Lessons Learned #30

Let’s write about sex

I had no idea what to write all week in my Lessons Learned, until I reached the point in my book where girl gets boy. And they go to bed for the first time. And they have sex. There, I’ve said it, the ‘S’-word. Sex! It has been such a taboo, until ’50 Shades of Grey’ came out and now it’s okay to read and talk about it (thank you, E.L. James!).

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Before we go on, I’d like to make you understand what  the difference is between erotica and porn. Absolutely nothing. If you Google ‘erotic definition’ you get “relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.” If you Google ‘pornography definition’ you get “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.” So apart from the display of sexual organs perhaps, both are intended to stimulate sexual arousal. By the way, the letters in the heading are letters from the ‘nineteenth-century erotic alphabet,’ to be found on Wiki Commons. If you take Google literally, this is actually porn. A few descriptions of the difference of the two that sprung out in my research were ‘the height of the book shelf,’ ‘what he wants and what she wants’ and ‘it depends on the lighting.’ You decide what you call it.

Should you write about sex? Absolutely! It happens in everyday life, it’s the essence of our existence; no sex, no life. I must admit, I like to call my sex scenes ‘love scenes’ as I think that is what I write about. I don’t put it in as something gratuitous to rake up the audience numbers, as so many tv series seem to do nowadays. My son of fourteen has seen more sex on tv than I had when I was twenty-one. The business of written erotica also has never been so good! Since we can read whatever ‘anonymously’ on our tablet, without the tell-tale cover visible to all around us, the world is your oyster.

So how to write a good sex scene? That takes just as much thinking as any other scene in your story. Obviously there are the clichés to be avoided, like naming the sexual organs (unless you write hard core porn perhaps). Less is more. Don’t forget we are writing, not making a movie. The reader has their own imagination and all you have to do is to suggest, leave it up to them on what it looks like. Reading up on how to film a sex scene a while back, they said that close-ups of body parts are more arousing than the actual deed. Her hand gripping the sheets, his halter of breath, her moan as his head went below her navel, that kind of stuff. As the majority of erotica readers are older than forty-five, explicit description of the deed is like telling somebody how to eat.

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Another thing that is important in sex scenes is reality. People have sex as an affirmation of their emotional attraction to each other, no matter their looks. Well, normally, so let’s stick with that. While making love they explore each other’s bodies, so why not describe that. Not everybody is perfect and that’s okay. Let your protagonist caress that mole, tickle that flabby belly, kiss those stretch marks. It makes it all more believable. Readers should be able to relate and feel good about themselves, not feel too ugly to have sex themselves!

Last but not least, if what you write doesn’t do anything for you, the writer, it’s not working. If you can’t feel anything, what makes you think your reader would feel something? I live and breath my characters; I am happy when they laugh, I mourn when they die, and I get aroused when they make love. My husband isn’t complaining, if that is anything to go by 🙂 . Give it a try, it may spice up your love life too!

Have a Wonderful (and Sexy) Writing Weekend!

I’m not an addict…

But I love food, sleeping, writing and, of course, sex…

There are several things that I enjoy more than other things in life, the best ones are food, sleeping and writing. Okay, sex too, I’m only human. I get tremendous enjoyment from eating dark chocolate, crisps, and medium-rare steaks. I love eating in restaurants, where they not only serve delicious food, but also display it in an appetising manner. Since I was so unfortunate to get a severe case of glandular fever when I was nineteen years old, sleeping has been one of my most time-consuming past-times. It has become less since I passed the forty-five year mark, but I still enjoy a nice nap during daytime now and again. When I wrote my first book I got my first real high. I liken it to snorting cocaine (although I have never done this, so my comparison is purely based on hear-say). My life was great, I felt great and, as this goes hand in hand, sex was great! I got down when I started editing, but got high again when I wrote my second book. I haven’t been high since I finished that one.

I want to get high again. And I do a little bit, every time I eat a dark magic chocolate, every time I have one of those magical naps, and I am looking forward to reaching one of those magical highs again when writing. Does this mean I am an addict?

Since last year I have been trying to lose weight. I have been going to a gym (but gave up on that since the new year) and have been on the Cambridge diet for three months. All in all I have lost four kg. Nothing to rave about, but it is progress (still seven to go). What I didn’t expect was that every day I was on that diet I craved food. When I was writing I was okay, I didn’t need to snack. However, as soon as my children came home from school I changed into this other person. I would sneak in snacks, tell myself excuses to eat more, even eat behind my kids back. I think that qualifies as an addiction.

The strange thing is that I don’t mind not-eating when it isn’t there. I occupy myself with things that need doing (or not) and don’t eat at all. I can easily skip breakfast and have lunch at 2pm. No problemo. This week I have forgotten to organise grocery shopping. I was just too busy. We still had a lot in the cupboard and freezer to get by (although we went out for dinner yesterday :)) and hence didn’t have any cookies or crisps available (they never last long). And I didn’t miss them! When my kids told me they were peckish I told them to make a sandwich. They did. So, I didn’t go out to get crisps or cookies, I didn’t bake any, I didn’t steal lollies that my kids were hording in their room. Likewise with the sleeping. I have been too busy to sleep. Likewise with the sex. My DH and I have been sleeping on the landing since we started renovating our bedroom a few months ago. Having sex next to your children’s bedroom doors is as frequent as a visit to the moon. When we went to London for a day and stayed in a hotel for a night we caught up though :).

And then it finally hit me. I’m not an addict…

I am a sucker for temptation!