Friday, June 09, 2006

Love Potion # 9...

Blogger interupted a wonderful discussion yesterday.
Thank you all very, very much for your contributions.
Comments raised all sorts of questions about sex scenes.
The Lady with the Fan mentioned "foreplay."
Usually, pant-pant anticipation is handled quite well in fiction.
Often it's the rendition of the actual finale that is f....excuse me, described in tired euphemisms and dismissed in a few sentences.
As well as any attention to how men feel or react at that ( word deleted) moment. They've taken to roaring in the last few examples I've read. No heroes ever have bad sex, either.
There's the question of whether dialogue is necessary/sexy/or simply a distraction.
There's the question of "afterplay."
Usually handled ho-hum so the plot can continue with shattering glass, telephone calls, snores, minute examination of manly chests by the heroines or the similar examination of mounds or mons or whatever of the heroine which usually leads to..., and the like.
Please feel free to address any of these.
We're talking technique here.
On the other hand, if blogger left you burned and blase, please consider the iconization of sex.
The specific characteristic that confers the ultimate desirability on the hero/heroine.
The love potion. The unique detail. Beyond the general lust and pheronomes.
Yeah, yeah, most heroes are tall and broad shouldered; most heroines, lovely .The world is full of generic attractive people after all.
But they need a signature characteristic or three that makes their opposite number go mush. More than their crisp/curly/flaming hair.
And make the reader remember.
Probably best if the individual is specifically unique - physically, mentally and sexually.
What's your character's "hook or hooks?"
Or can you think of the best one(s) you've read?


Dennie McDonald said...

I have no clue... damn these are hard (but good) questions...

I read a lot of books and I notice trends w/ words. The desciptors - they change as the other trends change. You read some downright silly descriptions (I could leave examples - but for Bonnie's sake I shall forgo that)to almost clinical names...

I just write what feels natural, but I am sure what I have been reading influences me greatly

Ric said...

Bernita says I write good sex scenes.

She couldn't help feeling a little self-conscious. She had never done anything like this before. Standing on the cool tile of the bathroom floor while he adjusted the shower controls, she couldn't recall ever being naked in the bathroom with another person.

He stood back to let her enter first and the warm water created tingling sensations on her skin as she turned to let it cascade down her body. It felt good. Then he joined her, laughing that she was hogging all the water, and held her, their skin sliding with moisture as his arms pulled her close.

She hadn't planned on getting her hair wet but when he offered to shampoo it, she couldn't resist, reveling in the touch of his fingers on her scalp and the smell of the lather. Then, it was her turn. Touching him in places she hadn't before, running her fingers through his hair, making designs in the soapy lather, never remembering doing anything like this before.

He washed her back, running his hands up and down, sliding easy with the wet soap, and turned her around to wash the front. Making little piles of suds on her breasts and then blowing the bubbles away to lightly kiss her nipples.

She could not recall anyone doing this before, giving her such undivided attention, making every moment a memory. She watched his eyes, intent on taking in everything about her. Every touch calculated to make her wonder, make her happy, please her in some way.

She washed his back the same way, and turned him to wash his chest, making little circles in the suds amid the curly hair on his chest. He watched her eyes and he could not remember anyone ever doing this to him before.

The water showered down on them when they couldn't resist the lure of washing and touching every part of their bodies and then wondering if they had ever made love standing in a shower like they were doing now. Neither could remember.

And after the hot water had run out and they were forced to move to the bed, their bodies still wet and slippery, hair dripping but too involved to care. When they were finished, she noticed it was raining. A cold October rain blowing red and orange leaves against the windows. How different her life was now, from the cold autumn wind that chilled the bones and the soul to the hot rush of water in the shower that warmed her more than anything ever had in her life.

She felt a tear working its way down her cheek. A tear of gladness and she said a silent prayer this would never end and looked over to see tears on his face, too.

- from Falling Leaves

Bernita said...

And I was right,in a way.
But that's not a sex scene - that's a rare and precious love scene.
That passage, Ric, is simply beautiful.
The one who puts you first, above all things.
The tears that hallow thus.

S. W. Vaughn said...

*shivers* Ric -- that is awesome. I especially like making every moment a memory. What a beautiful phrase.

Bernita, these are good questions! I'm going to ponder them. Here's one quick thought: what about coitus interruptus -- which makes for a rather lively afterplay scene, and when handled well can provide comic relief? :-)

Bernita said...

The standard in romantic fiction is basically physical sex - the emotions/commitment context is often simple and superficial and remaindered to later - often without "why."
Here, Ric has added a depth and dimension which to frequently eludes the conventional scene.

Probably, SW, some can handle that sort of wry humor very well. Frustration can turn either way, however.

One does have to keep an eye on the current conventions, Dennie.

Ric said...

Like Bonnie's dayglow condom line yesterday?

I chose that passage because it illustrates many of the things Bernita was trying to get discussed.

No dialogue, nothing overtly graphic, foreplay, afterplay, romance, memories,

I'm glad you ladies liked it.

Bernita said...

You did it beautifully, Ric, and supplied what is missing from so many sex scenes.

Bernita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernita said...

"...mixing memory and desire..."

kmfrontain said...

Weelll. I can't put any of my sex scenes here. Bernita, after what you read on my other blog, you may be thinking I only specialize in non-vanilla unusual pairings, but I don't. In keeping with your topic of the sex that falls flat or gets interrupted, this I've done, because I've found it useful for storytelling. When the story is about relationship, especially relationships going over rocks, then a bumpy ride is a must. Uh...darn puns. You know what I mean.

As for words to use during sex, depends on the purpose of the scene. If it's hard, it gets hard words, blunt words, and if it's not, then it tends to be more vague and concentrate on emotions rather than body parts. Sweet euphimisms I tend to avoid, because they leave me flat no matter what the scene. I've seen too many of them anyhow, in traditional historical romance novels, though some of the more recent, better written ones with a decent plot don't do very badly in that regard (avoiding them as well).

Ric, that was lovely. :D

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Sheesh...*blush*...I don't write active sex scenes and unless their written by Ric...How does that keep happening?...I hardly ever read any, either!

LOL... Bernita...I see you liked that last comment so well that you said it twice..."Out damn Blogger, out!"

Ric *blush*..I'm fanning myself!

And LOL..S.W. coitus interruptus is always good for a flat souffle, laugh till he hurts, moment!

But Bernita, I'd have to say on the whole..fact is always stranger than fiction. Most of the time 'novel' sex is satisfying and lingering...while in reality...admit it ladies (and sorry guys)...the thrill is gone and men don't have a clue about romance, other than a wet willy!

Savannah Jordan said...

Well, in my own writing, with the vampires, Bernita, you've seen and mentionoe the 'hook' or in my blog. My hero is an artist, and I like to use the artwork refernces, "...artist's hands caressed her form with delicate, soft strokes as though touching precious artwork", "...My skin became his tapestry, a medium for his artistic sexual expression."

Now, I'm not sure if that hooks anyone other than me... *wink*

As to others works, I remember a scene from Candice Gilmer's book FANTASY GIRL because of the intensity of tension, how even I got caught up in the swirling emotions. And they didn't even 'consumate' the act, but only kissed.

And, WOW Ric!! :)

Savannah Jordan said...

...don't count the typos in my previous post...

Flood said...

Lady Chatterly's Lover is fraught with words considered unsexy today, but I still found it moving.

kmfrontain said...

I never count typos in blog comments. Or I'd have to count my own. :D

kmfrontain said...

Taken in context with the time, and if it was well written to begin with, anything can work. I have to read Lady Chatterly's Lover still, but recently I saw on TV a little interview with the translator of The Embroidered Couch, which is (I think) a 17th century erotic novel from China, which was banned after one dynasty fell and another took over. An apparently raunchy read that has relationships between two men and a woman. I'm interested. Would love to read this one, see how an author of this culture and time period viewed sex.

Bernita said...

Your blog is an education, KM,I cheerfully admit.
Nevertheless, I admire your sure touch with character, complication and detail.
You add the dimensions the same as Ric has done.
Wonderful technique.

But Bonnie, in fiction we're dealing with initial encounters.
Are you going to take that challenge, Guys? Is romance merely a means to an end? ( sniggers in a quite vulgar fashion) And soon discarded?

Fantasy. A topic. How large a part does it play?

A good,consistent image, Savannah.Sometimes writers drop these neat comparisons in and then drop them. Be more effective if they carried them on as you describe.

Bernita said...

Had the impression the thing people remembered most from Lady Chatterly was her twining of flowers in his pubic hair - an example of the unique sexual thingy I mentioned in my post.

Flood said...

It's the C-word in that book that is striking I think

kmfrontain said...

The c-word is still sexy, if you mean the female part. Some people don't seem to think so, but then, they should stop being prudes and take it back from those that use it only in a manner implying insult. Not that I haven't used it for insult, because certain of my fictional characters would think that way, but I have used it the other way as well.

Bernita said...

Afraid you shouldn't hold your breath, KM.
It seems ingrained in our culture as an insult.
Don't think I'm a prude, but I do not find it a "sexy" word.

kmfrontain said...

Ah well. I'm still using it whenever it works for my characters.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'm with you Bernita...I don't find anything appealing about the c-word!

In fact in my younger days, I have recollections of coming to blows about it...LOL

Okay, I'll acquiesce to initial encounters...even in real life. There's always the need to impress on both sides, so the first encounter is usually the things memories are made of *sigh* to bad they can't keep up the facade.

But that's what fiction is all about I guess. Taking us where we wish we could be...without all the work!

And...LOL...typos don't count in Blogging!

Robyn said...

Ditto, Bernita. I don't find the c-word sexy, either.

As dedicated a romance reader as I am, I have to admit to liking Fade To Black better than explicit scenes. The foreplay, the build up, the tension, is usually more interesting than the deed itself. The gasping, keening, crying, shrieking, roaring- and good grief. The various ways moisture and comparisons to fruit enter into those scenes will flat frighten you.

BTW, Ric- that was really beautiful.

Bernita said...

That's fine, Km. What ever works.You write great fiction.
Words come and go in fashion and in fiction.
However, one is not a "prude" or holding back liberation, if one does not use it.
Would be difficult for me anyway, as I don't have a "word" as such in my head, rather an image of the various body parts.

Notice the guys didn't counter your comment, Bonnie.

I consider typos more an indication of eagerness to get one's thoughts down and join in a discussion - that's if I even notice them, being fumble fingered frequently, myself.

Bernita said...

"Comparisons to FRUIT," Robyn?
Dear me, I've missed something.
The word "kumquats" just burst into my brain...

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I dunno...LOL...banana and cucumber came to mind for me....ROFLOL!

Robyn said...

Oh, yes, it's a trend now. Mostly for end of the male organ. Ripe plums are the current favorite, I think.

I remember reading (from a HUGELY successful author) a description of a heroine and her enchanted grotto. I couldn't get past that. Isn't a grotto full of dirt and slimy rocks?

I guess that's the trick, isn't it? What do you call everything? If it's too clinical, you get Tab A goes in Part B boring; if you wax too poetical you get a WTH? inducing ripe plum in an enchanted grotto. That's why I loved Ric's little scene. I could see and feel everything without the graphic description getting in the way.

And no more nubbins. Please no more nubbins.

Bernita said...

Dear. Me.
I must be out of touch.
For once I'm with the anti-metaphor crowd.
I understand the theory behind this, sensual, edible food associations, but I wonder if it works.
If that's the best they can do, no wonder you prefer fade to black.

kmfrontain said...

I only use plant metaphors when I'm making fun of sex, an example being a character getting irritated because he was being offered cucumber instead of peach.

December Quinn said...

"Breaking glass"? That wasn't a reference to La Morningstar, was it? (Oh, I hope so!)

As for as sex and the c-word...I use it. Sometimes. I admit it isn't my favorite word, but if used sparingly and in the right scene it really does work. As km said, if my people are having hard, fast, needy sex, I'll use it because it's a "hard" word. (Never in dialogue, though, never ever.) Plus, every once in a while I get tired of coming up with (non-flowery) euphemisms, and since I don't like using the same word too many times...well, you need a word, and that one is available.

My more romantic scenes, though, are more euphemistic and emotional.

Nobody will let me use "dick", though. I don't know why. Apparently it isn't a sexy word, but "cock" is. Who knew?

Ric said...

Amazing the different paths this blog can take in a single day.

Fruit, vegetables, C words and Dicky.

Excuse me, what were we talking about?

I try very dutifully not to use slang words for body parts. Especially the C word - maybe because of the negative connotations it has lately. Somehow sounds vulgar and my ladies know I'm never vulgar. Though if I really feel the need to cut loose, dialogue is the place for it.

Fruity pebbles did cause a good laugh.

And there was something about "do you take the green part off the carrot before you use it like that?"

"Where do the batteries go?"

Okay, have to stop now, Bonnie will put me on her prayer list yet again........

Candice Gilmer said...

Savannah -- ::wave:: Thank you for the nice comments!! :)

Bernita, I think it depends on the characters. In one of the love scenes in Unified Souls, one of the characters is a cyborg, and Jasmine is shocked and fascinated when Devin kisses her on her cybernetic arm -- how strange the sensation is and also that he would even do such a thing.

And when it comes to fruit references, I personally only use them if in a joking reference. Although I keep seeing a trend towards strange references to men's nipples... "mini peaks" comes to mind.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Ric *blush* !!!

Bernita said...

What a wild lot!
I have the familiar uneasy feeling that I said something with doubled entendres that I didn't intend.
Happens to me a lot.
December, was thinking of bad guys/fire bombs bursting in.
Probably because "dick" is associated with uselessness, ie. "dicking around."
I don't dare say..."you use the words that fit," now, do I?

Who was talking about "batteries," Ric?
Think I've missed something again.
No, don't explain.

Candice and KM - that use would be a hoot to read!

Why are you blushing, Bonnie?
I don't understand.