1. Superevil225
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    Superevil225 Member

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    Writing About Something You Don't Know Anything About

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Superevil225, Jan 29, 2012.

    I've got this huge problem right now. My character has an erotic experience. But... I've got a problem. Many, actually. First off, the book is set in first person. I have no idea what it's like to be a male in that situation. Secondly, I'm a virgin, so I don't know what it's like in that situation in general. Finally, I don't know if I'll be able to write a convincing scene because I'm asexual. I just don't know what it's like to have that kind of connection. It's like asking a straight man to write an intense homosexual scene with two females. It doesn't sound right.

    I keep trying to write this scene, but it doesn't sound real enough. I know I'm going to get a lot of answers saying: You don't know if you don't try it. But I'm 16 and it's not like I'm going to grab a random guy of the street in the name of 'research'. I'm not going into pornographic detail, but I've still got the kissing and caressing to write.

    Do any of you guys ever have this problem? How do you write about something you don't know anything about?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You do have a problem. Why do you feel compelled to write this at this time, with so little personal experience to fall back on?

    I don't recommend faking it, because so much of your readership will see right through it.

    You're in the position of being a European who has never visited the Americas, writing a story set in a village near Vancouver. Worse, because it would be much easier to research reliable information about the area than to collect reliable information to handle sexuality convincingly.

    I know that isn't the answer you are seeking. But it's the best answer I can offer.
     
  3. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    You could try reading some material of the sort you're trying to write.
     
  4. LVOS18
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    LVOS18 Member

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    Write what you know. Either avoid what you don't know or use your own lack of knowledge to approach it in a strange way. I don't know the details of the relationship but you don't need sex to make it seem a strong one- what might be interesting would be what you and your character (as virgins, if that is possible for the character) imagine sex with this partner to be like which could provide an innocent/sworded/comical/romantic image for your reader depending on what you do with it. Or perhaps (if you've had this experience) describe a 'near-miss' situation where the character almost had sex with this other person, but for some reason it failed.

    Those are all just ideas. But it is generally better to write things you are comfortable or familiar with, even if you apply it to an alien situation. Your reader will find your experiences as a virgin more authentic and enjoyable than a forced sex scene. Write around it if you can.
     
  5. twelveninetysix
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    twelveninetysix Member

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    It depends on the basis of the sex. If your character is sexually dominant and experienced, then maybe you have an issue. But if he's younger, or a virgin, or inexperienced, then that's something you can work with. The kind of awkwardness that would arise is probably something that's easy enough to imagine. Alternatively, if the fact that it happened is more important than the actual details, you could just hint at it afterwards.
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    you are 16 so you can't say you are asexual but a vrigin instead.
    asexual means something different.
    I would not concentrate in writing a sex scene if you do not know anyhting about it.
    You understand feelings however and what it is to feel love and attraction towards someone you like.
    So I would concentrate my efforts towards that instead.
    Also what is it you want to achieve with an erotic experience?
    Are you trying to convey a message of sex at a physical level or is it more then that?
    Sex is not necessarily loving or feeling attracted tosomeone but more of a bonus.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Who says you have to write about sex? Focus on the emotions; you don't have to make them both strip and get down to buisness on the bed. Not every romance has to involve sex.

    Plus, who said you have to write from the perspective of a male? You can do female as well. Though I have plenty of female protagonists, I feel more comfortable writing first person through a man's point of veiw because...well...I'm a man.

    But most important thing is to simply read about the subject you don't know about. A lot!
     
  8. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Even if you consider yourself a sexual, you can not say you have never had a sexual encounter. Barring the act of sex, you have more than likely been in situations you have found sexually arousing. Or sexually disturbing. Lean off of those emotions.
     
  9. Superevil225
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    Superevil225 Member

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    @Cacian - I know what asexual means. It means you have no interest in sex, and /sometimes/ romantic relationships. I align with that. But, I digress. Basically my MC is trying to cope with the recent death of his wife. He's unable to make emotional conection with anyone, until he meets this woman who he's instantly drawn to because she resemble his wife. (my MC isn't really mentally stable). He convinces himself that if he persues her, he'll be able to connect with someone, and be able to fall in love again. It's a bit of a mid-life crisis, Sopranos thing going on, where he's just so confused and is seeking comfort in any way possible.
     
  10. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    LOL
    sorry this made me chuckle LOL
    anyway you are it is not about sex but all about feelings.
     
  11. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I see. So he is on a rebound as they say.
    this is perfectly normal but lots of people who lose loved ones also are unable to find comfort in sex act either.
    I think lots do not seek sex but more a physical copmpany to talk to is what I think.
    Sex is secondary. If the person grieving has managed to find a person to talk about their emotions too then sex if it happens is not really eroticism but more of a bonus/not always necessary.
    Eroticism is more of fantasy/fetish type of idea.
    the best ways to seek comfort is to go out more/socialise and meet people who also have lost loved ones for example.
    There are groups set up for people who are grieving/who has just lost someone/divorced/splitup and so on that are easily found via internet.
    they are set for these people to meet/confide/air their feelings and socialise and got out with people who are in the same position.
    I think this is a better route for your character who should eventually meet someone through these social groups.
     
  12. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Cacian, I don't think the OP was requesting advice on how their character should try to get thorugh their emotional turmoil in a more healthy way - if someone wants to write about a serial killer who murders middle aged men who remind them of their father you don't suggest that actually, if they just put their character in therapy to talk over their childhood trauma, then they wouldn't feel the need to kill anymore and therefore there would be no need to write a book about them, do you?

    Get real. You're a little bit out of touch with the purpose of this site, sometimes.
     
  13. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    @Kallithrix- I think we need to keep the arguing out of this. It is the OP's decision on what advice to go on, and there is no wrong answer. The purpose of the site is to provide help to other authors, and whatever help is given should be taken seriously, even if others authors on the site don't agree with it. It is up to the OP to decide what advice to go on. Sometimes, we as authors are blind to other options because we so badly want to do the story the way we have it pictured in our heads.

    @Superevil225- going with what you know is the best way to do things. I, however, have written things that I don't understand, have never experienced, etc. Fantasy authors do it all the time. There's no way to understand how magic physically drains a person, because there is no one on Earth who would know that.
    Therefore, sometimes you have to wing it. Write it out as best you think you can, and have someone with the experience take a look at it. See if they have suggestions. Put it on WF to see what other authors think. That's what I did. You'll find posting a short scene like that will get you responses from people who have the experience. Believe me, most people on the site are very helpful. You'll find what you need.
    If you don't feel like writing it, see if you can find someone else to write it for you. Ask an older friend, someone with the experience. Or, if you're feeling bold, ask an adult to describe it (wouldn't recommend parents. You don't want that image in your head.) Anyway, you have a lot of options, and its up to you to decide. No one else is writing the story, and only you know what would be best.
    And again, have confidence in yourself. That's the best weapon an author can have. You may not have the sexual experience you need to describe this stuff, but you also don't have the other experiences of your MC. I'm sure that didn't stop you on page 1. ;)
     
  14. Dragon Boy
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    Dragon Boy Member

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    There are ways to let the readers know it happened without actually going in details. A very good example is in Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter which is also written in first person. The sex scene was never described : you read about them cuddling, then it skips to the next day and you get in the thoughts of the narrator who tells the reader how much he is disgusted by sex. ( He is a sociopath and understands little about human interactions )

    You could do something similar by alluding to the fact that something happened and what your character thinks about what he's just done. Does he feel guilty for sleeping with another woman so soon after the passing of his wife? A lot must be going on in his head right now and writing in first person give you the latitude to explore this.

    As Stephen King said : Write about what you know !
     
  15. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    You could read the way other authors have rendered it... I guess, but I don't know how much good it would do. If you are truly asexual, I can't imagine you could write a believable sex scene. I mean, it's kind of like a colorblind person writing about the shade of the sky, or something.

    Some authors really don't write sex scenes, they kind of gloss over them or say one or two sentences that indicate the character had sex. Kind of like in movies where instead of seeing the sex, you see the couple getting into bed and then the camera moves to a window curtain blowing in the breeze.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But does this actually have to involve sex or anything related to sex? If the woman, for example, declined to have a romantic relationship, he could still pursue her. If you need them to form a bond, they could form one based on some other experience.

    But in either case, I don't see that you actually need the details of the experience. If you do feel that sex is required, I don't see any problem with a classic "fade to black" and picking up with conversation or other events later. Even if you do feel that someday you need that more explicit scene, I don't see anything wrong with skipping the writing of it now - there's no rule that requires you to write a book in order, and when you depict their interaction afterward, that might help you to decide what happened before.
     
  17. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Yes he is. Reread his post. Here is his quote:
    that is totally different from someone losing their wives.
    One is wanting to commit a crime and the other is grieveing.
    Two very different situations here.
    Please understand what the two differences are.
    yes you can. I can write a book showing that someone with a traumatic past who was wanting to commit crime went from wanting to become a murderer to becoming a totally changed person.
    I could show that throught out the phase he was going through,new challening events of an exciting nature started to happen in his life, that took his mind of kiilling, and helped overcome the need to hurt somebody to becoming a new changed person.
    Why not? There are thousands of ways of looking at thing.
    Your way is to go the obvious that we all know already about whihc killing.
    and my way is going the opposite way which is a totally new way, albeit it boring to you, and thatis of overcoming evil over good.
    There are more then two ways to a story.
     
  18. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Yes and No.
    I sometimes write about what could be and not always something we know about.
    For example I can make up something that does not exist in real world in order to fit around my story.
    For example I came you with an international culture which is unknown to us because we only talk about different cultures.
    So I invented the concept because it fitted my story.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think so.

    Cacian, again, most people don't want to write books where life is perfect and all problems are solved in the best way possible. I really doubt that the OP is looking for the most un-eventful, peaceful way for his character to deal with that character's wife's death. If that character didn't have problems, there'd be no reason for the book.

    As a general example, the authors of murder mysteries don't write those mysteries because they're unable to think of a way that the character conflicts can be resolved peacefully. They _don't want_ those character conflicts resolved peacefully. They want a character to commit a murder. If that doesn't happen, there's no book.

    ChickenFreak
     
  20. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh? Some of the best F/F scenes I've read to date were all written by (seemingly) straight men. ;)

    Also, I write M/M romance and ero - some of which has been published -- and I'm female. Although when I started writing in this genre I was halfway through a seven-year gender identity crisis.



    Given that you have no experience with it then it's something you're going to need to seriously think about. Is the scene absolutely necessary? What do you want to convey by showing the details, rather than just implying it? How will this affect the following scenes?
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    scroll back up and reread cog's wise words... i can only echo them...

    drop this one and work on something you know something about... such as being a mid-teen with no sexual experience in a world where most kids your age have some to plenty!... instead of trying to imagine what sex and love and being married would be like...

    love and hugs [the maternal kind!], maia
     
  22. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    My advice for this is quite simply use the fade to black. It's what I use if I write a sexual encounter in my story. Just write a sentence demonstrating the intent of the encounter and one indicating the afterglow... like "His arms tightened against me, pulling me closer into his body. The gentleness of his kiss offset by the sudden power of his grip, within minutes we were in his bed..." then bring in something like "The sun from the open window beat down on my eyes, the light picking up the details of his skin, his eyes closed in a deep sleep. But of course he'd worn himself out now hadn't he? I rolled over to check the time, then reconsidered. I'd rather not know how little time I had left with this man who I had trusted with the most intimate secrets of my being". But you need to remember that it's a good idea to focus on the emotions, don't go into graphic detail as I assume you don't want to write erotica. It's better to focus on the emotion than the act itself.
     
  23. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I agree.
     
  24. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    You could try watching some porn with a pen and a pad and take notes :)
     
  25. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Don't like to be a wet blanket, but I think you are in over your head on several different levels. Sex, marriage, loss of spouse, and mid-life crises are all things that we, as writers, come to know best through observation and experience. I don't agree with those who suggest that you see how others have dealt with such subjects, because without your own experience with which to leaven it, you will only be able to parrot what others have written and I doubt very seriously that you want to do THAT. I'm not saying you have to experience all of the things I mentioned in order to be able to describe them, but you need a greater well of experience fron which to draw. For example, you characterize what he is going through as a mid-life crisis. A mid-life crisis is a term that usually denotes anxiety over aging, a realization that one has lost one's youth, and is usually marked by an attempt to recapture one's youth, usually by engaging in activities usually associated with the young (or one's younger self). A friend of mine splashed out for a new bass guitar. My sister got a tattoo. Some men buy sports cars, or suddenly get into drugs, or divorce their wives and marry (or just take up with) much younger women. I've known a few men and women whose spouses have died, and my own oberservation has been that grief would tend to suppress any mid-life grasping at lost youth.

    At 16, you are still growing, both physically and emotionally. You may be (and I suspect you are) more mature than many others your age, and so you have an interest in writing about more adult topics. I think that's great, but I just think that in this case, you are probably in over your head. You need more time to observe as well as experience. So, my advice would be to continue to work on plot line and things of that nature, but to regard this project as more appropriate to take on a few years down the road.

    Best of luck.
     

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