Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tab A and Slot B


Aiiyiiyiii!
Some interesting points were raised yesterday about basic sex scenes and possible explanations why some readers skip them or go arrrugh.
Erik expressed this vividly.
The importance of foreplay and pillow talk was emphasised.
Ric gave an excellent example of how to avoid one altogether and still get the message across.
Rick commented on the mechanical quality of many scenes.
Intelligent comments were made about the use of comedy , avoiding tired euphemisms and promoting plot development -Daisy, Karen and Monica - just to name three.
What bugs us all is template sex.
Maybe I've been reading the wrong things, but I do wonder why a plot will have interesting, well-developed characters, who, the minute they fall into bed, immediately become stereotypes and the act itself a one-size-fits-all.
He massages her breasts, he kisses her belly button, he gives oral sex and then - you know the drill.
Like an operating manual - with robots.
Seldom does one see the slightest individual reaction to all this heavy breathing. The actions are rote, the reactions are standardized. Nothing unique about the whole thing at all.
This cliche approach cannot be fixed by exchanging tired euphemisms by fresh ones, or by introducing more graphic terms.
I suspect that scenes are not necessarily individualized by the introduction of toys, positions, locations, or even genders.
People are individuals, even in bed, and some writers seem to have forgotten that.

35 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

For me, in real life, my level of sexual enjoyment is in direct proportion to my level of interest in the woman I'm having sex with. Whether the interest is a genuine and special friendship, love, or just intense physical attraction that interest transfers directly to the actual sex encounter.

I've never paid for sex. Thought about it a time or two, just simply for that experience. I've not been able to convince myself, though, the experience would be worth it.

If I am inclined to read a detailed sex scene in its entirety, it will be because my interest in the scene is being transfered through my involvement with the characters. Otherwise, if its not clearly the character personalities having sex, why bother. It's like I would imagine it to be when paying for it...get undressed, go through the motions, get your nuts off, get dressed.

You're right, Bernita. We are all individuals, even in bed. If our characters must be individual, then their sex must be too. Um, in my humble opinion.

Carla said...

I don't have much to add to this, except to say that I often find detailed physical descriptions mechanical, however kinky they are, and so I tend to skip them. I generally reckon that most readers know what goes where so there's no need to tell them. If the reader is engaged with the characters they'll fill in a much hotter scene than the writer could likely manage (because it will be exactly as the reader imagines it should be), and if the reader isn't engaged with the characters the scene won't work for them anyway. I generally go from set-up to pillow-talk and let the reader fill in what happened in between.

MissWrite said...

How's this for unusual? It's an excerpt from my novel to be released next year. Now I don't go in for extreme detail. I usually find that just... well.. icky unless I'm purposely writing erotic which I don't do too often.

I'm not sure how the formatting will work, or not work in here, but here goes.

***
Richard turned and draped an arm over Sheri’s slumbering form. The mid-morning sunlight invaded the room and brightened it. The memories of an empty house on Maple Street, a guest bedroom devoid of furnishings except for an old, creaky bed felt like ancient history. He looked about the room of the home he bought for the woman beside him, and decorated by Sheri’s loving hand. It was warm, and inviting, like her body lying next to him. He moved closer and spooned her.

Her eyes fluttered, and opened a slit as his hand caressed her body beneath the covers. Sheri turned to him and gave him a groggy smile. Richard bent to kiss her lips, and climbed onto her body. As her legs enveloped him, he surged with energy.

“Where should we go this weekend?” he asked as he entered her. It titillated him to watch her body explode in ecstasy while he talked about mundane events, or chores. “If we’re going to go out of town, I have to clean the gutters first.” He shoved deeper with an earnest thrust that made her squeal and grab the pillow under her head.

Pretty soon, he felt her squeeze, she wouldn’t be able to take the idle banter anymore. He smiled, and thrust again feeling her pulsate beneath him, watching her eyes roll, wanting to shout with joy. He grabbed her thighs and pulled her up, pumping harder, pushing her to the very limits. “I think Paris would be nice for a weekend.”

“Stop!” Sheri grabbed his arm, and pulled herself up to face him. Her eyes were a blistering furnace of orgasmic energy. She met his thrust with furious power, pushing her body onto his, deeper, harder, working her hips on his until Richard thought the entire bedroom would disintegrate from the heat of their passion, and he would implode before being able to release the pent up orgasm in his loins, but he did, and it didn’t.

Richard rolled over onto the bed and lay there spent. He smiled when Sheri pushed up onto an elbow next to him.

“Paris would be nice,” she said with a smile.

MissWrite said...

Quote Erik: If I am inclined to read a detailed sex scene in its entirety, it will be because my interest in the scene is being transfered through my involvement with the characters. (end quote)

Erik, that was so well said. Bravo.

Bernita said...

Oh, WELL SAID, Erik!

Exactly, Carla, either individualize the scene or leave it out.

Very good, Tami! The characters don't become automans, acting automatically, they've retained their individuality.

kmfrontain said...

I started to comment on the post, and then realized I should make my own post, because it would have been a huge comment here. ;-)

Anyhow, my rules and tips on writing sex scenes on my blog, inspired by your blog, Bernita. It's something I should have done long ago, after reading all the stuff I've had to proofread and beta read and edit.

Bernita said...

And I for one will read it with pleasure, Karen.

kmfrontain said...

Heh, and the first comment I got on it was one of dissatisfaction because of a lack of gentleness and sex. Oh, well. Like I said, to each their own tastes. :D

Bernita said...

I didn't quite understand the complaint that you used then to ~gasp~ advance the plot, and therefore, somehow, that made them un-erotic.
Also, that since some expresses a power-play, which I assume was consistent with the characters, that also was un-erotic.
Dear me.

kmfrontain said...

I would guess that, with this particular reader, gentleness is erotic and a lack of it not. Yes, for that novel, and many others I have done, power struggles are a part of the theme. But this isn't vanilla sex and there are people that only like reading vanilla sex. So I can understand skipping sex that is too burdensome to read because the content isn't pleasing. The one thing my post did not account for was taste in sex. But then, I shouldn't account for it. I was only accounting for what would work for any given novel with any type of sex.

December Quinn said...

Yep, Erik has it right. The sex scenes aren't particularly interesting if we don't care about the characters already, even a little. Characterixation is important and every sex scene should tell us something about the characters, even f it's a small thing. We should know more about them after reading it.

Bernita said...

You were discussing writing techniques, not taste, Karen.
Anonymous apparently missed that point, among others.

So true, December, and the sex scenes shouldn't be interchangeable from book to book, as if everyone in this world did exactly the same things.

kmfrontain said...

Perhaps anonymous did, but still, the viewpoint was interesting. I find even the negative comments of my serious readers of value. They don't see everything the way I do, after all. It's nice to have their perspective, even if it happens to be a one of disagreement.

kmfrontain said...

Heh, eventually I guess I will have to write a vanilla novel. I keep thinking of plots for this, and then wonder who will read them, but you know, vanilla sells. ;-)

Bernita said...

Very true. They are.
Put my reaction down to a mild allergy to anonymous posters.

kmfrontain said...

LOL. Yes, I don't like the anonymous thing either. But some of my readers don't seem to want to post in any other fashion. You can pretty much tell which ones are the real deal, however. They mention too much to be anything but a reader. In any case, I appreciate your immediate rise to defend my writing. :D

Bernita said...

You know it's not my thing - I'm pure vanilla.
Nevertheless, I think you write exceedingly well.

kmfrontain said...

Thank you. :-)

Gabriele C. said...

Now I really have to download Frontain's ebooks (don't read well onscreen that's why I didn't yet) and look for the naughty scenes. I love dominance games. :)

Not to mention I got a naughty scene in my mind for myo own WiPs. Gotta love my freewriting exercises, that one should be fun.

kmfrontain said...

Well, you won't see much of graphic dominance in the downloadable books. I was a big glosser of details for the epic, but if you look at parts 16, 17 of my Tristan story on Livejournal, you'll get more graphic details, and then there's The Beast in Beauty serial story on Erotic Dreams Zine, which is a free ezine. Both of those stories, btw, have a mix of homoerotica with heterosexual erotica. And now I have to tell you I always screw up linking on a blog comment, so just find the links on my Blogger blog for Livejournal and Erotic Dreams.

Gabriele C. said...

Thanks. I'll put you on my LJ f-list. You'll be in good company, there are more people on it who write naughty scenes. *grin*

I'm aulus_poliutos, btw.

kmfrontain said...

Now there's a Livejournal name. You have to tell me what it means. :D

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, it's a 'Roman' name before I researched Roman naming patterns. I wish I could change it, but LJ doesn't allow that. :(

He's a character from one of my NiPs and now properly named Aulus Julius Pollienus.

Read some of your Tristan chapters, you naughty girl. Decimus Aurelius Idamantes and Lucius Vinicius Marcellus (to give them their complete, and correct, Roman names) could learn some things from your characters. *grin*

Candice Gilmer said...

Erik certainly hit the nail on the head with that one...

I find in my own work at writing love scenes that they can be tired, cliche'd and get, well redundant.

Since I started writing love scenes in fan fiction, I started out with the basics, keeping thing simple. Well, to a certain degree. My second love scene ever took place in a locker room.

But I've written a lot of fan fiction, practice on my part to better figure out certain writing aspects, including sex scenes, action and pacing.

Finding something unique, a different way to properly develope my characters through such an intimate act is a challenge, to say the least.

But what a fun one to have! :)

Bernita said...

Hee, Gabriele. I've learned a lot from reading Tristan. Especially love the fairies and the complex psychology.

He did, didn't he, Candice?

'Tis fun, and one doesn't even have to do field research.

archer said...

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind...

--A Midsummer Night's Dream

Bernita said...

Nice, Archer, but sex isn't ALL in your head though...

kmfrontain said...

I'm glad you enjoyed them, Gabriele. And thank you again, Bernita.

archer said...

sex isn't ALL in your head though...

100%. A hundred writers tell me how gorgeous and desirable the heroine is and I don't care. I'd give a year of my life for a night with Esther Summerson of Bleak House, though, and she got the smallpox. It's that steel in her. It drives me nuts.

Bernita said...

Talking all night, I presume.

archer said...

Bernita! You are speaking of the woman I love!

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