Further to the thread about male POV, just thought I'd confess here that I've given up writing actual sex scenes, though I create the atmosphere that leads up to them. My reason is that I find them laborious to write and rarely enjoy them or believe them in other people's writing.
Today I came upon this quotation in the newspaper, from "The Sexual Life of Catherine" by Catherine Millet, which somewhat put me off from reading the whole book.
"The more I stick my arse out towards him, the more I can fantasize that my arse has taken on the autonomy normally attributed to the head because it is the seat of thought which lives on independent from the rest of the body; and thus my arse is the counterpart of my head."
I think she's slightly disappeared up it, there - though I daresay that Millet's passage will be more attractive in the original French.
Perhaps it is lost in translation
I guess you didn't need a cigarette after writing them in the past.
Re: Perhaps it is lost in translation
I think the issue with that is (not necessarily sex):
Are agents and editors going to start wanting more of it in our works? Are they going to want more cross-genre slant to pieces they accept?
I was surprised when I was asked to beef up the romance in my espionage piece.
Re: Boogop - Bond Girls
No, the issue isn't sex, which is a wonderful and interesting thing in itself, but the writing it inspires. The question is: can one describe sex well? If you are very direct and plain, then the result might seem crude. If you use metaphors and flowery expressions, on the other hand, that might seem risible. Millet here seems to want to analyse the sex at the same time as describing it. But in real life we tend to analyse sex afterwards, if at all, not during the act, so to me this extract seems artificial, as well as, on close inspection, nonsensical.
In Britain we have something called the "Bad Sex" awards, for the most absurdly written sex scenes of the year.
Re: Boogop - Bond Girls
Writting erotic literature (not pornographic literature)is an art form that has basically been forgotten.
True eroticism is in the mind. To write about it involves double entendres, clever phrasing, and bedroom etiquitte. The actual physical act, unless written with panache will be tedious and boring.
Sex is like french pastry. A little goes a long way. Too much makes you sick.
Sex is also like a fox hunt. The chase is far more rewarding than the capture.
Glen T. Brock
Hmmm. I think I'm going to have to go with (forgive me) "different strokes for different folks" here. I like both reading and writing sex scenes, and if it counts for anything, have been told that mine are both romantic and erotic. I certainly wouldn't bill myself as mistress of a lost art, however...
I'm with you, Marlys.
So to speak. But "sex scene" is a description almost as imprecise as "conversation." There's all kinds.
If we're talking fiction (I hope), sex scenes are just like every other aspect of the novel or story; i.e., it must justify its existence. Whatever kind of plot there is, the SS must advance it.
Does it represent a turning point? A resolution of a problem? The introduction of a new problem? (he's sleeping with his boss's wife) An affirmation? (they're still in love) An ending? (it's no longer fun) Does it reveal a clash of wills? A discovery of how their wills mesh? An expression of brutality?
What frequently turns off a reader is when the sex scene gives too much information. It becomes clinical, like the description of a pelvic exam. Or when too many turgid adverbs and adjectives gum up the story. Or conversation that's copied word-for-word from a soap opera. All those mistakes make the scene boring.
On the other hand, if a novel has galloped along giving deep insight into the minds of its characters, and bam! The bedroom door is shut in the reader's face, he or she's liable to say, no fair! That can be a supremely emotional moment (or half hour, or...well anyway) and to leave the reader out of their feelings and dialogue can seem like cowardice on the author's part. We're likely to think, "Grow up!"
Consistency, then, is important throughout a work of fiction. Tough to do, of course. When we write, we're liable to gloss over parts we're not familiar with, or not interested in, or uncertain we can do well. But it's important to try.
So long live sex. And exercise. And sunny days. And fine wine. And good meals and good beer. And sex. And books that have everything.
Thanks for that rousing (not) rendition of Millet's fantastical literary genius. Okay, maybe not that either. When I first read about the barely (REALLY no pun intended) anticipated release of her memoirs many months ago, I could hardly contain myself (again, npi). I did manage to keep from hitting the loo and emptying my innards but somehow, her escapades just don't seem to measure up to Moll Flanders. Where can I get a nomination form for those 'Bad Sex Awards'? She should be a shoo-in!
I agree that sex scenes are incredibly difficult to write and it takes a certain sensitive approach to the art (the sex not the writing thereabout). It requires that we view our writing, as well as 'the art of love' from a more intimate perspective. I don't know that it can be taught, you just have to learn to feel it from the inside and see it from the outside. (Terribly voyeuristic, eh?)
Obligatory Sex Scene
This discussion (especially Glen's posting) reminded me of something Alexandra Ripley ([i]Scarlett,</> Charleston) said to me--all the funnier to me because Ripley as a Gypsy Rose Lee type of person (meaningful, I guess, only to those of you old enough to remember Gypsy Rose Lee). She said she always gets her manuscripts back from her agent because she hasn't put in at least one obligatory sex scene. But that she always makes them come back for it, because she isn't able to get through writing such a scene without breaking down into giggles over how silly and ludicrous the scene (and the act) turns out.