I worked on a sex scene for my novel all morning. In case you’ve never written about sex, let me tell you that it’s not as easy as you might think. I mean, everybody’s done the deed, so it should be just a matter of recreating experience, right? That is definitely not the case.
There’s a balance that’s sometimes hard to find in writing about sex. You don’t want to come off as a play-by-play on ESPN, but you don’t want to sound like something on the Playboy channel, either. And National Geographic’s tone is really not an option, at least not in my book.
What do you call the various body parts involved? Unless you’re writing a romance, the whole heaving bosom and throbbing member thing just won’t cut it. But the technical route doesn’t work for me. While I’m not opposed to saying penis and vagina, somehow those words don’t flow well on the page.
For those of you who think maybe I’m prudish (total strangers?), let me assure you I’m not. I’m probably way more open about things than many of my friends are comfortable with, and I’m certainly not opposed to using some offensive language every now and then. OK, frequently. Anyway, it’s not Puritanism that makes sex hard to write about. It’s the fact that most people make it out to be such a serious act, when in reality there are knocking elbows and knees and misplaced parts. Sex is sometimes plain out ridiculous.
So I decided that my sex scene would be where I have fun in the book. Where I let things be ridiculous. Or at least moderately so. Once I decided that, I had a great time writing it. The point of putting a sex scene in my book is not to describe a private act with minute accuracy, but to use it to show the relationship between two people. Good relationships are full of fun, and so is good sex.
Oh, and no offense meant to the heaving bosom and throbbing member crowd. Just not what I’m going for.
6 thoughts on “Doing the Wild Thing – on paper”
I am sure you described the scene with all the right, flowing words seasoned with your witty comedic style. I can’t wait to read your novel.
You’ll be one of the first to read it, I swear. Let’s get together soon.
This was a unique and hilarious post! I’ve had to do “sex scenes” in off-Broadway plays– nothing too gratuitous don’t worry ;), but anyway you’re right. There’s no other way to play it than…well less than seriously. Otherwise somehow it’s fake. Very insightful and witty take on the subject. I look forward to reading your book!
P.S. Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to my blog post. I just read it when I figured out where to go on my blog to see who’s commented or approve certain comments that got labelled “pending” for some reason.
Glad to hear it was nothing too gratuitous. Though all in the name of art… And I just watched the short you were in. You play a marvelous bitch!!!! Really, it was great fun and I’m so excited for you. Never ever give up, right? Keep dreaming and fighting for the dream. Hugs, and hope to see you one day before too long, maybe on Broadway?
I have n no doubt you’ll do it well. Hints of humor in your other writing always works. I’ve written some ‘sex’ scenes in short stories, same rule I use for all writing: LESS IS MORE. You can tell a lot more about the sex (and their relationship) in ‘passionate’ dialogue than you think, and leave out the description of the post-coital “wilted woe.” Books are, after all, an exercise in imagination. Spurring the reader’s and navigating the writer’s. And of course in Catcher, Caught, 16 year old Daniel is mostly fascinated by the way it works that first time, the way his hips fits hers and how smooth her skin is. Senses, senses, senses, isn’t that the path to powerful writing anyway?
Less is definitely more. An old friend of mine, a guy who wrote action detective stuff, used to show me his sex scenes so I could rip them apart and put them back together with less. Less offensive stuff to women, mainly. His scenes were filled with boobs and other anatomically correct stuff that ended up being funny rather than descriptive. And yes, senses, senses, senses. You do a fabulous job of that in Catcher, Caught btw.