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Author Topic: bow-ch-ch-wow-wow. (or how to feel the love)
Reagansgame
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In a character driven story, how do you paint the picture when things start to heat up?

I'm a Southern girl, and not the kind who started drankin when I was 14. So when I write a scene of passion, I actually get embarassed. I like to stop at a Disney-appropriate kiss and pick back up in the snuggling. I think I've figured out why, too. I don't want to be the peeping tom on my characters, and so I make sure that I -and consequently- my readers, give them a bit of privacy. The details I enjoy writing are emotional reactions.

How much detail is too much? How much is too little? what is your reaction when a book you are reading stops at a closed bedroom door? and what is your reaction when things start to head towards the more x-rated?


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snapper
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What kind of kiss is it? A kiss is just not a kiss.

There is the passionate 'looks like they're trying to eat the other persons face' type of kiss.
There is the the violent 'come here your mine!' type of kiss.
And of course there is the sneaky 'I'm going to get this in before you call for help' kiss.
And kisses all have different types of techniques. Such as do you use your tongue to count the teeth? Are you a face smasher? Are you proficient to use the muscles in your lips and jaw when you kiss? Such as sucking on the lower lip? Perhaps probing the tongue along the jawline and under the neck?

This is what I suggest, think of what you like about a kiss. If you never enjoyed a kiss come here and I'll show you how its done.


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tnwilz
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The answer to your question is entirely contained in which market you are writing for. It is safe to say that the more graphic you get the more doors close to the story. Only a few publications are looking for erotica in their Sci-fi. Most are looking for Sci-Fi in their Sci-Fi.

Tracy


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Robert Nowall
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I tend to avoid writing about passion and love and hot scenes---write what you know, they say.

I've seen quite a few books where the sex scenes went beyond any romance or passion, and wound up reading like medical lectures. I wouldn't recommend going that far. Some talk about what they're feeling while they're into it should do the trick...put the anatomy lesson on hold.


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debhoag
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But if you're not writing sci fi, it can be a different story (no pun intended). I've been shopping around a thriller, and got several rejects with suggestions to punch up the relationship between the MC and a man she was interested in. Although, to be entirely honest, my reservations about the 'punch' were directly related to my teenage daughter pointing out to me "you're too old to write that kind of stuff, mom." The idea that my kids could someday be reading anything I wrote really puts a damper on hot and steamy.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I remember hearing that someone asked John Grisham (best selling author) why he didn't have sex scenes in his books (I haven't read any, so I don't know if he has them or not), and his response was that there were two reasons. First, his mother is still living, and second, his wife told him he doesn't know anything about it.
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annepin
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Here's the thing. Intimacy =/= sex, and vice versa. Books with sex in them, I find, tend to lose the intimacy. It's like the author went overboard describing the sex. I'd rather have the intimacy.
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KayTi
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It's way more interesting/enticing to leave things up to the reader to imagine if it becomes necessary to head beyond the "Disney Kiss" as you mention. At least IMHO, unless you're writing in certain genres that prefer the details.

Sometimes we forget at writers that the people reading our stories have active imaginations and will happily fill in the blanks when necessary. FWIW, I feel the same way about violence. The less said, the better. I skim all violent stuff anyway but don't need those gory details in there. My imagination does just fine, thank you.


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Tiergan
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quote:
Here's the thing. Intimacy =/= sex, and vice versa. Books with sex in them, I find, tend to lose the intimacy. It's like the author went overboard describing the sex. I'd rather have the intimacy.

I think Annepin hit it right on. For me it all starts with POV. I mean there are times I want to "make love" to my wife, and well just "take her." And In my writing I try to keep that in mind, "love making" I might start with a kiss, or the first motion, but fade away, therefore maintaining the intimacy. "Take her," I have yet to write this though, I think I would be more explicit, but still think I would pull back, but might mention postion, body parts, gasping, just a little to set the right dirty thoughts in the mind of the reader.

[This message has been edited by Tiergan (edited September 13, 2008).]


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Reagansgame
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I tend to very obscurely refer to "IT", and sometimes, when I re-read, I have to kinda laugh at myself and say, okay, I am writing a HORROR-ish book, and I take it back to elementary school playground lingo when we get around to THAT topic.

I feel like an involuntary perv. when I read a really ronchy scene. Sometimes when its only midly ronchy I get a bit embarassed. I feel like I've essentially been "forced to watch" in order to get to the next part of the plot. Stephen King and ESPEC. Ann Rice and Clive Barker get it on in the point where I feel I need to go get tested after reding them!

I appreciate a good relationship forming between my peeps and I'm romantic at heart, especially with the first kiss. I just didn't know if vague implying was enough. Obviously, with horror, I'm writing for a somewhat mature audience and I didn't know if I could get away with skimming there.


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satate
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I don't think you have to be explicit. I personally skim the explicit parts when I read books and if it's too much I won't read that author anymore. I don't care if the author makes the characters have sex, I just don't want to watch. I think you can do a lot romantically without ever going past a kiss.
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philocinemas
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I believe The Godfather was the best movie ever made. I once borrowed the book from the library - Wow! That kind of detail was not in the movie.
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Robert Nowall
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Occasionally I try my hand at some erotic horror---some bizarre medical procedure, a mind-boggling amount of nudity---but the end results never satisfy me enough to send one out to market. But writing them out at least helps rid my brain of the disgusting idea...
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extrinsic
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Lady Chatterly's Lover, D. H. Lawrence, 1928, wasn't published until 1960. After being tried for obscenity in the US, Great Britain, and Australia, the novel was pronounced Art. India banned it.

The novel is an exploration of "living in the mind" and the need for living the physical being. Four-letter words, the scandal of an aristocrat and a commoner having a love affair, it was considered an obscenity at a time when Victorian sexual mores were under assault by the dawning disestablishmentarian ideology of the '60s. Nonetheless, it's a literary masterpiece, a brilliant amatory novel that explores sexuality as a human need, and some say the first of the romance novel kind.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited September 14, 2008).]


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LAJD
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If you are a bashful southern (or northern for that matter) gal, take a look at how Charlaine Harris writes Sookie Stackhouse's love scenes in the Southern Vampire Mysteries. They range from demure to hot, but I can listen to the audio books with my 14 yr old son in the kitchen and not feel the need to run to the iPod and turn it off.

To be more specific, her scenes are all about how the sex makes Sookie feel. There is occasional groping and some frank description but the emphasis is on feeling and emotion. For me, it makes all the difference. Is this a girl thing?

Anyway, I love the way she does sex, it's real but not really in your face.

Leslie

[This message has been edited by LAJD (edited September 14, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by LAJD (edited September 14, 2008).]


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Reagansgame
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I just realized that I didn't put the main reason why I'm asking about this, here. I've written a short story- my first. The story is specifically for the Writer's Digest contest I posted in the markets section and specifically for the romance genre. I wrote one very emotionally driven, but physically vague steamy scene. so far, I'm a horror only gal, and in my most recent novel have tried to completely leave out the s-e-x talk, but in a story that is Romance-genre-specific, how much physical romance should one include? I've got exactly three 10pt, unformatted lines where the only actual mention of any act is in the first part of the first sentance. Is that enough for a genre that's supposed to be all about Love?

I think I'm gonna play Napster's Barry Manilow playlist and read through it again, just to see it from a different perspective.


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TaleSpinner
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I learned from a stage fight director that good fights tell you something about the characters, more than just who won and who lost.

I read an Ian Banks novel once where a character phoned the female lead while she was enjoying an orgy. In a scene written from the other character's POV we just heard her on the phone, discussing the issue he'd called her about, her dialogue punctuated progressively more with "Oh" and "Ah" and "Oof" until she could concentrate no more and rang off. Very sexy (because we had to imagine it and I have a good imagination) and we learned something about her open attitudes to sex, and life in general.

So I'd say you include enough of the s-e-x to express the nature of their love, or to show us something of their character. As someone said, our imaginations will do the rest.

Cheers,
Pat


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Zero
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I'm totally with you on this one Reagansgame. I completely agree. Unfortunately the majority of published fiction doesn't. Or rather, the largest body of published fiction doesn't - which happens to be romance (if I'm not mistaken.) And though I've never read one, judging from the racy pictures on their covers when I pass the aise at the library - the physical affection in them is somehwat... less than subtle.
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DebbieKW
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I've got exactly three 10pt, unformatted lines where the only actual mention of any act is in the first part of the first sentence. Is that enough for a genre that's supposed to be all about Love?

Yes. It wouldn't be enough for an erotica imprint, but there are romance lines that specialize in "fade to black after the kiss" romances. Heck, the Christian Romance imprints don't even allow sex or hot groping.

As for "is it enough for the contest," I really don't know. I suppose it depends on how it's written.

Thing is, if you try to write a steamy scene and you're not comfortable with it, it'll show in the writing. So, in the end, your story will probably be stronger if you stick with what you're comfortable with.


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extrinsic
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The parenthetical in the Topic is to my mind the question. How to feel. In the case of love as a primary emotion, that means agape, ideal love; eros, passionate love; amore, romantic love; storge, natural affection; xenia, hospitality; philia, dispassionate virtuous love; and/or caritas, charitable love, the main classifications of love. The types of love blend into one another and create secondary emotions, like the primary colors blend into secondary colors and tints and hues. Accompanying or following emotional responses are physical reactions. Cheeks flush with passion, among other voluntary and involuntary physical reactions to emotions.

How much or how little of the physical action to show could be answered by examining the difference between emotions and physical reactions. Sex is the culmination of a lot of coordinate, conflicting, contrasting, and compelling emotions. Thought, word, and deed. Most of the emotional impact needed by a plot occurs in the thought and word variables of the equation. Sexual tension is the driving plot force in amatory stories. Will they or won't they. The deed, rejection or acceptance, is the climax [sic].

"According to Mildred I. Reid, there is only one must in creative writing: the author must transfer an emotional experience to the reader."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion#Emotion_as_a_fiction-writing_mode


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aspirit
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Reagansgame, I had the same questions, so I went to the library for help. Now I'm a fan of [u]The Joy of Writing Sex[/u] by Elizabeth Benedict. Benedict provides an array of examples from fiction, so you can learn what works for you and what doesnít. I most appreciated the book's first two chapters, titled "What Will My Grandmother Think?" and "A Sex Scene Is Not a Sex Manual".

Unlike KayTi, I feel differently about fictional sex than fictional violence. I want few details of the action in a sex scene, as I'm concerned what meaning the characters place on the sex. In a fight scene, I will tolerate and sometimes appreciate more action because of what I can learn about the characters through their physical response.

Sex and fight scenes are the same in that they must be necessary to continue the plot. If where he touched her does not impact a later scene, then I don't need (or want) to know.

Note: I don't read "Romance", and I donít know how far romance readers' preferences differ from mine.


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aspirit
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By the way, what does "drankin" mean? Is that new slang or a regional word?
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Reagansgame
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drankin': (v) I think it means to imbibe B&J Wine Coolers in field with a bunch of your friends from highschool. I think it is a phenomenon that only takes place in the Heart of Dixie.


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Reagansgame
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I don't read romance either. I'm hoping I actually wrote one.
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Reagansgame
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Since I apparantly double-posted here, I'm going to erase what I had (see line above) and use this slot to say:

"Great Link Extrinsic!"

for those of you who didn't click on Extrinsic's generously offered link, you should take the time to do so. Or here's the excerpt:

quote:
However, recognition of emotion as a distinct fiction-writing mode is a matter of discussion

Anyone up for a discussion along those lines? I clicked on the footnoted link, and found a nice quick lesson in the concept of "emotion as a distinct fiction-writing mode" Well, if not, that's cool. I just carried on an entire discussion with y'all's posts alone! And here's what I came up with; You need good characters to have a good plot. Good characters grow out of their emotions, and as KDW - She Who Must Be Obeyed (And Needs Her own Theme Music, I think) pointed out, Characters are derived from our perspectives, so, uhm... where was I? Oh yeah, fleshing out characters, may mean taking a good hard look in the mirror at our own emotions.

Okay, maybe not. Well, here's the other link that Excentric got me hooked on tonight.
http://www.helium.com/items/1093579-emotion-as-a-fiction-writing-mode

(It's been a day of mind-broadening. I've been sitting on the couch all day with one very sick kid or another and only one free hand)

[This message has been edited by Reagansgame (edited September 15, 2008).]


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