Writing Sex Scenes

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Sommer Leigh
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 20th, 2011, 12:26 pm

Collectonian wrote:
Mira wrote:Although, I still, for the record, admire someone who can write a darn good sex scene. I can't do it. I can't write fight scenes either. The mechanics of it baffle me when it comes to writing. I'm not that aware of the physical universe - I tend to be be more intuitive than perceptive, so writing something physical is a real stretch for me.
Fight scenes drive me nuts! And several of my novels have them. They are a struggle for me because I can picture it in my head, even act it out to a degree, but writing it and describing it a way that is active, exciting, and appropriately detailed drives me nuts :-P
I think fight scenes would make for another excellent topic thread. They are very difficult for me to write too.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by oldhousejunkie » May 20th, 2011, 12:41 pm

Sommer Leigh wrote:Just a quick interjection because I don't want to derail the main thread because this is a very valid topic for writers, there is another more tense thread going on that can very quickly get away from everyone and I am going to strongly suggest that the conversation steer clear of personal sexual experiences and/or commentary on personal experiences should it come into conversation. I think in this particular thread, as it has already done, it is too easy for feelings to be hurt and comments misinterpreted.

Always good advice to remember-
Being in disagreement is fine but it is usually a good idea to end a particular thread of conversation when there is no middle ground to be found and all parties have had their say.

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I don't necessarily think that steering clear of personal experiences will keep these situations from happening. In fact, sharing personal experiences may help other readers/posters understand where that person is coming from. I don't know about anyone else, but my personal experiences figure into my writing, and therefore are valid.

I think what we need to steer clear of is psychoanalyzing or making comments about other people's experiences if we can't be in agreement. Forums are not a tool to force opinions on people--they are for the exchange of information. If you don't agree, don't say anything. If you absolutely need to remark, don't call that person out. And remember, no one can see what you really mean when you post on a forum (or e-mail for that matter). Perhaps I am overly careful, but I always go over my posts multiple times before posting and think, "Will this offend someone?"

This community has built a reputation for being helpful and non-snarky (yes, I made that word up), which is a massive accomplishment in the internet world. I have yet to visit a forum that is so nice. There are always people in this life that get their feelings hurt easily, and while it can be difficult to deal with them, we shouldn't denigrate them for being sensitive. Yes, sometimes people push the envelope, they have to say something in reply. But with that mind, I think the old adage "if you don't have anything nice to say" would apply.

Just my two cents.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by polymath » May 20th, 2011, 12:59 pm

One shortcoming I commonly encounter with fledgling fight scenes, I also encounter with sex scenes, is unsettled narrative point of view. I wonder who's viewpoint describes the scene when there are external perceptions looking in from the outside (narrator) awkwardly spliced into internal perceptions looking out from the inside (viewpoint character). It's a self-centric viewpoint frequently problematic from author surrogacy calling undue attention to itself.

An example;
She watched the sword glance from his shoulder plate as she ducked his sword thrust.

"Watched" and "as" are the culprits there. She's looking at herself in action and consciously performing noncontemporaneous and nonconcurrent actions. Narrative distance is wide open, not the best for action scenes, which should close narrative distance.

Needs more situation-appropriate sensation and introspection and emotion from the viewpoint character's immediate perspective. Or the narrator is the attitude holder who expresses commentary about the fight scene's actions, sensations, introspections, and emotions, though narrative distance cannot close as closely as through a viewpoint character's perspective.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by cheekychook » May 21st, 2011, 12:26 pm

Whenever I disappear for a week I miss all the good stuff. Sheesh! I need some sort of instant notification system or something!

It took me a long time to read through this whole thread. An awful lot of issues managed to get rolled into this conversation. I'm not surprised. Sex is a well-known polarizing topic.

I write commercial women's fiction with strong romantic overtones. Think Nicholas Sparks with more sarcasm and, yes, way more sex. The books are about my characters and their relationships....and they have sex. How and when they have sex, what they think about sex, how they feel about that sex, how they feel during that sex---it's all extremely important to the exploration of the individual characters and their relationship with one another. It's not there for shock value. It's not a plot device. It's as much a part of the detail and realism of the story as when I describe the smell of dinner cooking in the kitchen or the emotions felt during a crisis, or the tensed muscles that tighten during an argument. Sure, some of it is extremely sensual. Other times it's not, because it's not for the characters at that time. Sex can be good, bad, great, horrible, nervewracking, exciting, baffling, upsetting, overwhelming, poignant, carefree... And the people having it are not always in sync with one another. That's part of why it's worth exploring. It has meaning, in real life AND in books.

Now, I write relationship-based stories, so for my writing this is a constant truth. Of course there are some genres where a sex scene might be totally out of place or even completely inappropriate. Honestly, regardless of the genre, I hate sex scenes that are just randomly inserted (couldn't help myself, deepest apologies). If the sex scene doesn't move the plot along, or teach/show you something about the characters, cut it---just like you would any other scene that's not doing anything for your book. Sex scenes are no different from any other scenes---if done right they add to plot, emotional development and characterization. That's it. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that. At all.

Personally, I write a "heat level" that I'm comfortable reading. I can't stand when books spend 300 pages building up the tension between two characters and then when they finally get together there's a fade to black. Can't. Stand. It. I recently responded to a post about this on another blog and related it to any other kind of build up with a big letdown instead of follow through----would you ever spend 20 minutes telling someone about this great restaurant that you spent months trying to get a reservation at, tell them all about your date, what he/she wore, what you wore, what the menu looked like, what the food looked like then say "I took the first bite." And then STOP??? Why would you do all the lead up and then not tell them what the food tasted like, how it smelled, how good or disappointing it was? You wouldn't. You'd tell the some details because it would be relevant to the entire story you just spent all that time telling them. The same goes for sex scenes. In my opinion, of course.

Regarding YA novels and sex scenes, I've posted this before. I was an avid reader as a child and I learned more about sex from Judy Blume books than from anyone I actually knew. And I turned out great. (cough) Seriously, I read all those YA books and I rapidly moved on to Blume's adult novels and other books (Erica Jong, Philip Roth) including several classics (Lolita, Lady Chatterley)...guess what? They all have sex in them. And they were written (to varying degrees) a long time ago.

I have a really difficult time understanding why in today's literary world sex (of any detail) seems to be largely confined to either the romance/erotica genres or literary fiction. Very little commercial fiction "goes there" in any detail any more. Why is that? I have no idea.

I don't currently read a lot of YA novels, but I hope that sex continues to be explored in them in a manner that is helpful for the readers of that genre. Teenagers, whether they are having sex or not, are confronted with the topic and are biologically wired to think about it. That's a fact. If it's something they're dealing with shouldn't they be able to find books that deal with it, in realistic situations, involving characters their age? Isn't it better to have books geared toward them that frankly discuss situations they may encounter and feelings they may have rather than having them use TV/Movies or adult books (perhaps even books written specifically to titillate) in their attempt to get a handle on the things that are confusing/concerning/consuming them? Maybe it's just me, but I would rather kids have access to novels that are more likely to help them sort things out.

Sorry this post is all over the map, but this thread was all over the map by the time I got to it.

Oh, and regarding the personal issues---I've been a moderator on other boards, and that's a large part of the reason I like Nathan's forum so much. No personal attacks. It's really pretty simple. You can disagree about concepts as much as you want, just refrain from personal attacks. Not sure how to do that? Easy. Don't mention another poster's name or directly comment back to them unless you have something nice to say. It's okay to have views that are in opposition to someone else's---that's actually a good thing---express them to your heart's content---just leave the other person out of it. Focus on why you think what you think rather than why what someone else thinks is wrong. (climbing off soap box before I fall)
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Mira
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Mira » May 21st, 2011, 12:35 pm

Cheeky - I really like what you had to say. :)

Sommer - absolutely, I'll let you know after I finish it!

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by androidblues » May 21st, 2011, 12:36 pm

cheekychook wrote:(climbing off soap box before I fall)
Please, stay on the soap box. That was brilliant.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by cheekychook » May 21st, 2011, 1:48 pm

Thanks Mira and Androidblues. :)
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Woman » June 2nd, 2011, 7:59 am

sierramcconnell wrote:I used to write yaoi fanfiction for years. I'm totally not uncomfortable with writing sex scenes. :D

But I find them an unnecessary addition to novels. People know what happens, and most people don't want to see it. In fact, when it's added to a movie, most people I know go, "Ugh, do they have to put that in just to sell the movie?" or "Great, another sex scene".

They're unwanted and unneeded unless it's a romance novel. If I didn't come for the lovin's, I don't need to see it, thank you. :)
I am an avid writer of erotica. When it comes to sex scenes, I do enjoy writing them as well. For me, when I write a story that is not just a wham bam story, I write the story first. If the story makes me happy without the sex scenes, then I go back and write in the scenes. BUT the story must be able to stand on its own two feet, and the sex has to have purpose.

Yes. Sex sells. My blog is a prime example of it.

For no matter how much people don't want to see thoughts of a sexual nature, it is only human nature to want to know how other people "do it" or think about it.

And for the people who have been wondering how to get started writing them, all I did was jump feet first into an erotic chat room, and cybered. Typing explicit details to another human being, gave me a feeling of power I never knew I existed. And I liked it. Then after reading countless people's stories, I decided to give it a go and write my own. And from the reviews, the hits on my blog, the comments on my blog... I think it is safe to say I have some talent about it all.

Hope this helps.
w

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Chantelle.S. » June 4th, 2011, 5:45 pm

I think that a guide on 'how to write good sex scenes' would be more helpful than tips on getting over your discomfort whilst writing them. That's just my personal opinion. I've only ever skim-wrote my sex scenes eg. 'then they did it and that was the end of it', because the scenes that I have written in more creative detail come off either as rape (although, that might just be me) or typical porn. I have no real experience writing proper sex scenes, but the only thing about them that makes me uncomfortable is the thought of sharing them with anyone because I feel the piece always comes off inadequate. I feel that once I have the 'recipe' for writing it, I won't be uncomfortable writing it at all.

But with some of the earlier topics that were broached, I also feel that sex scenes really have no place in YA lit. Despite YA novels often being spammed to the brim with sexual tension (and the thought that they ended up 'doing it' in some novels), it is no place for the full-blown thing. It's ignorant to assume that most teenagers have become active and will enjoy reading those scenes, because there is a multitude of teenagers who still hold some manner of innocence. Throwing a sex scene in their faces can't be justified. I also assumed YA to be the 16+ teenagers. I recall reading a book for YA when I was 12. I ADORED the characters but I didn't catch on what was really going on through half the book. All I knew was that the story was unique and it stood out to me. A few years later I reread the same book again, and I found myself going 'Ohhhhhhhh' and 'was that really in here when I first read it?' and 'whoa, that's hawt sizzle sizzle damn!', which was intentional because the book was aimed at my age range THEN.

If you want good sex scenes, that's what Mills & Boon are for, and they're all Adult books for a reason.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by JulieCJ » June 6th, 2011, 12:14 am

Chantelle:

What you are describing in your post is discomfort in writing sex scenes!

Practice, practice, practice.

Do you think it will magically just 'come to you' and you'll be good at it?

Sex scenes don't have to come across as rape. If it's rape you want, then write a rape scene, but if you want a loving sex scene between 2 people who are very much in love, then that's what you write.

So, practice, practice, practice. You should be 'practicing writing' anyway, so why not devote some of the time to practicing sex scenes?

Have a good day.

Julei

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Falls Apart » June 6th, 2011, 11:13 am

What you are describing in your post is discomfort in writing sex scenes!
. . . No. No, it's not. It's exactly what the poster said: she would rather have tips on writing actual sex scenes. Writing sex scenes are really like writing anything else. If all my dialogue is stilted, that doesn't mean I'm uncomfortable writing dialogue, and it doesn't mean that all I need to do is "practice, practice, practice," although I'm sure that would help. I still would need to read successfully crafted dialogue and get advice from writers whose dialogue I admire. It's entirely possible for somebody who is perfectly comfortable with sex scenes to end up with unsuccessful scenes simply because they don't know how. And practice won't cure everything. Virgins, in my opinion, generally shouldn't write sex scenes unless they've read a lot of them, or else you end up with the fanfic authors who think vodka, honey, and glue can be used as lube. Which is . . . disgusting. To say the least.

And also, I'm not sure whether or not its intentional, but your messages might be a bit better recieved if they didn't come off as condescending. No offense, but it does sound like that a lot of the time, and people can get upset if your posts have that kind of tone.

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Margo » June 6th, 2011, 1:08 pm

Falls Apart wrote:...you end up with the fanfic authors who think vodka, honey, and glue can be used as lube.

Okay, we sooo need a thread for Monday morning quotes, the kind of thread where we can post quotes like this that will give people a giggle if they are having a hard time coming back from their weekend.
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Mike R » June 6th, 2011, 8:22 pm

JulieCJ wrote:Chantelle:

So, practice, practice, practice. You should be 'practicing writing' anyway, so why not devote some of the time to practicing sex scenes?

Have a good day.

Julei
The 'Have a good day' is superfluous. You have written the Rx for a good day. A fantastic day even.

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Mira
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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Mira » June 12th, 2011, 8:38 pm

Sommer, I wanted to let you know that I read the Regency Romance book you recommended.

WOWZZER.

My goodness. There was one scene where he kissed her on the wrist, I almost couldn't read it.

Sigh.

Thanks for the recommendation. :D

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Re: Writing Sex Scenes

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 13th, 2011, 1:29 pm

Mira wrote:Sommer, I wanted to let you know that I read the Regency Romance book you recommended.

WOWZZER.

My goodness. There was one scene where he kissed her on the wrist, I almost couldn't read it.

Sigh.

Thanks for the recommendation. :D
I know right!!!! Right after the wrist kiss I like, gasped for breath because I didn't realize I'd been literally holding it. I had to put the book down and walk away for a moment. My husband was all like, "Um, you ok?" and I was like, "I'M FINE. You wouldn't understand dear! Just need to get some air!"
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