1. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    How do you write sex sexy?

    Discussion in 'Erotica' started by w176, Nov 4, 2010.

    If your of the opinion that sex should be written as discreet or not at all this is the wrong thread for you. I'm of the opinion that striving to avoid writing sex as sexy is like avoid writing horror as scary. Really counterproductive.*

    So do you have any tips on how to write sex in way that fills you stomach with butterflies, makes you blush and makes you wish you where really there,

    Sex is a sensitive subject and this is a international community where some countries and cultures are more prude then others. Lets handle this discussion maturely and the same way as if I asked how to write good horror scenes or something else.

    We can keep the discussion in general themes so no one feels it going too far. Keeping the language of the discussion in general writing terms, like “pacing”, “characterization”, “level of details” and other neutral terms.





    *(Of course not all sex scenes are meant to be sexy, some are meant to be sad and tender and some are suppose to describe really bad and boring sex and so on.)
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    We should also be aware that we have some very young members here.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting that you use horror as an analogy.

    In horror stories, I find that suggestions of the horror as opposed to graphic depictions are more scary.

    Likewise, with sex in fiction, I find that an overt, graphic description isn't really that "sexy." Less is more, often. Of course, you can go too far in the opposite direction, so the scenes are dull and don't stir any feelings or emotions. But I find that one can write an extremely sexy scene without relying on overtly graphic depictions of every last detail.
     
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  4. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    I think it depends a great deal on genre. It would be different writing a scene for an rpg forum than for what is sometimes called a dime romance novel. Let's face it, as the saying goes sex sells. But how much is going to far in a general story? As mentioned above I believe in a general setting less is more. But I would admit to taking a different approach if I were say trying to write a Mance novel.
     
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  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with steerpike about "less is more".

    I think Anne Rice is pretty good at this. The Vampire Lestat is full of erotic undertones between the male vampires.
    She also handles eroticism beautifully in the opening of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (I've only read the first chapter, so don't blame me if the rest is shocking).
     
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  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think sex is a part of any art form and should be explored and expressed in many ways, since its such an important part of being human.

    But when it comes to the actual writing I think one of the keys is building desire. Since this is an ongoing conflict and tension. You often see this done in TV-series and movies. How viewer gets really invested as long as the sexual tension isn't relive, as long as the characters don't get each other you perceive the relationship as sexy and intriguing. But once they gotten each other you lose that sexy tension. And the they often rebuild it by introducing more conflict between the character to once again build the mix of desire, tension and conflict.
     
  7. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think sex and horror is very similar. Somewhat taboo feelings for different reason (fears unmanly etc) and gut level feelings, yet whats scares you or turns you on varies greatly between individual.

    Yet if you mange to write either horror or sex really well is often those scenes have a great payoff and makes a huge emotional impact and influence the whole story.
     
  8. cressida_tt
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    cressida_tt Member

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    Very carefully I think I would reply to your original post. Too much flowery prose and you risk making people laugh and too much gynaecology is a definite no-no. I have seen both in my time writing on the Internet.

    Depends on what you are writing for. If it is a one shot then you can do what you like but if it is part of a story then you have to be very careful to keep it in character. I wrote for a long time in Harry Potter and am permanently scarred I think by some of the out of character things I have read.

    Less is more is a good one - we actually don't need every cut and thrust describing in the nth detail; we can fill in some of the gaps for ourselves otherwise we really shouldn't be reading it. Including some feelings and emotions is also good.

    Check out the Bad Sex Award on the link below. It is well worth it. It is in The Guardian so should be permissable - unless of course you count their reputation for dreadful spelling.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/27/awardsandprizes.badsexaward
     
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  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As I was thinking more about this, the differences between the written word versus visual stimuli jumped out at me. At least from a male perspective, and much of this may hold true for females as well.

    For most men, I think it is safe to say that if you have an erotic photograph or image of someone they find physically attractive (whether a woman, or another man for someone who is gay) it is going to be arousing. You don't need to rely much on the imagination for the physical reaction, because it is all right there on the page or on the screen for the viewer to see.

    In writing, you're necessarily relying more heavily on the reader's imagination. In any area of writing, sex included, I think too much detailed description actually shoves the imagination aside. Every reader will have different images, thoughts, and sensations that arouse them, and by giving the reader just enough for that imagination to kick in, I think you're going to write a much more "sexy" scene than if you write one that is detailed to the point of being clinical or flowery (as mentioned above). And if you include that greater level of detail it is also likely that what you find sexy as a writer, and are describing at length (no pun intended) will not be what a given reader finds sexy. So you've defeated your own purpose.

    Give the reader enough so that each reader's imagination is engaged and they are filling in the details that are most sexy, arousing, etc. to them. That is my approach.
     
  10. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think in general, not just when it comes to sex its easier to imagine the other senses then sight, because in humans sights is human kinds most exact and detailed sense.

    To summon up the picture of a house you need to think up hundreds of details. To imagine a sweet smell, how a punch on you upper arm feels, or a squeaky sound requires a lot less detailed since it one of our less detailed senses.

    So I think if you are going to describe it might be easier to describe other things like motion, smells, sound, touch and temperature then visual details.
     
  11. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like to get a little bit literary with my word choices and sentence phrasing in sex scenes. I find that if the scene sounds a little more profound, then I start to get butterflies. I don't like to use blunt words in sex scenes, (like the P word and such) and I prefer suggesting actions rather than spelling them out. That's not to say that I don't get to the point; I do. I just prefer to do it in a smoother way.

    I also like to talk about smells and sensations, just to make it seem more intimate. Images can only do so much, but what I really want is for the reader to feel like they're in this sex scene.

    This helps to make the scene sound classy and erotic, rather than cheap and trashy. I don't think anybody gets turned on if the writing is trashy and of poor quality.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to see how i did it in couple of short stories, drop me a line and i'll send them to you... hint: the key to pulling it off is to have had enough experience in that line to get it 'right'...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  13. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    Like Islander mentioned earlier, Anne Rice is a very good example of tastefull erotic writing. She leaves most to the imagination, but just were it counts she can be pretty blunt (in a good way)

    Also, and it kind of surprised me that no one has mentioned this here yet, I think there are major differences in sex scenes aimed at women, and sex scenes aimed at men. Research clearly shows that men and women have different things they find stimulating, or attractive. For instance, woman tend to be more attracted to the feelings and romantic side. Like to fill in the blanks themselves, while men usually tend to like things a bit more discriptive.

    A good example, I believe, is the current popularity among women of Boys love, or Yaoi as the original Japanese expression is. Strange as it might sound, this is a gay romance genre that even leans to the erotic side, but is not aiming at gay men, but soley on women. You can clearly see the difference in style between for instance hentai (japanese cartoon porn aimed mainly at men) and yaoi (aimed at women.) The first doesn't usually has much of a plot. No character development etc. while the last does have roubled characters, fights, emotions etc.

    Ofcourse there are always exceptions. Not every man and woman are the same. But I would advise you to think about what kind of sexe you're aiming at. Ofcourse I suppose if it is just a tiny part/scene of the book, it doesn't make too much of a difference.
     
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  14. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just wanna give the whole bunch of you rep. Sensitive subject and everyones handling the discussion so well.

    Personally I written a lot of sex scenes, and partly i think one thing that once you decide to write a sex scene you should do so whole heartedly, not keeping the scene at arms length, giving the reader the impression that you didn't really want to write it. Which i think is one of the other big newbie mistakes, the other is overwrite it either to phonographic or too pink and fluffy.
     
  15. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree; if the sex scene sounds naive, then the mood is lost completely on me. The writer needs to be confident.

    The biggest mistake, I feel, is when a naive writer tries to write about a naive couple on their first time together. From the little I've read, it seemed like the writer was just afraid of getting to the point, and ended up projecting their thoughts and fears onto the page like a diary. I don't think people that are uncomfortable with sex and sexuality should even bother writing it. Sex should be enducational in one way or another, and different everytime you read it.

    Someone who's inexperienced sexually (I'm not saying virgins can't write sex, just that inexperienced people who aren't comfortable with sex do badly) and inexperienced at writing romance will probably struggle the first few times, and until they change their attitude to sex, they won't learn. What's more is the fact that they won't be able to teach until they learn.
     
  16. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Honestly, the best (i.e. most realistic, ones I thought well of) sex scenes seem to be about the people and their relationship in full, not just the sexual aspect of it. Sometimes this is done with a lot of foreshadowing -- a guy sees a woman for the first time and thinks, wow, she's cute. Or two people get to talking, and over the course of the story they see more and more of each other's positive traits.

    Now, this is just my bias, but when two characters have sex the things that stand out most aren't the physical discriptors, but rather the interaction between characters. I mean, it's one thing to have a char using their hands and tongue or whatever. It's another to have them talking beforehand, or during, trying to sort of figure each other out, and doing it in a way that fits the world -- meaning that sex on a blanket on the ground will be different from sex in a narrow inn bed with a strawfilled mattress, and either of those will be different from a pair of lovers timing their lovemaking so as to take advantage of half-an-hour of one-third gravity during a spaceship's scheduled course corrections.

    In sum, if it's about the characters getting off then it's hard to do a sex scene so I'll like it. If it's about the characters in just one aspect of their relationship, I like it much more. (Even in books like the Black Jewels Trilogy, where some of the sex scenes are actually rape scenes; since they're done as just another way the manipulative characters are controlling their underlings, it feels realistic and well-done, even if it's not at all pleasant to read.)

    I don't know how many of you are interested in Speculative Fiction, but there's a book by S.M. Stirling called Dies the Fire which is pretty awesome. It includes sex scenes that are deeply in-character, including an older couple that has to work around the trauma one of them suffered when his wife died in front of him some months before. It's touching, and loving, and makes both the characters even cooler in my mind. And the book is worth reading just for the story.
     
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  17. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    Oh and I forgot,

    If, after you have written the scene, you read it back and it doesn't excite you, it probably won't excite the reader either. If you feel like it's too clinical or too descriptive, the reader will most like feel so too.
     
  18. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it was a great post HeimleinFan.

    The darker aspects of sex is even more sensitive subject. Ranging from the thrill of a bit more edgy and kinky sex than vanilla, to the really hard subjects of rape and abuse. I think that we as writer sometimes write sex scenes in the borderline that in reality might or might not be okay, but do have a place in fiction. For example sex with a hint of anger or a hint of fear has a role to play. Just look a classical works as Dracula, do heavily depend on there themes.

    At the same time i think we should never (or as good as never, there are some extremely rare, good and specific reason) walk in to the territory of glorifying rape or that people should have a "right" to do sexual things to other without 100% consent.

    There are so many other darker aspect of sex still. It just be something as common as cheating on someone and you once again out on thin ice as a writer.

    One author I think handle the darker aspects of sexuality, beautifully, sexy but also always respectfully is Jaquelin Carey.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think HeinleinFan hit the nail on the head - it's really about the relationship between two people. That's where the drama is. That's why I tend to leave most of the actual sex to the imagination of the reader.
     
  20. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Heh, I've been writing a few sex scenes for my NaNoWriMo, and because I'm pressing for word count I've been going a lot more detailed that normal... Hate using the most obvious names for people's naughty parts, but fancy euphamisms annoy me more. Every single one looks wrong on the page. Once NaNoWriMo is over, I'm going through and editing out the rude words, and going back to just characters enjoying being in each other's company. :p

    I'm not shy of writing sex scenes and I can get right through them normally, instead of jumping to the next scene right as they start to get interesting, as I did when I was younger, but sometimes I just can't write them - there was a romance novel I wrote lately and I tried in about three different places to try and place a sex scene, but no matter how lewd my characters talked, the story was too much about them not having sex and the sexual tension, so in the end I had to include any sex at all as a one-sided fantasy, just because I needed it in there to prove I hadn't wussed out at any point. :p

    But what I mean to say is, sometimes not writing the sex can be even more powerful. Everyone who's read that story mentions the powerful sexual tension in it, and I'd rather be playing with that than breaking it and losing a dynamic between the characters that seems to be the key feature of the story.

    Other times I won't tell what happens but make it clear there was a sex scene because I feel it was not important to tell it, and the character interaction leading up to it was more than enough. I write scenes on a basis of "what do I need to tell?" and stop when I have told it, whatever point in the action that happens to be. A lot of the time that is based on the conversations the characters have, so if they shut up talking to have sex, then my normal method of writing a scene feels strained to go through with it, since I like the last paragraph or line of a scene to have a resonance that reflects back on what we learned in the scene, and having the last note being "we learned they like bonking each other" isn't usually what I want to say. :p

    Anyway, that said, I do like writing sex scenes, and, being female-minded, I do mostly focus on the emotions, threads of the storyline running through it, and all the smaller actions around the main, er, thrust of the scene. :p If I am going to write through the whole encounter, then the characters will keep talking - and not just about what they're doing, but the grander plot around them as well.
     
  21. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    I lol'd.

    I think i agree with most of the other characters. I find sex scenes need to be written appropriately to the situation and the characters. I don't think there's a right or a wrong way but i think for it to be shown at all it must have a purpose (as any other point in the plot). If it doesn't further the narrative cut it (unless you're writing an erotic novel that is).

    An an exercise - It'd be interesting to see the same scene written in different ways - one way rough, one way tender, one way forced, one way bored - there's interesting things you can do in a sex scene i guess - shine light on the hidden characters that wouldn't be on display publicly - they're at their most intimate at that point.

    Do the couples harbour a hidden resentment?

    Is the battle hardened (arf!) warrior harbour a tender side?

    Does the upright moral politician have a secret life that he doesn't want anyone to know about?

    Does the businessman enjoy being submissive?

    Is the mousey plain girl secretly a dominatrix?

    How do they interact afterwards - do they hug or does he pull his britches up and walk out to grab some toast leaving her wanting in bed. Lots of potential ways to show the secret and power relationships of couples...

    As for what's sexy - that all depends on you - better to write what YOU find sexy as it will be more authentic. It's hard to fake something like that.
     
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  22. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not unlikely he wants to be pampered, so he can relax from all the responsibility he has in his worklife. Think nurse fantasy or diapers.

    I think it's more likely she's submissive, but she may shock you with what she's willing to try.
     
  23. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Actually some studies show that people tend to diverge to an extreme opposite of what they typically deal with in real life as a way of release, it could be likely that he would seek out a Dominant person, the same goes for your mousy girl.

    In writing these scenes though, my point is you have to show the true nature of your character. Don't wuss out and make the scene irrelevant to your character or plot.

    (And please if your going to write erotica do your homework... or just don't write it.)
     
  24. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, but it may not be obvious what it is a person has to deal with in their life, and what the opposite of it is.

    For example, if the businessman enjoys being dominant, but is forced to take responsibility, there might be need to be released from the latter, but not the former.

    If the mousy girl tries to be unnoticeable as a defense against feeling insecure about herself, being released from the feelings of insecurity could be the stronger of her needs, and letting someone else take control is a way to satisfy it.

    With reservations about every person and situation being different, it's not really possible to predict anything, etc.
     
  25. Agent Vatani
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    Agent Vatani Active Member

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    Normaly when I write romance it's not for adults its' for young adults. But normaly I skip over the sex parts. Through I do put smokey kissing/makeout parts.

    With writing, I picture my self there to get all the scents there. Sight,smell, feel, taste and ect. Through if you want deep detailed sex parts, it won't be better if you had it. That's how I see it, I have read romance so I read it.
    But yes we do have young members here on this site.
     

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