The Boner Assassin- When sex scenes just aren’t sexy

It’s a fact, erotica is one of the biggest sellers among ebooks.  For years before ebooks were considered to be a viable avenue to publication, writers of erotica were writing and selling (sometimes with great success) their stories to a fairly substantial audience.  Sex, when it’s well written anyway, sells.

Then you’ve got writers like me.  I’m probably going to end up inadvertently offending someone with my post.  I apologize in advance.  I’m not trying to be judge-y or insulting.  I respect and embrace the differences that exist between people and understand that one person’s icky will be another’s fetish fuel. 

As a disclaimer, I’ll just put it all out there.  I don’t read erotica.  I have no idea what separates it from porn (which I have been known to read from time to time- no plot, just all sex, all the time).  I have no interest in what seems to be the more popular tropes (boy on boy action, 3+ partners, bondage, D/s play…).  So the things I’m writing will probably come across as a little insulting and a lot ignorant.  Again, that’s not my intention so please don’t take it as an attack because it’s not.

There is exactly one pseudo sex scene in I Wish…  It’s actually a heavy petting scene that has one mention of an erection and an aroused female down there.  I want it in the story because I feel like it furthers the characters’ relationship and their feelings for each other, but I am so not comfortable writing those kinds of scenes.

OK, let’s get personal for a minute.  I am not a virgin.  I have kids.  I have been living with my boyfriend for almost 2 years now.  I’ve known him since we were kids and have been deeply infatuated for pretty much that entire time.  We’re getting married soon.  We know each other’s bodies in deeply intimate ways.  But when we want to make love, foreplay consists of asking, “Wanna do it?”

Now that’s not to imply that our sex life isn’t satisfying.  Because it really really is.  I dare say it’s comparable to the most romantic of romance novels in a physical sense.  There is much caressing, kissing, and loving murmurs whispered against arched necks happening at any given time.  But we totally lack the ability to talk sexy to each other. 

These are actual attempts at dirty talk that have passed between us at one time or another:

“I’m horny.  Fix it.”

“If we were naked right now, we’d totally be doing it.”

“Wanna stick your junk in my junk?”

“Want some hot weiner action?”

And the line that inspired the title, “I don’t think I can do it now, all that talking just assassinated my boner.”

It’s probably obvious that we value humor in our lovemaking.  It works great for us, but as far as being great inspiration for a sex scene?  Not so much.

So in the above scene from my book, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to describe the warm tingles of arousal she feels down below.  For my gentleman character, I just stuck with erection.  It’s descriptive of what’s going on and I don’t think it’ll snap anyone out of the moment, but I can’t really come up with a good way to phrase the girl’s turned on state.  It’s a YA novel so I think any graphic words like “cunt”, “pussy”, or other slang is off the table.  Also, those words aren’t very sexy to me.

In the scene right now as it’s written, I’m using the place holder “girl bits”, I think.  I may end up keeping it for lack of a better word.  I don’t really love it.  It almost feels like it really shows how uncomfortable I am about those kinds of scenes.  But the options feel really limited.  Vagina is terribly clinical and probably not exactly medically accurate.  Wouldn’t the aroused part actually be the vulva?  Which is just another icky sounding word.

And even if it weren’t a YA book, I wouldn’t want to stray down the path lined with purple prose.  No glistening mounds or honey dripping depths here, kthnx.  People who can write good smut impress the hell out of me.  It’s a really special skill set. 

I wonder if it’s like dialog tags?  I’ve read you should stick to said as much as possible.  Nobody should be shouting, muttering, exclaiming, or lecturing.  Maybe you find your dirty words of choice and use them every time you have to mention that particular part of the body.  Which does seem to eliminate a lot of the risk of purple writing, but seems like it would get oh so boring and repetitive in a book that hinges on having well written sex scenes.

The first book I can remember reading that talked about actual sex was Forever by Judy Blume.  I can’t remember the exact words she used, but it wasn’t a scandalous book by any standards.  And neither was Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews (an aside, but man the new cover is just full of sending the wrong message about the plot of the book.  I would never categorize it as a romance and that seems to be what the cover implies it is.)  I’m going to assume that after 20 or 30 years, everybody knows the main plot point of Flowers… the kids are locked in an attic for 4+ years with their only link to the outside being their evil grandmother.  The older 2 siblings hit puberty and in a brief scene, really only a couple of lines, we’re told that the older brother rapes/has sex with his sister.  She forgives him and their bond remains strong. blah blah blahcakes.  The point I’m making though is that the scene isn’t especially lurid.  I think her phrasing was something about the “hard part of him that demanded release” or along those lines. 

If brother-sister incest can keep it classy then what’s my deal?  A consensual make out scene between non related older teen characters should not be harder to write than a VC Andrews “love scene”.  But there you go.  Now you know my darkest secret.  I am just not good at making the sexy talk.  It’s my lonely cross to bear. 

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7 Comments

Filed under I wish, writing

7 responses to “The Boner Assassin- When sex scenes just aren’t sexy

  1. Fantastic post!
    Your “come on” lines w/your boyfriend killed me, LOL. And not very different from mine with my husband of 12+ years, gotta say.

    I write contemporary romance/women’s fiction. Sometimes, steamy love scenes are required. Not for gratuitous sex, but because it deepens the bond between the characters and furthers the plot. Seriously.

    I’ve been w/my husband for 14 1/2 yrs. We have 2 kids. We’ve obviously had sex. Lots of it. Good sex, too. But WRITING about having sex? Has been, without question, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I haven’t felt that awkward, shy, and vulnerable since the night I lost my viriginity. Sheesh.

    I’m not a shy person. I’m not a prude. So why is it so hard to write a sex scene?!? Much less to do it well?? It just is. It’s revealing a part of your mind to the world that most people don’t. Even though it’s NOT you, the author, having the sex — it’s a fictional character doing the deed! — you feel like everyone who reads your sex scene will be looking at YOU, the author. That’s a hard one (no pun intended) to overcome and get past. You have to have very thick skin not to think of that.

    I’m getting there. I get thicker skinned every day (the query/rejection process has been helping in that regard more than I wish). And my steamy scenes are necessary, and I’ll continue to write them when necessary, and hope they don’t come off as cheesy, contrived, cliche, or just plain bad.

    In the meantime, I now must add “boner assassin” to my “Favorite Phrases of All Time” List. Sooo funny. 🙂

    • I want to be able to write good sex scenes because sex is a part of most romantic relationships. But sex just isn’t something we talk about when we do it, other than in the joking ways. To use dirty words like “cock”, “pussy”, “tits” would feel artificial from me because they aren’t words that I’ve ever really spoken out loud. I suppose I could get used to it over time. I used to cringe whenever my love would refer to his weiner because it felt like I was about to get intimate with a 12 year old. Grown men just don’t refer to their male parts like that, right? Now we’re to the point where I don’t think twice about using the word myself.

      Other than this post, nobody knows that I’m totally lacking in that particular skill set so I could probably write sex scenes without anyone smirking or giggling, but I’m not sure that I can get past it since I know it about myself and I’d be thinking I’m a giant fraud the whole time I’m attempting to write one.

  2. Writing sex isn’t easy (but it sure is a lot of fun). Anyway, I’m constantly asking myself, “How does it feel?” when writing so I remember to focus on the senses instead of just the mechanics. Sense details and descriptive words appropriate to the conext are the keys to writing good sex.

    Don’t sell yourself short. “There is much caressing, kissing, and loving murmurs whispered against arched necks happening at any given time.” That’s a pretty hot image.

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  6. My partner and I have actually used lines out of Business Time…

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