Sunday, 18 December 2016

Let's talk about sex

Okay, after violence, let’s talk about a second topic which can be hard to tackle: Sex. Yup, those three letters which make quite some people nervous, even today. Making love, stilling lust, getting it on. You know what I mean. If not, I suggest trying to Google it.
Like my post about violence last week, this is not about how you write sex scenes. It’s about when to use them and when not to. Like with the violence, you shouldn’t just add sex for the thrill of it, even though advertisements these days think they should do exactly that.

What kind of story needs a sex scene?
Not exactly the right question to ask. It’s obvious that an erotic story will have a sex scene - several, in all likeliness. Romantic stories these days usually have them as well. Other kinds of stories can have them - it’s an option, if it fits with the rest of the story. For YA stories, you should probably stay clear of that, though. You might suggest something, but not show it.

So I just put my characters in a room and get steamy with them?
Probably not, no. Unless you’re aiming for what fan fiction writers know as PWP (porn without plot), there has to be a reason for them to get steamy. The most obvious reason would be mutual love - or mutual lust, at any rate. There are, however, different reasons as well.
In a magical environment, sex could be part of a ritual. That’s not an invention, that is fact in several belief systems.
Especially a woman (in most types of society) can also use sex to gain information or entry into a specific area. In a society dominated by women, a man could try the same trick.
A dare could provide a reason for sex, too. As long as it’s consenting, there is no reason not to have a plot like that. If you want romance added, make them fall in love afterwards.
There are many more possible reasons. I’m sure, if you think about it for a while, you can come up with a list of your own.

How should they get steamy?
That’s pretty much up to what you want to write. The sex can be vanilla or kinky, can confirm to usual standards or be wild and special. If you want to use something you’re not familiar with (like BDSM, if you’re not in that subculture), familiarize yourself with it. The internet is full of information and you will definitely find someone ready to explain things to you.
Remember that erotica are not porn. Porn simplifies things far too much: women are always ready, men are always hard, every fall of a hat justifies having sex in twenty different positions.
Still, it usually pays off to be direct with the writing. Don’t try flowery language (unless you’re trying to copy an Edwardian love epos or something), come straight to the point. Name body parts the way they’re usually named in society. The readers should immediately know what it is about.
There’s no need to describe every little detail, but give the imagination some food, so the reader can create the scene in their own mind.
Make sure to show all people involved are having fun. Sex should be something positive (which is where consent comes in, too - avoid rape scenes or other non-consenting sex). That doesn’t mean you can’t have ‘hard’ sex, it means the people involved should all like that kind of sex.

Do I have to like it?
You should always like what you write, but you should at least be positive with the kind of sex you describe. You don’t have to practice it, but be informed about it and feel good with writing about it. The readers will realize it, if you abhor something and still write about it - and that’s not a good thing.

In short: create suitable circumstances for the sex scene, be informed about the kind of sex your characters have, show sex in a positive way, be blunt about it in writing - and don’t overdo it, but give the reader food for their imagination. Practice. Writing action of any kind well - in and out of bed - needs experience.

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