Litopia

We’re delighted you’re here! You’re just a few clicks away from joining the ‘net’s oldest community for writers… and certainly the friendliest. Click the “Register” button to create a free account. See you in the Colony!

  • Clichés & Tropes! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! Share your opinion in the latest Craft Chat, live now until Saturday

The perils of writing about sex

Writers' Touchstones...

Advice for new writers

Status
Not open for further replies.

Paul Whybrow

Full Member
LV
0
 
An article in today's Guardian had me pondering the place of sexual activity in my novels.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/20...ree-generations-reveal-pitfalls-and-pleasures

I haven't written many sex scenes in my short stories, novellas and novels, though to my amusement a volume of erotic verse that I compiled from saucy verses I'd written has now been downloaded 2,000 times as a free ebook on Smashwords—four times more than the next most popular title.

I've no prudery about writing on sex, but with psychological thrillers unless the plot is driven by sex crimes, it's reckoned to be an unnecessary distraction to allude to the love and sex lives of the detectives and villains.

I included one bizarre sexual interlude in my first novel, using a paraphilia that most people wouldn't know existed. This was done partly for humour, though while I was writing it I thought that the reader might wonder if this was my kink!

It isn't, and nor am I interested in the gay BDSM sex that propels some of the action in my second novel, a prequel to the first. In this, the main baddy is a gay, manipulative narcissist who sexually dominates his underlings while running a legitimate luxury car business and illegal drug and weapon smuggling and human trafficking operations. I wrote a sex scene in his dungeon recently, that felt about as erotic as hitting my thumb with a hammer to me, but which some readers might be turned on by. I did it to show the dynamic of his gang, how they relate to one another under his dominion.

I run the risk of alienating some readers by making my baddy gay and a thoroughly nasty dominant master, as well as having folk think I'm like this!

Does writing about sex cause my fellow Colonists any problems?
(Carol Rose: you have a Get Out of Jail Free card already printed).

20150808_bkp516.jpg
 

Bluma Bezbroda

Basic
LV
0
 
The sex scenes in my book are my biggest vulnerability. I'm most self-conscious about them, and it takes the most of my courage to show them to any reader. Because I know it extremely difficult to write a good sex scene, to make it not vulgar/disgusting but also not boring (tasteful yet exciting, as my partner elegantly put it). Therefore, I try to learn from the best- I collect and read erotic books (Victorian erotic novels are my favorite kind). I have already earned the fame of a local pornographer among my family and friends :D

This being said about the technicalities, there is also the meaningfulness of sex acts. As you said about your character, being the "S" in BDSM can indicate the narcissistic, manipulative character of your the antagonist (DISCLAIMER- I am fully aware that dominant partners in BDSM relationships don't have to be, and usually are not, assholes). In my MS I put a character behaves as a sexual predator towards women into a passive role in his gay relationship. I did not plan it very consciously, to be honest, but it came to me later that it's an interesting feature in the context of the whole story.
 

Nicole Wilson

Basic
LV
0
 
Since I write/read thrillers, there's no need for me to write sex scenes, nor would I want to. That's not something I'd be comfortable with, plus, since my books are far from romance, it's not required. I haven't yet, but it's possible in the future I might *hint* that my characters had sex, but I'll never show it as that's not even something I feel comfortable reading.
 

Carol Rose

Basic
LV
0
 
I don't think a sex scene has to be in any novel unless (a) the author wants it in there; or (b) the author wants it in there. ;) Even in the romance genre there are what's called sweet romance novels (at least here in the US that's what they're called) where the sex scenes are non-existent or they fade to black, and there's a market for them.

The only thing that makes me roll my eyes is when authors toss the scenes in their stories gratuitously. Give me a few scenes WHEN they make SENSE in the story. But to simply drop the scenes in there, one after the other, and ignore any rhyme or reason of WHY is not good writing. For example, when an author has the characters in a crisis situation, like fleeing a bad guy for their lives, and they decide to stop and have sex. Right. Cause that's the first and only thing on MY mind when my life is in danger. :rolleyes:
 

Carol Rose

Basic
LV
0
 
As to the article, gotta disagree that comic sex is easier to write than romantic sex. ;) Not saying my characters never laugh during sex or have fun with one another - they do - but I think romantic sex is easy to write. *shrugs* Guess I'm the exception. ;)
 

Chase Gamwell

Basic
LV
0
 
Writing sex is something that I take very seriously. I don't include it in my work very often, but when I do, I try to make sure that the actual scene fits well within the context of the story AND makes sense for the characters involved. Past that, I'm very conscious about how detailed the scene is. I don't want to go too far and have it be graphic, but don't necessarily want it to be so clinical it seems robotic. (I've done research on the subject...something I never thought I'd ever do...)

Like anything else, I'm guessing it's a learning process...it takes a while to get everything just right.
 
J

Jason Byrne

Guest
The series I'm writing now has no nudity or sex, and only lone scenes of passionate kissing maybe once a book. It's a stylistic choice to try to create an atmosphere of chivalrous romance.

A book I was working on before that had nudity in rather a cultural context, such as desert climates, and even a Romanesque orgy, but that was essentially background to the description of the separate action of the scene. In that case, there was no sex actually described for reasons of a very particular plot device.

The series upon which I worked before that, in college, was horribly sexual — with ubiquitous scenes of explicit sex ranging from fiery and passionate, to familiar and humorous with laughing while hopping about the bedroom trying to pull of socks, to new and clumsy and exciting, on down to the end of grotesque, torturous, and disgusting. Those books were Rome meets Game of Thrones meets Saw, and I always chose anatomical precision over gentle euphemism.
But I also researched actual police photographs where possible of horrific deaths to better describe the results of battles between sorcerers swinging energy lashes or blasting each other with lightning or setting each other on fire.
I also abandoned those books two millions words in, because they became too much. I just woke up one day, realized I'd passed a sign saying "now leaving good taste," and had continued driving for months or years afterward and it was starting to pull me apart, and never opened the story back up.
 

Chase Gamwell

Basic
LV
0
 
At least you realized it and came back from the brink. There are some authors that take it too far and leave it there to rot. When I was younger, I remember reading Stephen R. Donaldson. He's written two real series of note: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (one and two and he just finished three) and The Gap series. While both Thomas Covenant trilogies are pretty good, there are some things in there that are definitely far past the "now leaving good taste" sign. Literally the first thing the main character does in the first book of the first trilogy is commit rape... I think the only redeeming quality of those two trilogies I've read is that he make sure you hate the characters for the reprehensible things they've done while painting them as the heroes of the work.

I didn't even make it past the first half of the first book in The Gap series because the whole thing was basically a chain of rape torture scenes that really didn't sit well with me.
 

Chase Gamwell

Basic
LV
0
 
I completely agree and in no way was I trying to posit rape as equivalent to sex. I just have a hard time with authors that write it, or include it, so casually in their work. It also seemed relevant. I apologize for any offense.
 

Carol Rose

Basic
LV
0
 
I completely agree and in no way was I trying to posit rape as equivalent to sex. I just have a hard time with authors that write it, or include it, so casually in their work.

I agree, Chase. Rape for the sake of shock seems to be the norm these days. A Song of Ice and Fire, anyone??? I mean seriously... Then again, one could easily argue those scenes serve a purpose. They show the dynamics of the cultures. So there you go.
 

Bluma Bezbroda

Basic
LV
0
 
@Chase Gamwell no worries I didn't mean that at all. There is nothing offensive in your post :) I was talking about a general, terrible trend in literature (especially "B-sort"). Which is, of course, just a sad reflection of what we understand as sexual behavior in real life.

@Carol Rose that's why I stopped watching the GOT series (I didn't even attempt to read the books). Yes, women were always abused/disrespected in the past, rape was common, very true, much insightful. But do we really have to celebrate that in a multi-million-dollar production? Also, I have a strong impression, that if you'd take out all the gruesome rape and murder out of it, the number of people watching it would shrink to nonsignificance. So now, apologies from me for all GOT fans, if we have any here :D
 

Carol Rose

Basic
LV
0
 
@Chase Gamwell no worries I didn't mean that at all. There is nothing offensive in your post :) I was talking about a general, terrible trend in literature (especially "B-sort"). Which is, of course, just a sad reflection of what we understand as sexual behavior in real life.

@Carol Rose that's why I stopped watching the GOT series (I didn't even attempt to read the books). Yes, women were always abused/disrespected in the past, rape was common, very true, much insightful. But do we really have to celebrate that in a multi-million-dollar production? Also, I have a strong impression, that if you'd take out all the gruesome rape and murder out of it, the number of people watching it would shrink to nonsignificance. So now, apologies from me for all GOT fans, if we have any here :D

Yeah. I did wonder about that, too, as I read the books. I mean I fell in love with the story arcs and some of the characters in the series watching the HBO production, and then I read the books so I was prepared, but jiminy crickets... like every other damn scene a woman is being belittled, hit, raped, or just overall treated like shit. I needed a shower and a serious hug from my hubby every time I finished reading.
 
M

Madeleine Conway

Guest
I did try writing sex scenes for an early novel, but mercifully, the editor cut them. I started out sober, but put away the better part of a bottle of wine. It became easier to write in some ways, but when I read it back the next morning, I really wasn't sure what was going on, what with typos and general confusion. I think the hero ended up with at least one extra hand/arm.
 

Paul Whybrow

Full Member
LV
0
 
I did try writing sex scenes for an early novel, but mercifully, the editor cut them. I started out sober, but put away the better part of a bottle of wine. It became easier to write in some ways, but when I read it back the next morning, I really wasn't sure what was going on, what with typos and general confusion. I think the hero ended up with at least one extra hand/arm.

What was he doing with it?!
 

Carol Rose

Basic
LV
0
 
I did try writing sex scenes for an early novel, but mercifully, the editor cut them. I started out sober, but put away the better part of a bottle of wine. It became easier to write in some ways, but when I read it back the next morning, I really wasn't sure what was going on, what with typos and general confusion. I think the hero ended up with at least one extra hand/arm.
LOL!! Remember THE COVER??? http://christinadodd.writerspace.com/christina-dodd-and-the-infamous-three-armed-cover/

By the way, LOVE your new profile pic!! :)
 
A

Alistair Roberts

Guest
I wonder if the third arm was deliberate? Even bad publicity is good publicity they say? lol
 

Patricia D

Basic
LV
0
 
What Carol Rose says - if it's part of the story and you're comfortable writing it ...
I've written about desire more than about sex, because I write mysteries and desire is a great motive for all sorts of things you really shouldn't do. In the second two books of my trilogy, my main character has a (not explicit) sex life. This makes my adult children a tad uncomfortable (apparently they though their father and I found them under cabbage leaves) and got me invited onto a panel about sex in mysteries at last year's Left Coast Crime.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Writers' Touchstones...

Advice for new writers

Top