Slippery Little Bastards

I really good at not writing sex scenes.

I was, after all, raised not talking about lots of things. In fact, by my teenage years, I was an expert at figuring out what my family was not talking about.

The more I didn’t talk about the things, the happier everyone was with me. There have been times in my life where attempting to talk about certain things has rendered me unable to speak at all. And relationships ended badly—-or strangely—-because I would look at them silently. Well, look away from them silently.

Girls are supposed to love talking to their boyfriends about the status of their relationship, right?

If I felt that a relationship needed discussing, I just stopped talking to him all together.

But okay. I’m a writer.

I wrote a fair number of letters. It is my fervent wish that these letters have since been thrown away by the recipients.

So I don’t write letters anymore. I write stories. And in stories certain things must be written! Deep emotions and thoughts and reactions must be expressed!

Such emotions, thoughts, and reactions can be expressed in small gestures—-like handing someone a cup of tea. Or, you know, in sex scenes.

The last few days I’ve been working on a difficult short story. I hate admitting to that because if you read the story you might be mystified as to why I think it is difficult, but my way of looking at things has mystified a lot of people. One more won’t hurt.

But why is the story difficult?

The main character is cheating on his girlfriend. And the story is about his emotions, thoughts, reactions to his infidelity. So, it kind of seems necessary that the infidelity is in the story. Am I wrong about that?

Am I finding the story difficult because I find writing such scenes difficult or because the story is rubbish? I could give up.

But I don’t want to.

Here is where I pull out my hair, hit my head on my desk, and shout, “Stupid words!” Sigh. No. Words aren’t stupid. They’re slippery little bastards.

6 thoughts on “Slippery Little Bastards

  1. Is it against the rules to fade to black now? I’ve read porn,and soft porn, and romance (which is wannabe porn) and everything in between. I have to say, letting the reader’s imagination create those moments can be much more interesting for the reader. Your character could be seen entering or exiting a hotel room with his paramour and the reader will put those “behind the closed door” scenes into the story all by themselves.

  2. I guess I didn’t know how things had changed. I’ve read a couple of things online now about “mandatory” sex scenes. Is erotica — which we used to call “porn” when I was a child — so influential now it’s required in all stories regardless of genre? Or is it simply integral to your story for some reason?

    I’m with Falcon; I favor the “shut-the-door, fade-to-black” manner of handling sex scenes. But that’s me. Maybe I’d sell more books if I were more graphic.

  3. Sex scenes really are difficult, and despite everything I really do sympathize with you. OTOH it’s not necessarily an either-or choice; it depends on the expected (or hoped-for :)) audience.

    The biggest problem I have with writing them is the language, which refuses to settle down but swings wildly between clinical and ridiculous. The, um, the choreography can also be complicated. Again noting that this won’t apply to every story (or every sex scene!), I’ve found three tactics helpful:

    (1) Don’t try to describe what’s going on. Use dialogue. That way you can avoid the graphic language but still imply — even make plain — what’s going on.

    (2) Use humor. Have one of the characters fall off the sofa, or be unable to unbutton a piece of their own or their partner’s clothing so that the two of them (er, there ARE only two, right???) start laughing, and have to work together physically for a moment or two before things get really serious again.

    (3) Stay inside one character’s head. Strictly limited 3rd-person POV, or 1st-person if you can do that in the given story. What is s/he experiencing? I always try to remind myself that if I am not scared of describing other physical/psychological sensations — pain, fright, anger, tenderness — I oughta be able to do the same thing with the sort of pleasant timelessness of a sexual encounter.

    (You do realize, don’t you, that this post and the comments may boost both your real traffic and your spam count? :D)

  4. No boost yet!

    But to all of you who have commented so far—-I usually like to reply to everyone individually, but in this case, you’ve all inspired me to write another post. So. Stay tuned of you’ve a mind to.

  5. The only time I wrote sex scenes was in a journal I kept in my twenties, analyzing my various exploits. I have long since shredded the thing. I have no desire to write sex scenes. I assume I would do a terrible job full of cliches. There’s so much else to write about, I’m hoping I can get away with never writing one and no one will notice.

    1. Isn’t it perfectly fine to never write a sex scene? Many great books don’t have sex scenes–although that doesn’t always stop film makers from creating them when they turn the book into a movie. But anyway. Sure. One reason I avoid writing such material is the idea of writing them badly. Scary.

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