attitude holder Holden Caulfield made it up and wants readers to believe he's a sex machine.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » May 19th, 2011, 7:01 pm

polymath wrote:I bought a black leather jacket earlier in the week (thrift store find) to go with my black polo shirts and black pants and black shoes and socks and pending black caubeen. (Irish beret.) Though a black mesh fedora with a yellow silk rose in the hatband does as well. Yellow rose signifying unconditional friendship. I look like your typical hard-boiled revolutionary jaded cynic all done up to the nines. A timely addition to my period costume repertoire. Not too sexy though.

Stylin, polymath, I like it.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by sierramcconnell » May 19th, 2011, 7:04 pm

JulieCJ wrote:Sierra, Sierra, Sierra . . . *sigh*
You obviously are not a romance writer. And, you don't understand HUMAN sex, either. "Only so many ways to have sex?" PUL-EEZE! I've been married for going on 43 years now, and I'm here to tell you, the variations are darn near endless . . .
I really am having a hard time understanding why you are SO VEHEMENTLY ANTI-SEX. I have to assume that perhaps you have been victimized in some way because of it, or, maybe it's some religion thing - but your personal problems with sex don't mean you have to deny everyone else their reading enjoyment.
Romance novels are based on the relationship between the lovers (not always male-female - which may open up another bag of worms for you). In a romance novel, the sex NEEDS TO BE THERE. Real-life married couples DO NOT GO THROUGH LIFE WITHOUT SEX . . . Couples in romance novels are like real-life couples - and nothing will change that. There are countless plot twists, many of which end with a 'reconciliation.' And, the sex scenes shed light on the relationship - good, bad, deep, shallow, jealous, trusting, loving, etc., etc., etc. And that's just the sensual sex. Then there's the rough, out-of-control sex, or even deviant sex or rape. There is nothing else that can take the place of sex scenes to accomplish the goals of sex scenes.
Other genre's focus on the 'object,' the killer, the espionage, the car, the building, the 'whatever.' Sex may or may not happen and if it does, it's only a sub-plot, at best. Those books work within their own genre, and sex isn't the focus. In romance books, sex is very often the primary focus. That's just how it is. The romance genre is not going away because YOU have a problem with sex.
My blog post - which seems to have earned your ire - isn't about the morality of sex, in any event. That's entirely up to the individual writer. The post is about the mechanics of writing a sex scene, should the need for one come up. I did not say every writer HAD to use sex scenes. That's ridiculous. The content is up to the individual writer. I just know that a lot of writers are not comfortable writing about sex - and, in most cases, it's more about the environment they grew up in than anything else. It was in my case. So, I recommend that these folks practice writing sex scenes, just as they practice writing in general. It was just that practice that helped me overcome my own inhibitions about writing sex scenes.
By being so anti-sex, you have effectively closed the door to a crucial part of the writing experience for yourself. You'd be surprised what you can learn about your characters by doing a sex scene (even if you never include it in your book). Things are said and done (other than the sex) during that time that wouldn't normally happen in a straight-laced and sexless everyday life. Suddenly, your characters become more real - for you, and for your readers. By refusing to utilize sex scenes when your muse drags you kicking and screaming to that point, you've destroyed your story! Your readers will, from the lead-up, expect a sex scene and when they don't get it, they will be greatly disappointed and may even abandon the story.
You may not like it but sex sells books, especially romance books, but others as well. It's true that it's a reflection on the deterioration of the human condition in today's world, but from a marketing stand point, if you're writing a romance novel, you really should be good at doing sex scenes. You, as one person, no matter how hard you try, are NOT going to change that.
Stop looking at this like a morality thing and look at it as a writer who needs to be ready for ANYTHING your muse presents!

You know what, shove it. You've obviously not read a word of what I've wrote.

I said several times I wrote romance before. Several sex scenes until I was sick of it. Most of them yaoi. Do a web search.

That is gay porn, baby.

And to those who say not all yaoi is gay porn? Then it's considered shonen-ai. Learn your terms.

I have not been victimized in that way, but I know people who have. I have been victimized in other ways, yes. And I really don't think that's the point here.

Before I get anymore upset, because I will say right now I am more livid than I have ever been before at you people, I'm going to log off and go away.

Earlier I PMed about getting my account deleted and I'm still very firm in that. I'm sure that'll make a lot of people happy since no one has been very pleased with me here and there are certain specific people (Margo) that I know dislike me enough to like to pick pick pick until I'm riled every single time I make a comment.

I can't keep doing this. Every time I comment on something it's always turned around to make it look like I'm the bad guy.

I'm done. /DONE/.
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The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 19th, 2011, 7:06 pm

Watcher55 wrote::} I hope everyone else saw my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, the worst thing a teacher can do is lie to a kid.

I'm not, however, above the kind of pretty trickery you used on your fisherperson.
I guess my "might be wrong" didn't come across as the equally tongue-in-cheek understatement I intended. If that's what it takes to indoctrinate a strongly reluctant reader to reading, go at it I say. I've used that technique to illustrate a point about gullibility and blindly following maladjusted acquaintances' leads. Message, think for yourself, even with the people you can trust, like me.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Watcher55 » May 19th, 2011, 7:11 pm

So what about writing while having graphic sex?

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Cookie » May 19th, 2011, 7:15 pm

Watcher55 wrote:So what about writing while having graphic sex?

If you can multi-task sure, why not?

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