Saturday, April 05, 2008

Writing about sex

I'm still reading Garbadale (see previous post) and I'm struck by how well Banks handles writing about sex. He's very witty, for example when writing about the main character (aged 15):
He hadn't seen much porn, but he was damn sure the way to instant sexual success wasn't becoming a plumber or a pool technician.

He also manages to describe sex in words appropriate to whoever is the Point Of View character at the time, so we get
rubbing her through her jeans

where the first "her" stands in for a more explicit description, through to the use of words like "fuck" and "penis". He does it beautifully.

I have to say that I find scenes which use indirect words can be very erotic, as a misplaced "clitoris" can pull me right out of the story. I need the characters to speak in their own voices, otherwise it sounds like a visit to the clinic.

I think I said much the same thing about the use of strong language generally. Is that the secret of good writing: get into your character's heads?

2 COMMENTS:

Ian Thomas Healy said...

I've always said there's nothing worse than a misplaced clitoris. LOL

I work very hard when I'm writing to have my dialogue SOUND like it's being spoken by my characters, from word choice to sentence structure to flow of thought. You absolutely have to get into your characters' heads. Otherwise you're telling, not showing.

Ian

fairyhedgehog said...

:)

I'm thinking about the narrative as well as the dialogue. If an omniscient narrator describes a scene in words that the characters would not use, it's very distancing and can be disconcerting.

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