The Art of Writing No. 13
More nuts and bolts about sex, if that is not being too euphemistic! And euphemisms, metaphors and similes are often at the heart of scenes of physical intimacy.
Having discussed people’s sneering at hyperbole in the last blog, it may help in the writing of sex scenes to consider two steps. First, determine whether such a scene helps the plot along by being so explicitly detailed or should you make only passing reference to it. Does it deepen our understanding of our characters and therefore make plausible the scrapes they get into? The second step is attendant upon the first. Having decided you must explore how this flesh, blood, heart and mind activity affects character and plot development, play with the following (by no means exhaustive) strategies and see which works best for you:
1 Write from the outside as though you are a forensic biologist
2 Write from the outside as though you are a Martian
3 Write from the outside but focus on one element of the act in such a way as to convey the whole
4 Write from inside the heads of one or both of the participants
5 Write from the physical reality of participants
6 Write from the emotional reality of participants
Meanwhile, use a thesaurus and try to provide a rich variety of terms for parts of the body and the convulsive acts, themselves.
As I inferred in the last blog, we are all possible experts in the basics of sex but the way we engage with others is unique. For a sex scene to be successful in your novel it might educate, excite, challenge, amuse, create identification, surprise, induce longing. However, overriding everything, at the conclusion of it we should know more about the psychology of the participants. We shouldn’t feel that the writing was gratuitous or formulaic but that the writer navigated all the pitfalls rather adroitly, unusually and even – poetically.