Today’s Facebook feed had plenty for me to bookmark and read at leisure. I only use the social platform to condense my ‘likes‘ the way my late father used to routinely make coffee, smoke a cigarette, eat his breakfast, and then spend a few hours pouring over The Freep (Detroit Free Press), which was then in the form of a newspaper, on paper, with actual print and pictures for those of you who may not know.
The brief article in Writer’s Write on Writing Sex Scenes (Mia Botha) in novels appealed to me in much the same way sex itself does, only with a nervous hesitation to read the article that also comes with reading it in novels and writing it in my own work. It gave me something else to think about – via my blog – with regard to writing, the mechanics, what works, what doesn’t, and how I can improve my own style. Especially the racy, anticipatory scenes common to the genre in which I delve, both as a reader and a writer.
Personally, I’m the one who chooses to graze over those scenes, especially if they’re too graphic. Worse, if I see words like (ugh, this is hard, even for a blog) manhood, shaft, or … seriously, I can’t type the word, much less say it, so I’ll just use the letter p. There. These adjectives which are actually nouns are simply too … scientific? sterile? anatomical? I don’t know. What I do know is when I see them, it immediately takes me OUT of lusty voyeur interest and into diaper-change mode, or I envision that Vitruvian Man thing of DaVinci’s. The made-up adjectives to describe a noun, or made-up nouns that sound like adjectives – whatever – they give me a hard time.
I’m giggling big-time now, but when I read words like rod, pocket-rocket, bulge, package, third leg, and mound, it cracks me up. I see them in a novel and am instantly sent into sophomoric hysterics. Again, defeating the purpose of the scene and taking me out of erotica land and onto the playground. This is just me, though, and I guess a lot of readers would disagree. But, these words ARE sophomoric in their intentional use, so I’m sorry.
It has more to do with the wording than the act itself.
When I attempt to read clean through a sex scene – triple X or soft-cor or otherwise – the descriptive words used are what will decide my ability to continue reading or just groan and say PASS. How the bump & grind occurs isn’t as relevant as the way the author describes it that make the difference between compelling read or awkward, blushing fail.
Telescopic vision between the legs of the enamored couple kind of wording.
This becomes more than just awkward and is hella discomforting to be THAT CLOSE to the action. Not to mention I think it’s just gross. So his hand is trailing a tantalizingly hot path between her quivering thighs. Uh-huh, got it. Been there, done that, know the feeling. I also know the hand’s intention and would rather not read play-by-play sports commentator information about the details.
I also know what the finger’s intent is, where it will end up, and even what results from such a devilishly wicked yet sensually pleasing move. Is it my duty to write commentator style or is there a delightfully rewarding way to imply without sounding like a puritan or a moral robot?
Sex is personal, and I enjoy it, but I wouldn’t like it viewed by the public. It would be impossible for me to perform if that were the case, and I know it. It stands to reason, then, that writing about it would prove just as difficult. Yet it seems almost necessary to include in my writing because it is, after all, a romance. The natural progression of the story is toward the act itself – unless you want to piss off your readers – then they’d anti you to kingdom come and never read another of your novels.
Funny or not, when I come to this difficult avenue in my own writing, it all looks the same.
(sex scene) …
I’ve yet to actually go for it, so to speak, and just get the thing written – because I don’t know how to go about doing it in a way that isn’t gratuitous porn or the opposite, 1938 hush-hush or laborious in-your-face. It needs to be included, but without too much detail yet have all the right elements to make it actually invoke the mood of the moment. It needs to compel the reader to enjoy the scene they anticipated at least half as much as the characters engaged in the act itself.
Maybe a quarter and not half.
I actually have never come across any author who managed to get it just right, either. Having never read a sex scene worth remembering or enjoying gives me incentive to be the first to accomplish such a feat. I’m well aware of the fact that no one sees anything quite the same way as another. This particular conundrum is mine and about me, how comfortable I am with the intimacy scenes and how far I think they should go.
The descriptive narrative and even dialogue for sex scenes run the gamut in the genre, too. So again, this is encouraging because unless there are no sex scenes, the readers are at least prepared for whatever comes their way. Still, I’d like mine to be handled with as much finesse and wow as I can mentally tolerate.
What I’m going to try is this: to write words that make the reader want to light up when they’re through reading them, and accomplish this feat by invoking the likes of Teddy Pendergras, The Isley Brothers, and Barry White. I don’t know how much it can be denied that when it comes to sex, R&B pretty much has the imagery thing nailed lyrically.
Not to rip off but to read and study the lyrics, hope it helps to give me a better understanding of how to express the act without hammering it home with facts, figures, in-depth analysis, and medical jargon, using a lot of uncomfortable words that turn people like me away from the whole scene.
The reader is there, they know what is going on, but they’re not hearing such things as:
moist, or its irritating counterpart – moisture.
Or the absolutely punishing words: creamy, milky, VELVETY, and sticky (none of which are used to describe skin).
Penetrate or penetration. OR the pink-taco-esque references used to describe the place to be … penetrated.
NO anatomical or internal organ words to include nipple (cringe), vagina (ugh), penis (no), vulva (?), areola (worse than nipple, maybe), cervix (really? why?), sack, scrotum, or pubic.
Seriously, do pubic hairs need describing? Much less mention? Ugh.
I don’t want to see, read, or write them any more than I need to have them described, explained to me, or what is done to them in the course of … intercourse. GAWD, I hate that word, too!
Honestly, I’m of half a mind to believe that part of the reason our genre isn’t taken more seriously (for what it’s worth and the effort put into creating it) is because of scenes like this that use words like the ones I just wrote down and will swear on a solemn oath to never incorporate in my own stories.
Now to work on the shy, embarrassing aspect of this daunting task. Actually creating a sex scene.