Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forgive The Expression

One of the endless writing workshop debates along with Can you start a story with a dream? and Did you earn that ending? and Why is reading this so boring I think I'm going to gouge my eyes out? is how to write about sex. Most of the time I favor the jump cut approach to anything direct -- And then the next morning with all that behind them . . . But the truth is that sometimes a sex scene is necessary to the story and as much as I am loathe to write it, I find myself, well, if you will forgive the expression, forced into a corner. My favorite sex scene that I've written involves a narrator who finds herself in a strange bed with a small blood stain on the sheets. She's left to speculate how it got there and finds herself in dark waters pretty fast, that of becoming a corpse in her mind, sheet over her head, all the demons that drove her to this horrible setting all in place the next morning on the drive home. I didn't write the story that way to start, I left out the dried blood and the dialogue even as I knew I'd have to write it.

If you find yourself avoiding writing a scene for fear of its inherent difficulty, you know it's going to be the scene that makes the story work, the one you will take you the longest to write and will require the most from you. For me, this is most often involves a terrible intimacy between characters, a moment when the mask drops and everything is revealed. Most of these scenes would be considered failures in the world of erotica -- there's not much happiness to be seen, not much bodice ripping, and then they rode away on a cloud of love stuff. Let's face it, in real life we take off our own clothes more often than not. But the horror of exposure, the risk, the sadness, that's sex as I understand it on the page where there's only words which is the least of it in real life.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Writing is the opposite of sex. It's only good when it's over." Hunter S. Thompson

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Graceland Paul Simon

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!


eric313 said...

that exposure and risk... on page or in the real. You can make the story with that scene, or you can become a story in life. It's the rejected story that is the hardest part about writing or sex.

At least with writing, we can remake the scene to work out after that fact. In life and love, you often only get one shot, so make sure the sheets are changed and the animals fed before hand.

Hope your scenes all work in one go.
Take care

the walking man said...

I know exactly what you mean about the writing of intimacy between two people (loving) or the pure recreational sex or the horrid violent sex being hard to do.

Because it has to sound real as it happens. This is one of my weakest area in anything I write, I know I can do it but it is never just the tippity tap out and it's done; this is where I agonize over words no matter which type of sex it is.

How far do you go as far as verbiage, do you really need the word cock or pussy or whatever in there or is it as strong when you come at the act sideways?

When is it a part of the story or just porn for the sake of having most peoples favorite topic in there? Even though most lie about the amount of sex they have ever had.

I think it comes down to a case by case basis. I know I went the whole slam season without using sex and maintained my position in the top 15 but I knew if I was moving on to the main stage I had to write an erotic piece.

Because of the accident I never got to read the piece until three or four weeks later but I know from the propositions & comments a fat white guy got that night it would have carried me through.

But then in my case it's all just story telling anyway. lmfao

sanity has come back


Barbara Streisand said...

It's bombs away!

Cheri said...

How perfectly worded! I enjoy writing sexual scenes, because it is such a vital part of human existance. (Which you already know!)

I've not written for a while now, over a month, and my brain is itching for something to work on. (I also have to write my "part two" for Mark.)

Hope all is well!

Jon said...

"Let's face it, in real life we take off our own clothes more often than not."

That's one of the more clarifying notions I've read in a long time.

And sex scenes should rarely be about sex. In writing as in life.

Diane Keaton said...

Well la dee da.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think you're right that the hardest scenes to write are often the ones on which major story points turn. And it's dangerous to skip over those because sometimes when you get around to writing them they develop differently than you expected and some of the stuff you wrote later has to change.

Pythia3 said...

Jon said it all, I guess I'm done then! (Jon, I know you can write some pretty hot stuff)
But, really, in real life, the beach sand burns has fleas, enjoying it standing up is nearly impossible, the phone rings at awkward times, and I don't want an expensive piece of clothing ripped off of me. So, maybe that's why we should have fun writing about the impossibilities of sex and its "what ifs."
I'll admit, I do have a hard time opening up that Pandora's box.
PS Michelle, with the way you write, and your gift of keen observation, you would probably blow us all over with your sex scenes!