Powered by Blogger.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Writing good sex scenes

Writing good sex scenes
One of my favourite authors is Diana Gabaldon. I love her works and have her hardcopy titles proudly sitting on my bookshelves like the old friends they are (unlike mass market paperbacks which I read and then recycle without shedding a tear). I was delighted when Outlander was filmed, and as for Sam Heughan, the actor who plays Jamie ... yummmm! He's HOT! What ... forgotten what he looks like? Let me remind you ...

I digress... Diana wrote a piece earlier this year for a Canadian magazine, Chatelaine, on the topic of writing sex scenes. Most of us love a bit of smut, don’t we ... admit it, and according to Gabaldon, where most beginning writers screw up (pun intended) is in thinking that sex scenes are about sex. A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids. That being so, it can encompass any emotion whatever, from rage or desolation to exultation, tenderness, or surprise.

Lust is not an emotion; it’s a one-dimensional hormonal response. Ergo, while you can mention lust in a sex-scene, describing it at any great length is like going on about the pattern of the wall-paper in the bedroom. Worth a quick glance, maybe, but essentially boring.

So how do you show the exchange of emotions? Dialogue, expression, or action—that’s about the limit of your choices, and of those, dialogue is by far the most flexible and powerful tool a writer has. What people say reveals the essence of their character.

She makes some valid points: You want to anchor the scene with physical details, but by and large, it’s better to use sensual details, rather than overtly sexual ones. (Just read any scene that involves a man licking a woman’s nipples and you’ll see what I mean. Either the writer goes into ghastly contortions to avoid using the word "nipples"—"tender pink crests" comes vividly to mind — or does it in blunt and hideous detail, so that you can all but hear the slurping. This is Distracting. Don’t Do That.)

So how do you make a scene vivid, but not revoltingly so? There’s a little trick called the Rule of Three: if you use any three of the five senses, it will make the scene immediately three-dimensional. (Many people use only sight and sound. Include smell, taste, touch, and you’re in business.)

Ok, that's all for now. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment