Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Let's Write About Sex

    Hey all,

    How do you like your sex? Do you want all the slippery details or carefully worded suggestions of the action?  I like details but not everyone does. One only has to look at romance to see variation in our tastes. At one end of the spectrum the door closes and the book ends, the other, the book opens with a coffee table orgasm. What’s a writer to do?

    I say, write what you like to read. You’ll be more comfortable with it and you’ll know what to call the pieces and parts. That’s a big concern. Cock, shaft, member, manhood, himself, what do you call it? Female anatomy poses a similar problem. Your choice of names plays a big role in the tone of the scene. The nature of the scene dictates some of the choices. Hot monkey love calls for more vulgarity than the gentle bedding of a lover after a romantic candle lit dinner. Not that the scene can’t change as it progresses. Characters are only human and sometimes get carried away by the moment.

    That’s an important point. Characters ARE human. For the most part, your characters will be narrating the action. How would they describe it? Not how would they describe it to their mother? How would they describe it in their mind? What are their thoughts? How interesting would it be if your prim and proper heroine thought, “Yes, yes, shove it in, you big burly stud.” in the middle of it all. (Anyone wants to use that line, take it, it’s a gift. ;) )

    Now we’ve hit on the most important reason for writing sex; you can use it to give the reader important insight into your characters. The calculating become impetuous. The bold become timid. The reserved become wanton. Normally hidden character traits can be revealed and explored during sex. You can use those traits later to justify some unexpected action.

    You can also use sex as a motivation. Once a person has been intimate with another, their relationship changes. They can become dangerously jealous or overly protective. You can turn cowards into heroes with sex. You can pit friends and siblings against one another. You can incite murder and betrayal. You can inspire greatness, forge alliances, topple governments or conquer the universe with sex. Sex is powerful. But for it to be all that it can be, ya gotta write it.

    Long, long ago, in a coffee shop not so far away, I had a protagonist going along with a dangerous plan because he was attracted to a girl, maybe even falling in love with her. Her motivation was helping the creatures they had encountered, his was helping and protecting her. My critique partners weren’t buying it because he’d only known her a couple days. “He could die,” they said. Sex to the rescue. I wrote my first sex scene and his motivation was no longer in doubt. They’d had sex, he thought he was in love, he would go along to protect her.

    However, the scene, in the opinion of one partner, was purple, whatever that means. So I rewrote it. Made it more detail oriented and submitted it again. The critiques I got on it were very short, punctuated by pauses, and accompanied by pink faces. Exactly what I was going for. One more reason to write sex; the fun of it. I still have that scene, maybe I’ll post it in my stories tab.


  1. Ha, you can keep the line. :P

    Great post. I knew when I started writing my novel I was going to include sex scenes, even though I hadn't ever written them before. And I'll tell you, it was tough. (I won't say hard).

    I think I rewrote the first sex scene four or five times before it dawned on me that it was the character narrating the event (it's first person) and it should be told from her emotional reaction. Duh. The scene went from being a a description of movements to a revelation of her insecurities and desires. I'm finally comfortable with the scene and the level of intimacy in it. Big learning curve there for me.

  2. That's the fun of writing sex; it's all in the characters head. I have a crazy girl, totally nuts and I've been in her head through some sexual encounters. Different gender and a whack job, that was a lot of fun.

  3. Great observations! You don't necessarily need to write explicit sex scenes for the change in relationship to mean a great deal to the relationship. And I'd never really thought about how my characters having sex changes things for them--rather changes their attitudes towards one another. A great characterization tool!

  4. "Characters are human." See that's the problem with the romance genre these past few years; the male MCs aren't human. They're vampires, werewolves, and in one case, a dragon. I'm still trying to figure out how one has sex with a dragon. The anatomy is all wrong.

  5. @Diana "I'm still trying to figure out how one has sex with a dragon. The anatomy is all wrong."

    This cracked me up. It's also when someone in my crit group would say "Just make it work. If your writing is good enough, you can make it work" which, I guess is usually true.

    I, however, also go for the two-legged hero. They have to at least be in humanoid form most of the time. LOL