August 13, 2020, 05:31:50 PM

Author Topic: Sex  (Read 10598 times)

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2011, 02:38:58 PM »
The idea of wooing a demographic, shocking them by numbers ... is that the way some readers envisage it, or really how some writers write? I sure don't know.

I have no idea either - it's not the way I write. It may not be calculated, more a knee-jerk storytelling "solution", like making a character an orphan in order to force them to stand on their own two feet. Sometimes there's a good organic reason, but often it's just lazy shorthand for "troubled past".
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Offline Overlord

Re: Sex
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2011, 02:39:22 PM »
GRRM puts in moderately graphic sex scenes with POV characters & whilst rape happens it is (as far as I can recall) off screen.

Whilst writers may vary, the writing process alluded to in some places in this thread is alien to me and sounds more like cookery:  Tastes stew, stirs it, tastes it again... "Hmmm, perhaps a sprinkling of sarcasm?" Reaches for the tub and shakes a light dusting into the mix. Tastes again ... "No..." Another stir. "Oh. I know. A dash of rape is what it needs." Reaches for narrow bottle, twists off cap, three drops... another for good measure. Tastes again. "Ah, that hits the spot."

Possibly some folk cook their books. Me, I'm in the moment, seeing it, dreaming it. What happens next? what happens next? Write it down. What happens next?

The idea of wooing a demographic, shocking them by numbers ... is that the way some readers envisage it, or really how some writers write? I sure don't know.

One of the most amusing sex scenes I read recently was of a young emperor to be resting his book propped up on a young lady's butt-cheeks... wooed and shocked me ;)
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2011, 02:46:45 PM »
Also, conflict in a scene doesn't necessarily have to be between the couple themselves. It can be about the risk of getting caught - or actually getting caught, or at least interrupted... :)
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Wilson

Re: Sex
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2011, 02:50:37 PM »
I think a part of it is that most mature readers have their own sexual experience and fantasies, so by avoiding any real detail, the reader's own memories and imagination can usually fill in the blanks better than the author can, and in a more personal way.  Some authors can write good sex scenes, but many can't, and even a well written one can seem awkward if it misses the target audience or if it's too much of a break from the reader's experience.

With rape, you're creating a horrific experience that most readers, thankfully, have not experienced.  Less can still be more - like with any particularly graphic scenes, it can be more effective to supply only a few details and let the readers build the most horrific version of the scene they can - but it's more akin to other forms of violence in that you can't rely on the reader's experience the way you can with sex.

I think another factor could be that a book with implies sex can still reach a younger audience, whereas rape, whether graphic or implied, raises the maturity level.  That's not a factor if a book has both graphic rape and implied consensual sex, but I could see some situations where the publisher looks at the detail in the sex scenes as a barrier to opening a book to a younger audience, whereas a book with rape in it is more likely to be inappropriate for youth regardless of the detail.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2011, 03:01:05 PM »
I think another factor could be that a book with implies sex can still reach a younger audience, whereas rape, whether graphic or implied, raises the maturity level.  That's not a factor if a book has both graphic rape and implied consensual sex, but I could see some situations where the publisher looks at the detail in the sex scenes as a barrier to opening a book to a younger audience, whereas a book with rape in it is more likely to be inappropriate for youth regardless of the detail.

Unfortunately that's not true - IIRC, on the forum that sparked this thread, someone (Julia?) mentioned a book that was deemed unsuitable for a YA audience because of the consensual sex - the rape scene in the same book was not apparently considered unsuitable.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Sex
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2011, 03:35:44 PM »
I think another factor could be that a book with implies sex can still reach a younger audience, whereas rape, whether graphic or implied, raises the maturity level.  That's not a factor if a book has both graphic rape and implied consensual sex, but I could see some situations where the publisher looks at the detail in the sex scenes as a barrier to opening a book to a younger audience, whereas a book with rape in it is more likely to be inappropriate for youth regardless of the detail.

Unfortunately that's not true - IIRC, on the forum that sparked this thread, someone (Julia?) mentioned a book that was deemed unsuitable for a YA audience because of the consensual sex - the rape scene in the same book was not apparently considered unsuitable.

T'was not me - I replied with shock to the tale of two books banned by a school because of (iirc the mention of/implied, not graphic)consensual sex while a third book with a rape (not sure how graphic) was apparently fine.

Which is just O.o
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2011, 03:45:03 PM »
I think it was around that point that I suggested it was puritanism at work...
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Douglas Hulick

Re: Sex
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2011, 03:47:14 PM »
To my mind, sex and combat are both variations on the action scene, and a good action scene should both move the story forward and illustrate something about the character. Well done violence, or sex, or what have you, will reveal character, up the overall tension, and provide not only resolution, but also raise more problems/questions. This tends to be easier to accomplish with combat, since at the end of a fight you (often) have a Winner and a Loser: easy conflict, straight-forward resolution, obvious consequences--at least on the surface. Sex is harder in this sense, because, ultimately, it's more internalized for the characters--there are no clear winners or losers or easily visible resolution at the end of the scene (rape being the biggest exception, and another matter entirely, IMO). The best actions scenes, be they centered on fighting or sex or getting away or breaking into a building or whatever, accomplish many things on many levels. It's all about consequences: the trick is, with fighting, it's easy to show those consequences right away; with sex, it's much harder.

I think some authors see sex scenes as a culmination of a series of events, with the act itself being the resolution. Hence, we fade to black. Fights, on the other hand, are usually presented as events on the way to a resolution. In that sense, it makes sense to show more detail, since you are illustrating a step on the path, rather than the doorway at the end. This isn't universal, of course (Jacqueline Carey is an excellent example of the author using sex as mechanism en route to a conclusion, rather than a conclusion itself), but, to my mind, the two acts tend to be treated as different kinds of tools by many writers in the genre, and so are handled differently.

(And, of course, it's always possible that some people simply excel at writing the one and sucking at the other, too. Sometimes the simple answer it the best, despite long-winded theories. :) )
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 03:49:24 PM by Douglas Hulick »

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Sex
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2011, 03:58:03 PM »
I suppose I should note that while this cropped up elsewhere, that's in a place that is almost entirely writers. I was hoping that here, we might have more readers' takes on it.


To my mind, sex and combat are both variations on the action scene, and a good action scene should both move the story forward and illustrate something about the character. Well done violence, or sex, or what have you, will reveal character, up the overall tension, and provide not only resolution, but also raise more problems/questions.

Absolutely, and you make some good points.

And perhaps simple is the answer. Or maybe writers don't want to catch romance author cooties! j/k. I j/k

My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


Duellists Trilogy (as Julia Knight) coming soon from Orbit!

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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2011, 04:03:34 PM »
And perhaps simple is the answer. Or maybe writers don't want to catch romance author cooties! j/k. I j/k

I think it's more a problem of certain reader demographics not wanting to catch girl cooties...

I've been described as writing "pulsating romance", me. I think it was meant as a compliment :)
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Sex
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2011, 04:07:43 PM »
As long as it's not throbbing....
My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


Duellists Trilogy (as Julia Knight) coming soon from Orbit!

http://www.juliaknight.co.uk/

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2011, 04:09:07 PM »
Definitely no throbbing. Actually, even Mark C is now a bit embarrassed about that adjective in his blurb *lol*

I'm thinking of asking AR if there's still time to take it off the cover...
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Jon Sprunk

Re: Sex
« Reply #27 on: September 28, 2011, 04:54:40 PM »
I think it was around that point that I suggested it was puritanism at work...

Interestingly enough, in the past I've been asked by certain foreign publishers to remove or tone down a graphic (to them, not me) scene in my first book. So different sensibilities do play a part in this.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Sex
« Reply #28 on: September 28, 2011, 05:02:56 PM »
Was that in a non-English-speaking market, Jon?
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Sex
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2011, 06:59:15 PM »
I do think prudishness from a small but strident group of readers and (Gods, I hate saying this) librarians plays a part, I've often grumbled about the small c conservatism that seems to prevail in the genre, but speaking as a reader, I sometimes suspect that there's a hint of fear with sex scenes. The most common, basic fear of all when it comes to consensual sex: that somehow, in some bizarre fashion, you're doing it wrong and as soon as you write about it in graphic detail, everyone reading your story will know how appallingly bad at it you must be, or else how unspeakably depraved you actually are.

I suspect, rightly or wrongly only a huge survey of experienced pros could tell me, that it's easier to write with freedom about the horror of rape, than it is about the joys of consensual sex.

Side Note

If I was reading Lord of the Rings and a big sex scene was sat there on the way to Mordor I would probably think it was stupid.

Considering the all male, cross species nature of the Fellowship and old J.R.R.'s natural reticence on such matters, that would have been the most hilarious thing ever committed to paper. I'm now imagining the scene in both the quaint, bucolic prose of the hobbit sections and the epic, saga-esque prose of the Aragorn sections. Each is equally hilarious in its own way. "Onwards the Three Hunters!" indeed.
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