Friday, August 08, 2008

Be a sex-writing strumpet Pt 13

***Insert generic disclaimer***

More on chemistry and character, and opening to questions

Okay, a couple of things first. Today my older daughter Princess is seven. Which means I’m posting this and will be away pretty much all day, so if you ask a question in comments please be patient.

Also, Monday is my birthday (groan). I will be posting Emily Veinglory’s guest post then, on how submissive men can be sexy too and some ways to bring that dynamic into the relationship. It’s such a good post it actually made me consider writing a less dominant man, honestly.

Now. Several people pointed out to me on Wednesday that the Sharon Kay Penman scene didn’t do it for them. Several more mentioned that if they knew the characters better, it probably would have.

Which is exactly the point that I’ve made here, a few times (and I’m not being bitchy; I was really pleased to see those comments because A. It proved me right, and I do so love to be right; B. It shows y’all are really paying attention; and C. It shows you guys are really absorbing and feel comfortable speaking up—you’re really getting your own ideas on what works and what doesn’t, and what you would do differently, and why something does or does not work for you. Which is AWESOME.)

Remember the “bold statement” in the “Chemistry” post of July 18th? There were two of them, actually; the first was “A sex scene is the culmination of everything the hero/heroine have done, said, and been through together from the moment they meet (or the moment the reader meets them)”.

The second was “Your Hero/heroine should react to and interact with each other. If they don’t do that, nobody’s going to be interested in seeing them have sex.”

This is where erotic romance has a bit of an advantage, simply because it is so graphic, and the more graphic a scene is, the easier it is to turn someone on with it.

But every sex scene is hotter if the reader is involved, and I chose those two exaples to illustrate that point. You can—and should—involve them with evocative language, with rhythm, with imagery (we’re doing that next week), with a little dialogue, with emotion, sensation, and thought; there are lots of ways to do it and lots of little tricks you should be using. But the number one most important point is to emotionally involve the reader before the sex occurs.

Now, I appreciate this is my blog, and my work, and I’m obviously not posting it for critique—what would be the point? Blood Will Tell was published over a year ago; Eighth Wand ten months ago. It’s not like I’m going to go back and edit them at this point, not when they’ve each already sold several thousand copies in ebook format. BUT. I expect that each and every one of you noticed something missing in the scenes I’ve quoted (perhaps not as much with the Eighth Wand scene, as it was a dialogue-heavy scene and I gave you some background first.) But certainly Monday’s BWT scene—especially as it too was a very emotional scene, actually—suffered for lack of your personal emotional involvement with the characters.

Remember what we said the other day, about the difference between pornography and erotica/erotic romance? The difference is emotion. A sex scene without emotion, no matter how well written, is just a cheap thrill. You must involve the reader first. You must make them anticipate.

Now, again, we’re starting to really reach a point where the topics are so intertwined it’s hard to separate them. I don’t want to go too much into foreplay, because we’re doing foreplay in depth week after next. We’ve already discussed chemistry and emotion, but we still need to view everything through those lenses. And it’s hard to talk about imagery and allusion here when we’ll be doing them next week, along with actual mechanics—what goes where when, how to avoid making it sound like somebody has three hands, that sort of thing.

So honestly? I think I’m going to cut this one short. I feel kind of guilty about that, because I try to give you 1500 words and this is just over half that. But it’s two am here (I was baking and decorating a birthday cake, plus I’m an insomniac), and I have to be up at like eight in the morning for the birthday stuff. So I hope you guys can forgive me.

Also, I’m opening up to questions. I won’t be able to answer them until later, but I’m five hours ahead of the East Coast (US) anyway, so what the heck. Ask anything you like, and I’ll answer it as soon as I can.

Here’s a thought/suggestion as well. Think about what you think is your weakest point as far as writing sex goes. Leave it in comments, so if I haven’t covered it or touched on it and don’t have it in my loose plan for the rest, I’ll know to fit it in.



laughingwolf said...

happy b'day, #1 child, and her mama!

i'm on atlantic time, here in halifax, so ahead of many, also

as for weaknesses in my stuff, it's the intimate details you outlined earlier... monday?

have a great weekend!

Bernita said...

Yup, sympathy/empathy for the characters usually needs to be well laid before the characters are.
Unless you're one of those writers who can manage it ista.

Charles Gramlich said...

Happy bday to Princess. One of my writing groups really brought home the "emotion" connection for me yesterday when I was worried that a chapter I had written didn't have enough forward action and they told me they loved the emotion of the piece.

Seeley deBorn said...

Woo hoo! Happy barfday to you and the kid!

My weakness is the emotion. I'm not an emo-girl and I always feel like I'm bordering on sappy. I like to let people interpret emotions from action, but in romance that doesn't work. I have to lay it all out, which I don't like doing.

BernardL said...

The emotional lead in to the scene will always be a problem, and I think in my case, practice is the only answer. :)

laughingwolf said...

come get your award....

kirsten saell said...

Happy Birthday!!!!