1. TheSleepyKitten
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    TheSleepyKitten New Member

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    Writing sexual attraction

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheSleepyKitten, Apr 24, 2012.

    'Lo, sorry, I tried searching to see if other threads were already made but don't think it turned up anything... Also, despite the title, I hope it doesn't too inappropriate or anything since it's just the attraction. ^^;

    Uh how to explain...

    To the point - I'm asexual so I'm not confident in writing characters that have a sexual attraction to another character. I can do the romantic angle, but not visceral or... well, just desiring someone. Considering this is a very common feeling, I don't want to completely avoid it when it comes to writing characters and their developments. Any tips? Metaphors or typical reactions.

    And sorry if this was on the wrong board or not proper, this was a question that was nagging me for a while but I had nowhere to really ask. ^^;
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Don't worry, I have seen more explicit questions than yours, so I think you are safe :)

    If there is plot/character development involve than you have to include it, of course.

    The simplest way I can explain the feeling of sexual desire is the feeling you have when you are kissed by someone for the first time. You feel a bit nervous, may be you also feel afraid, but you don't want to end it, and you day dream about it for days and weeks. If you are sexually attracted to someone even a slightest touch, say a handshake, will trigger many sensations. Hmmm I should stop before I sound like a pervert :)

    For writing a sexual desire of a character the best way to go is the 'show, don't tell' approach. Don't just jump into the character's head and list what are the things he/she finds attractive in the other character. Let the character take note of, say, the perfume the object of his/her desire is wearing. May be you can mention how he/she lingered( or wanted to linger) a bit longer when they shake hands.

    Finally, read some good romance novel.
     
  3. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditto.
     
  4. bibliolept
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    bibliolept Member

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    I think purely sexual attraction is like wanting a slice of cake or a really juicy piece of fruit. You see that fruit display and you're thinking, "Gee, that peach must be really juicy. I wonder what it'll feel like when I bite into it", so on and so forth. Sexual desire, in my experience, isn't really much different than the desire for other things. You get physical reactions from wanting a book (smelling it, touching the cover...) or the thrill of hearing the first song of an album you really like. You get chills, goosebumps, things like that. It's just that sexual desire tends to be a little more... southerly.
     
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  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Until you experience sexual attraction for yourself, I don't think you'll be able to capture it well on paper. I am sorry if this is not an answer you were looking for, but it is the truth. This is because sexual attraction is unlike anything else - it makes you feel it in your loins, in your heart, in your head. The desire absorbs and can ache, it can distract you so much that you can't carry on doing what you were doing, until it passes or gets satisfied. It is a very intense, primal feeling which can't be experienced vicariously. However, from a fairly young age people feel it, so I am not quite sure what "asexual" means, but whatever it means, I think you'll know it when it happens. Keeping in mind that sexual attraction and actual intercourse aren't the same thing. One can have one without the other.
    Good luck with your story!
     
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  6. bibliolept
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    bibliolept Member

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    I disagree. A lot of people have never experienced being drowned before, or being stabbed, or stabbing someone, or, hell, dying, but a lot of people have carried it off really well. I think the imagination is a powerful thing. Also, I think there are different degrees of sexual attraction, but it really is just desire romanticized by the mind and magnified by the genitals.

    Asexuality means that someone is uninterested in sex or that they have a lack of sexual orientation. That means, unless the OP's orientation (or lack thereof) magically changes, she/he probably will not just randomly experience sexual attraction. The desire for sex and physical attraction to someone is different in that asexual people may still experience arousal by, say, watching pornography, but may not necessarily want to participate in the act. Etc. There's a lot of information about it on the internet. Learning about this stuff is actually pretty cool.

    I think reading well-written romance novels or even erotica is a good idea. :)
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @bibliolept: Sex is a basic human need, experienced by pretty much everyone. Drowning ISN'T. Re dying - nobody who died is able to write about it, so nobody will know what its like hence, nobody will come off looking silly if they get it wrong. Same with science fiction and fantasy.

    All I can tell you is that my advice was well meant and realistic. You may choose to believe anything you want, but I am pretty sure that anyone who felt sexual attraction will be able to tell if someone who wrote about it hadn't. Hence no suspended disbelief, hence a bad story.

    I have mentioned in my comment that experiencing desire and actually having sex are two different things. Psychologically speaking, one is asexual only if they have no interest in sex whatsoever and do not get aroused. Such people are extremely rare. That's why, regardless of whether one had sex yet or not, a writer should draw on their own experience. Pornography itself, in my opinion, is not a god resource because it focuses on visually aiding male satisfaction (most of the time) and as such is devoid of any other meaning.

    I agree that good romance novels are a better resource.
     
  8. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Wow, being asexual must SUCK. (and not in a good way) ;)

    I cannot imagine what it's like not to feel sexual attraction... I cannot even explain what sexual attraction IS. But I think the food analogy was actually pretty good. Sometimes, you just get it into your head that you NEED a particular kind of food, and you cannot think of anything else until you have satisfied that craving. Women often use this sex/food craving analogy in reference to chocolate. For some people, it's cheeseburgers.

    Why you get a craving for a particular food, or feel sexually attracted to any particular person, is a bit of a mystery - mostly its just personal preference. But when it comes to female sexual desire it's not purely physical, because it can be triggered by certain character traits as well - like confidence, charm, wit... there are an infinite number of qualities that women find attractive.

    I cannot speak for male sexual desire, but I think it's a bit more physical in general ;)
     
  9. simplyrachel
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    simplyrachel Member

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    best way to write about sexual attraction in my opinion is to be as descriptive as possible :p
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    kitten...
    if you want examples of two very different types of sexual attraction, email me and i'll be glad to send you a couple of short stories from my 'old life' that contain pretty graphic depictions of same, that avoid slipping into the porn variety...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  11. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I actually prefer being asexual - saves me a lot of angst. Plus most sex activities sound extremely gross, and I can't imagine wanting to do something so gross. Genitals are pretty much by definition gross, in my opinion. I always wash my hands after any contact with that region, after all.

    If you've never felt it, you can't miss it. Sex may be a lot of fun for people who are into that sort of thing, but it holds no appeal to me.

    Plus I have other joys that normal people miss out on. I've never seen a non-autistic person experience the 'obsessive interest glee' that I experience when I read a particularly interesting medical journal or something like that. I would be very sad if I lost my obsessive interests (which I have at times, when I'm extremely stressed out or depressed). But I don't make the mistake of assuming someone who has never felt this feeling is unhappy as a result.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Preemptive warning: Please do not make this into a debate about Asexuality.
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yay, Lemex is a mod!! Congratulations :)
     
  14. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox. Just bugs me to get unwanted pity.
     
  15. TheSleepyKitten
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    TheSleepyKitten New Member

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    Phew~
    Mm, it's not something I can just avoid since it's pretty common and the cast has teenagers. ^^;
    I think that's what I was worried. Just throwing in "and this person A was attracted to this person B because... something!" I guess the character noting little things like that would help imply attraction without stating it.
    Hm... I just realized I haven't read any good romance novels. Finding one that would have good gradual romantic build up would help me pick out phrases or paragraphs...

    Ah, so I can relate a bit! I get those feelings when I see AMAZING cheesecake, or hold a brand new video game with its new cover smell~

    That's a good way of putting it into words, thank you.

    Which I'm trying to avoid... I could avoid having any type of sexual attraction/crushes whatsoever, but that would feel unrealistic if all the cast members were like that. I could always change the setting so it would make more sense buuut, it's still something 99% (98.5%, depends on the survey) of people experience and I feel bad I can't capture the sensation. ^^;

    Thanks, expect an email shortly. ^^v

    It's okay, I can't really explain it either. ^^; It's pretty much a typical normal life, but you don't develop sexual attractions to people (or crushes.) You can fall in love romantically - some do like kisses/cuddles - but you just have zero desire in having sex or getting that intimate. You can not see someone in a sexual manner/sexy, but you can appreciate their body if it is aesthetically pleasing.

    Thank you everyone for your posts! I feel silly since it's a common sensation. If there's any romantic book recommendations, I'll gladly look into it.
     
  16. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Sexual desire easily overrides other drives. This includes reason. Geniuses who are cold and calulating in their normal lives suddenly act like horny teenagers when someone they are attracted to shows up or rejects them. Take a look at the case of the NASA astrounaut who drove hours wearing a diaper to confront her man. An asexual person simply will not understand such a level of obsession, which can only be fueled by both biological and psychological needs. I am a level-headed person most of the time, except when the ladies and the occasional guy pops up. For most people the sexual drive is a cornerstone of their personality. Not the sole defining attribute, but certainly an important one.

    Also men and women behave different ways, even after cultural differences are factored out. Even over cultural boundaries, for example, women have more variability in what they find physically attractive in men. That is why you see hot women with goofy looking guys. To those women, those men are hot. It is not simply their personality. They simply find skinny metrosexuals attractive, as one example. Men, by comparison, focus on a narrower set of characteristics. Also, boobies are awesome. Men are also more visual oriented. It is what they notice first. And men know when they find a woman attractive. We pretty much think "Man, I would like to put my penis in that."
     
  17. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Interesting enough, I have the exact opposite problem: where all my romantic relationships are based on pure sexual attraction because I'm aromantic. But as for the OP problem, I would suggest reading a lot of romantic novel with graphic scenes, pick good ones for Merlin's sake, and the analogy to food is actually pretty close. Perhaps you could check out on the internet about the biochemistry part of the sexual attraction -- there are documentaries about that, I just can't say them right now.
     
  18. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    Though there are many common factors, sexual attraction is unique to individuals. There are of course some chemical factors but most people focus on visual characteristics. Their is also the charisma factor that some people have. It all adds up to a feeling of attraction. You just have to know or be close to that person. Often we don't even realize all the things that are making us attracted to a specific person. Of course, usually we're aware of a few attributes that get our attention.

    There are studies that indicate, in general, attributes that make people attractive. A web search will give you a number of them. Sexual attraction is complicated because there are so many factors that can affect people. You can even know someone their entire life and never think of them in a sexual manor but one day fall madly in love.

    The best you can do is just think of the things you think are attractive about people and what attributes you admire. If you had a sexual nature, those would likely be the things that would attract you.
     
  19. Breaker
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    Breaker New Member

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    ....
     
  20. Breaker
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    I want to add my opinion and my feeling of sexual attraction. This is a very interesting topic for me. I can't compare my sexual desire with an apple or an orange or a cake or anything which is a food, it's good in some points but it's not complete explanation of the feeling.

    I think asexuality is a very interesting thing, I met one girl who is asexual and I was surprised when I noticed that she never talk about boys or girls or anything connected to sex, like she's no interested and she doesn't bother her with that stuff. In some way, I felt her and I imagine how calm she was and how less stressful she is (or at the moment it just looked that way). She just enjoys other stuff much more than regular person, and she's really good at it. I enjoy her company a lot. :)

    Also I disagree that you can't understand sexual desire if you didn't experience it, you can, but it takes a lot of effort and great understanding skills, open mind and a great comparing example and also a several different opinions and examples, so I think that this topic is great

    So, let's get to the point. Sexual desire or attraction is not only to satisfy your own needs. Sometimes I caught myself being very very satisfied and happy when I see my partner enjoys our intercourse and it feels nice that you are making him/her satisfied. For me it's mutual feeling and when you say that you want to "taste a piece of cake" it's sounds to me like you are doing some meaningless sex, treat a person as an object or something, take mutual advantage of someone. The comparison with a food or fruit (we all know for metaphor "the forbidden fruit") is good, but as I said above, not complete. It has more than just "wanting to take a bite".

    The looks, dancing for example, approaching to the person, desiring him/her, the touching, the expressing of mutual physical and emotional feelings are also the key. When you see or feel someone is answering your moves or your looks, it makes you feel nice. You don't need to talk, you just enjoy the feeling. You want to be satisfied and to satisfy someone. To be one with someone. To feel her or his genitals. To see an expression on her or his face, to see he or she is happy. And to make you happy, to feel desired, to feel wanted, to feel beautiful, you want someone to say you that without words, but with acts. With the "sexual attraction" dance. Also, the feeling of rejection is very unique, sometimes you reduce your desire, but sometimes you get the syndrome "why I can't get this, I want it, I want it" and you get very aroused and it becomes your "forbidden fruit"

    Also, I'm more of a emotional kind of person, so I enjoy emotions a lot, that's why sexual attraction to me means not only simple need, but even more. The game you play and the intellectual seduction, the mind games are also nice.

    Further more, look at sexual attraction like a present you really really want. You saw it in an shop-window. You think about it, you finally get the chance to buy it or someone to buy it for you, you think how it looks like, it looks nice on the outside (the box in which the present is wrapped or the box of a product, or a cage for a pet with a pet in it), but you want to see what's inside (sorry for this sounding bit pervy, I'm trying the best to describe my feeling), to feel it, to hold it in your hands. But don't look at that present as a object which you will "use" and then forget about it. Well, some cases are like that, but maybe imagine a pet, a living creature which have needs and requires caring and handling, a kitten, you want to love a kitten and to give everything to it, you want him to feel nice, and you want to feel that the kitten is happy. (Okay, now I sound like a zoophil, sorry for pun), but I hope that you'll get a point, and yes, the sexual desire is kinda a messy and tricky subject because the most affairs and cheating comes out from this, so you need to control it sometimes. Sometimes it makes you do things you thought you will never do, just because you instinctively felt you want something. It can be surprising, and it can be scary. It can make you question your personality, or it can make you try something new. It can make you question your current relationship. Or it can lead you to a perfect other-half for you. It can show you that you are weak. It can show you that you are strong, also. That you can feel other people, that you can feel someone is caring for you. Okay, I'm starting a deeper philosophy and topic.

    And sometimes, when you open the present, you don't feel as nice as you thought you would (because in your head it was way too better) but on the other hand, sometimes you get really surprised and you liked a book even though the covers are bad. ;)

    Enough from me... I was just telling general facts about it, resulted from my experience and from experience of others. Hope I helped a little bit. Can't wait to hear more opinions. Great topic, great forum. I'm also a new member.
     
  21. Kesteven
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    Kesteven Member

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    I think other people have done a pretty good job of describing sexual attraction, so I don't really have anything to contribute on that front.

    But I do believe that not having experienced something IS a significant barrier to writing about it well. Crucially, a difference in experience between writer and audience will usually show; it's important to bear in mind that most of the audience has never died or been shot either, and people who have were often a bit busy to devote much thought to the matter, so it's easier for authors to sound convincing. Lust, on the other hand, is something that almost everyone experiences, powerfully, on a daily basis, and to which much musing and poetry has been devoted, so if there is anything awkward or 'off' about the description it's more likely to get noticed.

    When there is a difference in experience though, research is exactly the right thing to do, so good job Kitten. As long as you follow the advice people have given above, and get people with both lusting and writing experience to check over scenes to make sure they're not weird, you should be fine. Also try not to overdo it- unless you're thinking of dealing directly with sexual themes, occasional flirting and vague references to characters' inclinations should be plenty. You might even be able to get away with purely romantic references, a lot of family-friendly works do just that and in my opinion are often better for it.

    I'd also like to say that asexuality sounds awesome and if we had a simple, reversible and side-effect-free way to eliminate sexual desire I would very much consider taking it. I'm sure it would triple my productivity, at least. And that's when I don't have a partner.
     
  22. Breaker
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    Breaker New Member

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    But sometimes your productivity can be aroused with a partner ;)
     
  23. TheSleepyKitten
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    TheSleepyKitten New Member

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    Mm, I do think all the posts pretty much covered anything. Thank you so much for your opinions and ideas, everyone! (If there's anything else that could be added, or think you be added, feel free. ^^v)
     
  24. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do get the feeling that writing about sexual attraction without ever having felt it would be like describing food if you have no sense of taste. The feelings would all be borrowed.
    So, I disagree about it being possible because 'you have never felt what it was like drowning, or being stabbed.' In those examples, we tap into the fear and pain the person must feel--we tap into something. BTW, I hate to be sceptical, but are you serious? You have never felt attracted to anyone, regardless of sex, ever? I can't remember when I was first attracted to someone, but I was probably about 9. I'm so sorry for you I could weep...I hope the moment comes in time.
    Don't rely on formulaic romance novels to tell you what the feeling is like. Read the good stuff to get a faint inkling.
     
  25. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    Being in love can stop people from thinking straight. We often also make mistakes because of love. Just some random thoughts that come to mind :).
     

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