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Posts Tagged ‘writing sex’

Romancing the Chaos

Dreams imageIMG_0347There are few things a writer can do that will kick-start a story, then pull the reader in and keep them gripped right up to the very end quite as effectively as creating a little chaos. A calm and happy life in the real world might be just the ticket, but in story, there’s one word for it – BORING! A story is all about upsetting the apple cart, breaking the eggs, turning the bull loose in the china cupboard and — heart racing, palms sweating – seeing what happens, while we’re safely ensconced on the other side of the keyboard/Kindle/book. Is there anything quite as yummy as that adrenaline rush at someone else’s expense!

One of the best tools for dropping the character smack-dab into the middle of the chaos – and the reader vicariously – is sex. And the more inconvenient, the more inappropriate, the more confusing, the more SO not what the character was expecting, the more delicious the chaos will be. And let’s not forget just how much chaos NO sex can add to a story. Taking sex off the table has been a key ingredient for causing chaos in story ever since Lysistrata. A little unrequited lust can upset way more than the apple cart. Sex and withholding sex to get that chemistry overload between characters are both perfect recipes for chaos.

The thing about those great big human brains of ours is that they like to make us think we can control all the variables. The thing about the biological housing for those big brains is that it doesn’t always want to be controlled. There’s a reason why the junk is often referred to as the second brain. Oooh! I get goose bumps just thinking about what happens when the big brain gets a hankering and the biological soup starts overheating and sex happens … or doesn’t.

If we look at Western history from the point of view of religion and its effects on culture, there are few things the religious powers that be have made more of an effort to control than sex. And in story, in myth, there are few things that have caused more chaos than a little rough and tumble in the wrong place at the wrong time. Troy lost a war and was destroyed over it, King Author’s realm fell because of it, David had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed because of it.

The resulting chaos that sex unleashes in a story can be nothing more than to create self-doubt in a cock-sure character, which is always a delight to see. Or the resulting chaos can be world-destroying, and anything in between. Sex can cause the kind of chaos that will make the reader laugh, or the kind of chaos that will make the reader say, ‘if only they hadn’t done that.’ However, the one thing sex should never do in a story is leave things the way they were before it happened. Can it be used for bonding? Of course! But the tighter the bond, the more chaos can be caused if that bond is tested or broken.

And because the unconscious part our big brains doesn’t give a damn if our sexual thoughts and fantasies are ‘socially acceptable,’ nor is it discriminating about who we might have those thoughts and fantasies about, the resulting internal chaos can be almost as delicious as the external – maybe even more so. That lovely mix of guilt and desire and self-loathing and arousal and denial and shear over-heated lust. OMG! It’s a total writer’s paradise there for the taking.waterhouse_apollo_and_daphne

I’m sure I’m like most writers in that I analyse what I read for pleasure in terms of what worked and what didn’t, what I would have done if I’d written it, and what I’ve learned from the author’s writing skills that can be used to make my own writing better. I have to say one of the biggies for me is how well the author uses chaos to move the story forward at a good pace; and especially how effectively sex is used to create chaos. I’m sure I pay a lot more attention to how sex is used in a story (or not) because I write erotica, but it’s the resulting chaos that fascinates me and keeps me reading in almost any kind of novel. The world is not a static place, and especially the world of story should not be static. Happy endings are called happy endings because they happen at the end. They follow the chaos and happen when the story is finished. There is no more story, or at least none the reader wants to follow. It’s the chaos that pulls us in and keeps us turning the pages, and when that chaos is directly tied to sex, hold on to your hat!

 

Three Things I Consider when Writing Sex

Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777I’m sure everyone has sniggered over the annual list of contenders for the Bad Sex Awards. The little snippets from the poor authors who drew the attention of said awards are always great entertainment, but never in the way they were intended. It’s no secret, authors who write in genres other than erotica often find sex in fiction a challenge, even frightening – no matter how well-known or prolific they are and, fair enough – sex is hard to write well. We can cut them a bit of slack because they’re not erotica writers, but poorly written sex should NEVER be an issue for an author of erotica or romance in which that act of connecting is central to the plot.

 

Context is everything in writing a good sex scene, just as it is in writing any good scene, and context is way more complex that it might appear at first thought. Contemporary erotica is obviously not like historical erotica, but neither is contemporary erotica set in New York City going to have the same feel to it as sex in a story set in rural America or a story about a tourist in Paris. Context involves time, place and language. Few things are more jarring that to have characters speak sexy out of context – even if they talk dirty – and don’t we love it when they do — it should still be dirty talk in context.

 

The context is also what each character brings into the sex act – their baggage, their neuroses, their kinks, their fears, their history up until that point. A virgin raised in a conservative household, having her/his first sexual encounter is unlikely to react the way someone who is more experienced would. A person who is embarrassed or ashamed of their body, won’t react the same way someone who is comfortable in their own skin will.

 

jail cellAnd let’s not forget the situation. Angry sex won’t have the same feel as tender first-time sex or a quickie, or bored-now-let’s-get-it-over-with sex. Which leads me to the second thing to remember – timing.

 

Timing of a sex scene in a story is essential. Gratuitous sex is never a welcome edition unless you’re just writing wank material. Sex in a story, like everything else in a story, should do at least one of three things 1. Further the plot in some way. 2. Reveal more about the characters. 3. Cause some serious chaos and up the stakes.

 

A sex scene that happens too early in the story will make the reader less likely to continue after the “money shot.” A sex scene that happens too late or doesn’t happen at all will make the reader feel cheated. A sex scene that doesn’t need to be there slows the momentum of the story and, if you’ve created a pacey, interesting plot in which the reader’s engrossed, they may well just skip the sex scene anyway.

 

Language is at least as important in a sex scene as it is in any other part of story. The one place you don’t want your reader jarred out of is the sex act. Filthy is as filthy fits. If dirty language fits the context use it, if awkward inexperienced banter fits, use it, if perhaps it’s medical kink, use the anatomical terms.

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This is another example where context is everything. You all know, I write erotica and harder erotic romance under the name K D Grace and my softer, sizzling romance, I write as Grace Marshall. The choice of language used in the two is quite different, and that difference is essential. You won’t find any hard erotica language in a GM novel, but the heat level is still there.

 

Has anyone noticed that a great deal of paranormal romance is really outrageously erotic? Interestingly

enough, it doesn’t get labeled erotica in bookstores or on Amazon because of the language in which the sex scenes are couched. The way in which words generate heat doesn’t necessarily have to do with how graphic they are. Sometimes it has to do with how suggestive they are, how sensual they are, how much they draw the reader into the situation. That isn’t something easily done, but it’s essential to write the level of heat into the language appropriate for the story being told. Cunts, pussies and spunk spurting cocks are out of context in a romance, but just because the words aren’t used, doesn’t mean all of the above aren’t fully present in the story. Either different words are used or the bits mentioned are written around rather than bluntly approached.

 

And now it’s time for my Pet Language Peeve. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been totally jarred out of a story because some writer was trying not to overuse breasts and stuck in the word globe, which puts me right back in my grade school geography class. Perhaps a writer thought maybe they’d used 7401867966b49d9e25e799def0c09daefingers and hands too often and stuck in the word “digits.” My husband is a chemical engineer, he uses digits all the time in his calculations, but he doesn’t run digits through my long flowing locks. You flip pancakes, not a lover, a canal is what you take a boat down in Venice, not the thing you stick a cock in. If you need to use a word twice, use it twice! Use it three times! Hell, fill a whole paragraph with it! Just please don’t throw your reader out of the story by trying not to be repetitive. A little repetition is far less jarring that a word that takes the reader out of the action and back to grade school. Think about the choice of words and phrases you use. If you don’t want to overuse a word, then rephrase the sentence, rewrite the paragraph, consider whether or not you can eliminate some of the sentences with overused words altogether. Of course every reader, every writer, has different pet peeves, different bugaboos and someone is bound to shudder at the use of “cunt” or the use of “boobs,” or the use of … well just about everything. All I’m saying is choose you words carefully. Make them fit the characters and the situation.

 

Thus endeth the sermon! Go thou forth and write sexy stuff!

 

Writing Good Sex

 

Dreams image 2IMG_0351As a writer of erotic romance, I’m always trying to analyze the ways in which sex strengthens story. I’ve
been very vocal in my belief that a story without sex is like a story without eating or breathing. Sex is a major driving force in our lives on many levels that I’ve dealt with in many blog posts. Because it is a major driving force in our lives it must also be a major driving force in story. Sex is a powerful way to create conflict and chaos in a story. It’s a way of allowing our characters to interact on an intimate level. And it’s one of the very best ways to cut through our characters’ facades and get an honest look at who they are when their guard is down and they’re at their most vulnerable. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share a few points that I always find helpful when I write sex scenes. For me, going back to the basics is always a great way to sharpen my skills. And I love to share the things that work for me.

 

Three occasions not to write sex

 

  1. While writing children’s books
  2. While writing the definitive work on antique saltcellars.
  3. When you’re not a writer, you’re a bricklayer. Even then …

Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

Three important reasons to incorporate sex in your writing

 

 

  1. Sex adds tension.
  2. Sex adds depth and dimension to a story, and gives it more humanity.
  3. Sex adds intimacy and transparency to the story and helps the reader better know the characters.

 

Three big no-nos in writing sex

 

  1. Sex should never be gratuitous. If it doesn’t further the story, don’t put it in.
  2. Sex shouldn’t be a trip to the gyno office. Technical is NOT sexy.
  3. Sex should never be clichéd or OTT. (unless it suits the story)

 

Four suggestions for writing better sex scenes

  1. Write sex unselfconsciously. No one is going to believe it’s you any more than they believe Thomas Harris is a cannibal.
  2. Sex scenes should always be pacey. Too much detail is worse than not enough. Sex should neither slow nor speed up the pace of the novel. It shouldn’t be used like an interval in a play. It should not serve as filler to bolster word count. It should always keep pace with the story being told.
  3. Approach sex in your writing voyeuristically by watching and learning from your characters. Their personalities, emotional baggage and behavior traits will dictate how they have sex and how you write it.

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  1. You should always be able to feel a good sex scene in your gut. I’m not talking about wank material, I’m talking about The Clench. It’s a different animal. The Clench below the navel is for the sex scene what the tightness in the chest and shoulders is for the suspense scene.

 

The power of good sex can drive a story in ways that almost nothing else can. Good sex can be the pay-off for a hundred pages of sexual chemistry and tension, but the pay-off is even better if it’s also the cause of more chaos, sling-shotting the reader breathlessly on to the next hundred pages and the next.

(This post from KD’s Archives of cool stuff)

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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