Sunday, February 17, 2013

SCWC: Writing Sex Scenes that Serve the Story

-        There is a time and a place for everything, make sure it's in context.
-        Reveal some emotional vulnerability
-        There needs to be a reason for a love/sex scene.  It needs to be crucial for the plot.  It needs to serve a purpose.
-        Does it create internal/external conflict?  Both?
-        Does it create purposeful tension?
-        How does it play into a characters motivations?  Devious or honest motivations?
-        Does it move the plot forward in ways other elements would not?
-        Is there a better device I could use to make my point?  If yes, then lose the sex scene.
-        Focus on the emotions, what the characters are thinking/feeling.  The act itself is a vehicle, not necessarily the road.
-        Character's mental state can affect the sex
-        Keep your characters IN CHARACTER when they're having sex (as it relates to the plot), otherwise it would distract from the point.  Know your characters so you know their parameters.  How would they react in this situation?
-        It's not always what they do—it's what they don't do.  You don't have to explain every little thing.  Readers are smart enough to read between the lines.  Mounting sexual tension/seduction can be better than the act itself.
-        Is the character having fantasies?
-        Consider the possibility of teasing the reader a little bit.  It's okay to leave the audience wanting more
-        Purpose of the scene: is the character trying to manipulate another character?  Is it love?  Is one in love, the other not?  Filling unidentified emptiness?  Failed judgment?
-        How long is the act?  How many details are revealed?  Can be genre-dependent (sex in a thriller might be  more hurried than in a romance/erotica).  Beware of overkill, don't say the same thing over and over again.
-        Write the sex scene first with as little detail as possible, then add in details later.
-        You don't have to name every body part!  (if you don't want to).  Body parts are distracting. Focus on the emotions/thoughts.  What does the act mean to the character(s)?  How does the character interpret what's going on?
-        Length – plot/genre dependent (sex in a flashback/memory would not go on and on and on)
-        Consider taboo subjects.  Be aware that many publishers/sellers will not accept certain acts (rape, incest, children-involved acts, bestiality)
-        Safe sex—is this practiced in the book?  Consequences if it's not?  Disease, babies, etc. Consider the characters' circumstances (will dictate a lot of decisions).  Religious beliefs, length of relationship, personal morals, time period/era, etc.
-        What will the characters bring to the bedroom?  Emotional baggage?  How will this affect the sex?  Conflict in the bedroom?  Sex addiction?  Unfaithfulness?  Independence vs neediness.
-        THE ORGASM.  Do they happen in the story?  Do you want it in your scene?  Is it important for the connection?  Does it occur in realtime, or does it occur as a flashback/memory.  Do they both experience it?  Does one or both fake it?  If so, why?  This could be a plot element/device. Was the sex an obligation?
-        Post-orgasm.  Do the characters engage in pillow-talk afterward, or do they go cold?  Is there an argument?  Discussion?  Disconnection?  Bonding?
-        A sex scene is like any other scene.  Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone a bit.

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