1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Working on balance in a sexual scene

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GingerCoffee, Oct 19, 2015.

    Just want a sounding board.

    I'm trying to balance

    YA that implies more sex than is shown.
    Writing a sexual scene that is intimate but supposed to be disgusting without turning the reader off.
     
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  2. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. In my expirence, not that I have much. I find small details can go a long way.

    One of my favorite phrases to use in a sexual scene it "Toes curling" as in that the passion was so high that the character was practically grabbing stuff with the force of their toes.

    It isn't really a graphic detail but it implies a lot of passion. So it keeps the tone where it should be without turning it into porn. I think.

    Like I said. I am not an expert. People talk too. Like a good way to keep sex off screen but still making it known is just to have characters talk about it.
     
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  3. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    That's a tricky one. Why is it supposed to be disgusting, and how? If it's disgusting because, for example, a really old man is going to have sex with a really young girl, then readers can be turned off quite easily, although there's nothing a good writing can't fix. Or is it because of the act itself? I think the answer to this question should illuminate things a bit.
     
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  4. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Focusing on the emotions and extraneous details might help. Constant, nagging worry over consequences. Anxiety over whether the POV character is "doing it right." Maybe the guy is really sweaty, in that slimy way. BO fighting with Axe body spray, which frankly, smells like toilet cleaner. The fact that teeth weren't brushed before it started.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Disgusting in what sense? The participants are disgusted? Or the reader will be disgusted by what the participants are (joyfully) doing?
     
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  6. NotTonightJosephine
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    NotTonightJosephine New Member

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    Depends what's meant with disgusting vs. intimate. Once some lady I met that very same night, asked me to tie her up. To some folks it might come over as disgusting, but to me personally it rather felt as an embarrassment, as I had to ask her first, to show me how her police hand cuffs work.. and once I told to one of my friends about that embarrassment of mine, he laughed his ass off. To him it was a comedy.
     
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  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not shown but implied? Could you e.g. write the morning-after scene (or a five minutes later scene)?

    Is the MC disgusted? Like she did it with someone she doesn't like but she was drunk or something and ended up doing it anyway? She could feel disgusted with herself and/or with him later on (if she thinks he's gross).

    She's embarrassed after the fact, and goes like "um, I gotta go," with a wad of toilet paper between her legs (too graphic?) or still itching from the rubber (still too graphic?). She might have glimpses of the act itself for a couple of days... weeks... years... And this way you can show what happened in less detail.

    If you do write the scene, whether it's in present time or in restrospect... I guess you'll have to skim over most of it and focus on the detail you deem pertinent?

    I was imagining something like:

    Whole afternoon -- wasted. It was bumpy and elbowy. I can still smell his breath, oddly sulfuric, like he hadn't eaten for hours and had a raging ketosis going on. I must've stood in the shower for half an hour, trying to scrub him off me. Bits (or blobs) of him I wouldn't have wanted in me. I never thought I'd become the woman who just lies on her back dead-bored while the guy is fumbling around between her legs and asking if it feels good over and over again. But there I was. What a waste.

    Yeah, it's not perfect, but just to illustrate what I mean.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Hmm that's a tough one. Especially when it can be taken so many different ways. Sexual abuse, a reluctant virgin, bad sex, a girl who is being coerced or pressured? Something kinky? A prostitute with a john?

    Depends entirely on the pov and what you want the scene to provide for the reader - what are they to get out of the scene?
    If the mc doesn't feel that what he/she is doing is disgusting you could take it from their angle and downplay it. I remember in Flowers in the Attic - when Christopher and Cathy finally get together the scene was rather quick ( the incest played out more from the actual sex to their comfort and holding each other afterwards. ) The focus was on more of how their roles evolved in the book from siblings, to substitute parents for their younger siblings, to a kind of husband and wife that finally consummated their union.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know I didn't give enough information, sorry. It's because I'm not sure myself how I'm going to handle the scene.

    The protagonist is being sold into sexual slavery. I want this in the book because it's something very common and a serious travesty in the real world. I think I can write the degrading aspect of the experience.

    But how far to take it I'm not sure. She gets away before she gets raped (it is YA after all :p).

    The scene has her restrained by several men, her top is off and they are putting their hands on her breasts while discussing the price.

    I'm afraid if I put in too much detail it might sound hokey, and if I don't put in enough, it may not have the impact I want it to have.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rubber Ducky Debugging! In the sense that you sort of just answered your own question.

    Think about it. You need it to be bad, to have impact, but you don't want it to be too bad, as to make a reader give up.

    As for phrases. I don't think any of us can really rate that. You are a good writer. You know the tips already. Which are to refresh your memory.
    - Stay in her POV
    - Stay in her voice
    - Give a reader the sense of dread she feels
    - Give the reader the tactile aspects goes through
    - Every part of it needs a point

    How far you need to go is dependant on way to many things you can't explain. Such as who she is. Because if she is tougher, maybe you need to do more to make her breakdown.

    I hope that helps? :D
     
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  11. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I'm working on a project right now where my MC rescues a girl sold into white slavery. My MC has a rather sordid sex life; she likes rough sex and chooses partners who treat her poorly. I contrast the slave girl's story by having my MC listen to her describe her story of abduction and 'training'. It isn't particularly graphic but my MC finds it repulsive; the reader understands that if the MC thinks its horrid then it must be pretty awful. There is a line between willing and unwilling; one is just a kink, the other is abuse.

    So, for your abuse scene you need to project the line of unwillingness being crossed.

    Same project I have my MC get abducted by the slave trader. She's tied to the rafters and the villain is assessing her as a replacement for the rescued girl. I depict him grabbing her crotch purposefully but with no sexual intent. He also roughly gropes her breast and mutters with disappointment, "Ugh, small tits". These things aren't tremendously graphic from a physical sense but they are degrading which I think is what you need to depict. The victims are simply pieces of meat...a commodity. They are not viewed nor treated as having any feelings or emotions.
     
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  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When I read the "small tits" line, it made me grimace. For me at least, that definitely has the effect you're after!
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yikes. That's awful. Anyway, I think you're good, even if you mentioned breasts 'cause I don't think it's a no-no in YA. Hell, in Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels Mercy actually gets raped -- even though it's YA. The amount of detail would probably depend on what your POV character notices. She could also so panic-stricken everything just becomes a haze. I'm not sure if that's a cop-out, but it might make it more YA friendly.

    And what @ddavidv about the men commenting on her body; that'd make sense if they're planning to sell her. It'd be really degrading to her.

    "So, what do you reckon? She's a virgin, you know."
    "Really? You been sellin' me virgins since day one, but I don't think none of them were."
    "She is, I guarantee it. I checked."
    "Y'know, I've seen colts less bony than this bitch. And you call these tits? More like mosquito bites." He twisted my left nipple between his grimy fingers. I gritted my teeth against a cry of pain. Wouldn't give them the satisfaction. "Where'd you find her, a god damn work camp? I'll give you a hundred..."
     
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