Monday, December 04, 2006

Sex talk

There is a more than interesting post over on Shameless Words on the merits of a well written sex scene.

When the plot calls should we go all out and write a sweat laden, no holds barred, full frontal or is it better to allude to intimacy, drawing a veil of the sordid details?

According the the 'The Bad Sex Awards in Fiction' over at the Guardian Umlimited there are a number of writers who get it wrong (not for the faint hearted btw), but what makes good sex in fiction?
Interestingly there were more women than men commenting on Shameless's post, does this have relevance? I would express a preference that if it is going to be done, then it should be done as realistically as possible and should be in line with the plot. The trouble is I think that it is one area where writers can fall down badly. Those poor writers up for an award must be cringing in their un-sexy boots! The point is, do you have to be good at it, to write about it?

23 comments:

Cailleach said...

I have heard it said that women respond better to the written word, than men do, with regard to well-written sex scenes. That is to say that men supposedly respond better to visual depictions, rather than written ones - (you could regard the previous post with the babe in the cherry red gloves as perhaps an example of this at work).

For myself, I prefer sex scenes to be, well, subtle. I like to fill in the blamks in my head and for the language used not to be full of cliches. If there are cliches, they are usually there for a reason - perhaps the writer is taking a pitch at the usual depictions of sex to alert the reader to something not being quite right with that sex scene...

Tying myself into knots here, and probably haven't explained myself very well, but I hope you get the gist of things.

Cailleach said...

Oh and to answer the question - do you have to be good at it? Well that depends on who's judging, doesn't it? And that would probably invite all sorts of odd answers...

To do sex scenes well, you need to be working off your own experience, I guess! :)

Minx said...

No knots Cailleach, I understand completely. And yes, I agree, I also like my 'fictional' sex to be quite subtle. Maybe women are better at filling in the gaps! I think that the less said makes for a more powerful scene - mostly.
Mills and Boon on the other hand ought to pump it up a bit and get down to the dirty talk!!

Confucious Trevaskis said...

Disgraceful!

Putting sex in books is just a cheap attempt to gain readers.
Clearly there should be no sex in books!!
Unless of course there are pictures to help explain things .....

Marie said...

Subtle is best. There is no need to describe everything. Actually, I've been told that I write good sex scenes (should I have said that?).

chiefbiscuit said...

Sex scenes in movies make me cringe and reach for the fast forward. Maybe in a novel I flick the pages ... it's been so long since I read a sex scene I'm thinking I must. Sneakily reading my aunt's copy of 'Lady Chatterly's Lover' when I was thirteen is a memory!

Liz said...

My litmus test that it's a bad sex scene in a novel is if I see the word 'manroot'. That's just the absolute worst!

jta said...

Quite right, Liz, but there's a whole list more, like--well, best not. Actually, to rise to the highest standard, shouldn't we eliminate any that we've heard before?

Minx said...

Manroot - yurk!

Elimination in progress.......

....there goes 'love stem', 'pleasure pole' and anything else that begins with 'man', for starters! I think we can also dispense with 'moist' and 'throbbing'as they have been done to death.

Any more personal hates?

jta said...

Member...fork...grotto...

Saaleha said...

Well I like to retain an element of secrecy. So I don't tell all. And I don't know, but somehow it works better for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm normally covered from head to toe when I leave the house ;)

DBA Lehane said...

Do you have to be good at it to write a good sex scene? No more so than having to be good at being dead to write about a ghost I guess.

Minx said...

Interesting Saaleha. I wonder if our religious and cultural beliefs have as much bearing on our more juicy reading habits as we think?
Jta, I am worried about yours. Since when did kitchen utensils come into a dollop of sex?
And Lehane - yes, you do have to be good at it whether you write about it, or not!!

jta said...

Don't be too quick to dismiss kitchen utensils, Minx. But yes, it's hard to imagine any good uses for a fork...

Don said...

Jta,

Regarding the fork, what about stubborn, dried bits, clinging to hair in the nether regions? Maybe a fork would come in useful then. It could be used in 'spaghetti fashion'. Twirl the fork in the affected hair then pull, sharply.

It's just a thought.

Confucious Trevaskis said...

Fuck no Don! That's far too painful...hot water and a flannel for that one.

Surely you all know what the fork is for - it's obvious.........

jta said...

heh

Minx said...

Can we get off forks now please? Otherwise I am going to have to talk about throbbing manroots!

Saaleha said...

I think our religious preferences do come into play. I feel highly uncomfortable reading erotica for instance and wouldn't touch porn. Somehow what happens between two people, I see as sacred so revealing all would be a violation of that sanctity, even when they are fictional characters of my own making.
I've posted Chapter Two. Displays just how far I would go when describing what happenes between two people.

Minx said...

Thank you for this insight Saaleha. In amongst all the 'forks' there have been some interesting points.

In the song 'Creep' by Radiohead there is the line -

"Face like and angel, your skin makes me cry"

-words, that for me, can stir up far more than a heavy duty sex scene!

Saaleha said...

that is it, though. Somehow leaving much unsaid is far more sensuous. Because a few choice words paint a picture that is infinitely more revealing than something bawdy and in your face. It's sensing the intangible, bringing it closer, within you...

oops, I've said to much!

Cailleach said...

I am reminded of the band called 'Throbbing gristle' for some reason...

Minx said...

You would!