Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing Tips: Let's Talk About Sex

Happy belated new year everyone!
Sorry to take so long between posts, I had a ton of posts I was going to write, one about preparing for Christmas, one about new years, one about my current writing project, one about fantasy football (I won two of my leagues!), I had other ones about football, about the Huskers, the Minnesota Vikings, but it all ended up being put to the side because of the holidays and familial obligations. I will say my current novel is going really well when I find time to write. But let’s get onto the main topic: SEX
In particular I am talking about sex scenes. Scenes where your characters get intimate can be really hard to write, but sometimes they need to be written. I decided to do some research to figure out the best way to write them, and I am pretty happy with my results. Here are six rules I have garnered in my research into the subject.
1.       Know your audience/know your genre. Treat it like you do other aspects of writing for your audience. This goes back to being well read in your genre. What are other bestselling authors doing? For example I have yet to read an epic fantasy that talks about “throbbing members”. When you finally get published your editor will probably weigh in on the matter. Remember they are the expert in what sells in your genre, and give their suggestions a try.
2.       Write what you are comfortable with. If writing this kind of stuff makes you totally uncomfortable then it will show in your writing, and do your best to avoid it.
3.       Avoid crude terms whenever possible. Try to use metaphors, flowery terms, etc. to describe what is going on. Consider these two lines “he stuck his dong in her va-jay-jay” or “he entered her womanhood”. Neither is a great example but which is going to be less distracting?
4.       Use the same rules you would for a fight scene. This one may sound weird but I have a few rules that I use when I am writing a fight scene that transition to love scenes pretty well. First do not give a play by play. This will get boring and tedious to read after awhile, plus with a love scene it will start to sound a little silly. “He felt his passion building…” can replace an entire paragraph of the love scene play by play. The second fight scene rule I have is that the fight should be more than just a fight. It should develop the characters and/or advance the plot and/or resolve a conflict and/or add a whole new conflict to the story. This is important for love scenes too. Don’t just have sex in the book to have it in the book. Make sure it advances the story. Your readers are pretty smart people and they will be able to tell if you just add a love scene in to spice things up.
5.       Make sure the scene reflects your character. The Joker from Batman is not going to have the same love scene as Romeo from Romeo and Juliet.  
6.        Heterosexual  characters who have anal sex are villains. This one kind of surprised me but apparently it is pretty standard. Like the good guys wearing white hats in westerns. I have heard this from a number of romance novel readers. Which makes me thinks those romance novels might be more interesting than I ever gave them credit for.
The way this works out, at least for me (and remember I am writing epic fantasy intended for an adult audience) is that I write the begining of the scene, a little kissing, touching, etc. and then break away. I do this for a few reasons: Fantasy, at least what I read, tends to avoid explicit love scenes, in fact most of the books I read break away a little earlier than I do. I stick with it a little longer than other authors because I want to make sure the readers get a feel for what is happening, is it angry, is it loving, is it exciting, is it funny, sex can be all of those things in real life and I feel that a reader should know the mood of the scene, but getting really explicit will not advance the story in better than what I am writing. If you have any tips for love scenes leave them in the comments below. Please try to keep it PG-13 or cleaner.


1 comment:

  1. I find myself leaning toward #2 more often than not, simply because it's not my forte. In most cases, I find that sex scenes can be "implied." Write stuff leading up to it, or suggestive of what happens, so those who know about such things can imagine it for themselves, while those who don't (or don't want to) can still enjoy the story and glaze over the lust.

    Heinlein got pretty raunchy in his later works, but even he skipped over sex scene for the most part, just implying all the relationships (the only time I recall him getting explicit about the act was in "I Will Fear No Evil," which was his weakest book, in my opinion).

    I think the second rule from #4 is especially important. While reading and editing stories, I've noticed some writers have what I've come to dub the "R-Rated 80's Syndrome." It seems like almost every R-rated movie from the early 1980's had a sex scene, whether it was needed or not. Hollywood shoved them in there just because they could, and in many cases it just doesn't fit (and it prevents me from showing some really cool movies to my kids).

    By the way, I hope you're considering the invitation I sent you through the PHP forum. I know you're busier than ever now, but it would be great to see more of your work and get it into print.