Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Writing love scenes

I wasn't going to have any love scenes in my Nano novel this year and I certainly wasn't having any same sex love. My Main Character Rhea is a woman with a young son and I had her pinned down as firmly heterosexual until Claire came along and fell in love with her. Something here must be fascinating me because I keep coming back to love between women. I was so sure this year I wasn't going to go there!

I'm not sure I'm going to write any love scenes as such, though. Mostly because I don't think I have the skills. As NightWings puts it:
love scenes are part of loving relationships - or can be. I've been struggling with those a bit. To be honest: I haven't been all that successful.

NightWings is a new blog that looks like it's going to honestly explore some sensitive areas. It's worth a look.

In a previous Nano I had two bedroom scenes: one was a pillow fight and the other was an argument. It's just that love scenes are so much easier to write badly than to write well.


Adam Heine said...

The only sex scene I've ever written was basically: "They kissed. They didn't come out for a long time."

So I'm with you in the less-than-confident area.

writtenwyrdd said...

I bought a bunch of erotica and read them to see how other people did it, what I thought was horrible and stuck out as B.A.D., what worked, and what was cliche.

And practice makes perfect. My one thing is I tend to aim for humor in the scenes to lighten it up. Otherwise I tend to do it badly.

fairyhedgehog said...

Adam, it sounds like we're about level on this one! And I'm asking myself if there's any reason for thinking I ought to be able to write more explicitly.

writtenwyrdd, that's a good way to go about it.

Bevie said...

I haven't written much of it. I have a very difficult time naming body parts. I can write 'breast' and 'bottom', but after that I struggle.

As to actions, I can write 'kiss' and 'caress'. Then my vocabulary kind of goes away.

Wings in the Night said...

Thank you, fairyhedgehog, for the link back to my blog.

I received a comment on one of my posts. It was a good suggestion telling me to "just do it and not worry about the result". She went on to say I should "try writing something explicit just to give (my) mind a stretch in that direction."

That seems like good advice. Write with no intention that anyone else ever reads.

Robin B. said...

I love, um, love scenes. But you know that!

Unknown said...

Eh - I remember blushing the first time I tried writing a sex scene (with someone else, in fact)...but now it's old hat. There are some words I won't use, and some I will (and you'd probably be surprised), but it can be done and quite tastefully as well. :)

(And sorry for the double post - something got gorked up on my end...)

fairyhedgehog said...

Bevie, "Bottom" to me is rather a child's word so I can't imagine it in a love scene. Although I suppose it rather depends on who is in love with whom.

Probably the trick is to get into the mind of the character and write it from their point of view.

Wings, I hope you take that advice and that it works out for you. Let us know how you get on!

Robin, you don't just love sex scenes you're good at them. You could maybe give us all some tips?

mynfel, maybe the trick is to just do it. Oh, and no problems about the double post. I usually just quietly remove the extra one.

Bevie said...

Yes, I suppose "bottom" is a bit childish. Maybe now you've got a clue as to why my sex scenes make people laugh.

batgirl said...

I haven't really written a sex scene, but I'd go with a couple of guidelines: if the whole scene could be replaced by the words 'then they had sex', replace it with something equivalent to 'then they had sex'. And - sex scenes are like fight scenes, you need to block them out and make sure nothing physically impossible is happening, but what's really important is what happens in the characters' minds.

Jennifer Crusie writes very good sex scenes which develop character and advance the plot, and could never be replaced with 'then they had sex'. If you haven't checked her books out, give them a try.

fairyhedgehog said...

Batgirl, that sounds like excellent advice. I suppose any scene that isn't necessary shouldn't be there and as sex scenes carry so much charge it's even more important that they actually achieve something. I'll look up Jennifer Crusie to see how it's done. I can't imagine needing to block it out but I do see what you mean.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

I wrote a short story once about sex. Sex on a motorcycle whilst going through a tunnel, nonetheless. The whole story was maybe a page and a half and was born out of a need to put my new metaphor for orgasm ("wasabi explosion") into a literary context.

I LOVE wasabi. I'm of the opinion that sushi is mostly a vehicle to fit as much wasabi into my mouth at once as is possible. Immediately after closing my lips around the wasabi package, I have to put my finger on the end of my nose because the proper amount of wasabi makes me feel like my nose is flying off my face for a moment.

Shortly after discovering the miracle of wasabi, I had an orgasm which made my whole body feel like it flew apart and back together again in a matter of seconds.

Wasabi explosion.

See? Writing about sex isn't that hard if you've got a good metaphor or if the scene will reveal something about the character(s) which could only be revealed in the boudoir - or on a motorcycle :). Sex is an act of intimacy and intimacy varies from person to person. Is your character a selfish lover? boring? attentive? eager? Does he or she have an abusive past which causes an occasional PTSD attack while making love no matter how safe the relationship is? can she only make love in the dark b/c she has body dysmorphic disorder or is she turned on by having sex in places where she and her partner could be caught at any moment?

Lots of great stuff to be found in writing about sex. It's not just about Insert Tab A Into Slot B. It's about adventure, vulnerability, fantasy, ego, self-esteem... and so on.

Don't worry about your readers thinking about YOU when they're reading your scene. I've never read a sex scene and thought, "Oh, so that's how the author does it!"

well, accept for Anais Nin, but she wanted us to think about her take on sexuality

Good luck with NaNoWriMo. I'm participating for the first time and totally nervous about the prospect. However, it will be a great challenge and fun to do b/c I know you and Marta will be out there frantically typing away as well. xoxo

fairyhedgehog said...

Wow, Sophie! Sex on a motorbike, that really is something!

I like all your suggestions for things to consider in sex scenes. I hadn't thought about PTSD for example.

Oh, and I'm fairyhedgehog on Nano, if you want to buddy me, and I'll buddy you back if you let me know your name there.

Unknown said...

W00t! I'll buddy you. :) (as mynfel)

And maybe it says something about me that when I skimmed through these answers and saw the word "bottom", I thought you guys were talking about BDSM for a moment. LOL.

fairyhedgehog said...

I'll look out for you over at Nano, mynfel. I laughed out loud at the BDSM comment.

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