dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
Dira Sudis ([personal profile] dira) wrote2014-02-07 05:03 pm

Meme: February 7: Writing sex scenes

February 7: [livejournal.com profile] nuit_belle wanted me to talk about writing sex scenes.

Ummm. Hm. I used to hate it a lot more than I do now, but writing sex scenes is still one of my least favorite parts of writing, which I suspect, like my more specific resistance to writing het sex scenes, has something to do with my ace feels around sexual situations. Sex scenes are also, unlike plot or action sequences or villainous characters, something that I nonetheless persist in writing into a lot of my stories. And, happily, I've been getting more relaxed and having more fun writing sex scenes in the last year or two.

One of my few useful insights into the process of writing sex scenes was that I needed to stop waiting for the words to sound sexy to me--I'm always too conscious of the process and effort of the writing to find the written scene sexy myself. I realized that I had to just get out of my own way, and describe the action (including the emotions involved and the sensory details) as straightforwardly as possible; the reader would find that sexy if the words translated to a sexy picture in their head, and if they didn't at least I wasn't getting in my own way trying to find magically alluring words for things. That took some of the pressure off, writing-wise, I think.

The other thing that I think about a lot when writing sex scenes is some advice [personal profile] resonant gave once, which is that you have to identify what the sexy element, the zing, is in the scene, and that links up in my head to the idea that a sex scene has to be doing something. I mean, far be it from me to dismiss the joy of a sex scene that is there just to turn the reader on, but especially when it's embedded in a long story, I want a sex scene to be serving a purpose or I'm not putting it in there. My stories are prone to be plenty long enough without sex-scene padding. In Hawks and Hands (which I gave up and summarized as "eighteen sex scenes strung together with angst and hockey") every one of those eighteen sex scenes is doing some kind of work in the relationships playing out in the story; in that story the characters communicated a lot better through sex than with their words, so sex was how they comforted each other, how they demonstrated their growing intimacy, how they showed trust and love. On the other hand in You Drive Through the Dust I found myself floundering around toward the end because I felt like there really ~ought~ to be another sex scene in the happy ending section; but when I thought about what kind of relationship work I wanted the scene to do, and what would demonstrate the intimacy and ease the characters had developed with each other, it wound up being a scene of Nate and Brad going surfing instead.

I do also find myself pretty regularly in the place of, like, I DON'T KNOW, I THINK I HAVE USED UP ALL THE WORDS FOR DESCRIBING BLOWJOBS, I CAN'T WRITE ANOTHER BLOWJOB, THERE ARE NO WORDS LEFT. That's when I have to focus really hard on the unique emotional content of the scene, or what's going on in the relationship and how to show that through the sex, because, seriously. There are only so many words to describe blowjobs and at some point in the last (ye gods) 11 years, I'm pretty sure I have tried just about all of them.
kass: Brad Colbert from Generation Kill. (GK)

[personal profile] kass 2014-02-08 11:58 am (UTC)(link)
describe the action (including the emotions involved and the sensory details) as straightforwardly as possible; the reader would find that sexy if the words translated to a sexy picture in their head

That is a great way to phrase it. Thank you!

And it totally works, from the reader's POV. When I am in love with a pairing, I find everything they do sexy -- Nate could be drinking a cup of coffee and I would be going guh.
sperrywink: (Default)

[personal profile] sperrywink 2014-02-08 12:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I know what you mean about the words not sounding sexy. My sex scenes don't read as sexy to me either. I'm too conscious of where their hands are (and how many they have!), and other technical details.
mmegaera: (Default)

[personal profile] mmegaera 2014-02-09 12:04 am (UTC)(link)
And this is why I tend to close the hypothetical bedroom door rather sooner than I probably should [g].
sapphoisburning: i bend your spoons (Default)

[personal profile] sapphoisburning 2014-02-09 01:58 am (UTC)(link)
This is something I really like about your writing--the sex is always in service of the story and moving something forward, if not the plot then the emotional and character development.
riverlight: An Anne Taintor image talking about boykissing. :) (other: mmm boykissing)

[personal profile] riverlight 2014-02-09 03:01 am (UTC)(link)
I return to that series of
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I return to that series of <user=resonant>'s posts time and again. (Whether or not that's reflected in my writing is up to the reader, however. *g* There's always room for growth, hah.) I also love the particular point about how particular characters would express particular emotions—not just "what does the feeling of being overwhelmed look like?" but "what does overwhelm look like for Rodney in particular?"

One of the things I'm always blown away by is those authors who manage to make a scene read as sexy to me even if it's about a kink that's not mine. Like, one story—and, forgive me, I'm forgetting the author at the moment—wrote a bloodplay story that I found ridiculously hot, even though that's nowhere near a thing that I, personally, am into, either in real life or in fic. I really should go back and find that story and go through it in great detail to see if there was some particular <em>something </em>happening there in the writing...