December 06, 2019, 02:44:45 AM

Author Topic: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally)  (Read 17709 times)

Offline Rostum

Just a thought and feel free to tell me it's a stereotypical misogynist one, I am big and tough enough to deal with it (and there is no one here to see me cry)

If I was writing an unexpected spontaneous sex scene from a male perspective it would be nearly as simple as wow, unexpected spontaneous sex.
For that to work from a female perspective I suspect the female protagonist would have to have showered, shaved have her make up and hair just so.
Be feeling good about herself and her body and how she looked in what she was wearing. There is no way this is happening if she has her granny knickers on, lingerie by preference.
Any kids would be away staying at friends or relatives and taken care of. Should it happen at home the house would be spotless and the housework just done, the bed linen if a bed is required would be fresh.
At least four paragraphs prior to the scene of what male readers may take as irrelevance are necessary for that sort of spontaneity to work from a female perspective. Or am I completely missing the mark?
 Thinking back over the few romance novels and female perspective erotica I have read there was a lot of what I would consider clutter building up to the sex scenes that is not the primary focus of male readers.

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But what if the "chick" isn't especially hot? What if it's from her point of view? And what if it's between two gay men and you're not gay?

I think the hotness factor works both ways and is overcome by writing your characters well enough for the reader to identify or at least have empathy with them. The Mills and Boon stereotypical fit and rugged (shirtless as well) millionaire comes to mind. Instant attraction becomes less about looks as you age and the desire to reproduce lessens. Sex scenes from a female perspective I would have thought are of more interest than from a male perspective to a male reader, but maybe that’s just me.
 As a heterosexual male I am not as squeamish as some men about homosexual sex scenes if they are well done I have no problem reading them. I rarely give up on a book and am more likely to do so over bad writing that sexual content. Saying that a guy I work with abandoned Cloud Atlas as soon as he found there were gay characters. Even before there was any sexual activity.

Offline Francis Knight

Are we talking IRL or in books? :D

IRL, some women might do all that...but I bet most wouldn't. I used o know a guy whose G always complained he took half an hour in the bathroom before they could have "spontaneous" sex

In romance books, what you call clutter is a build up of tension (or should be). No build up, less fun, no release of said tension/catharsis (this often works in RL sex too, ;)) Anticipation makes hings all the sweeter*

And I think maybe you are generalising a bit on what men want from a sex scene -- my hubby doesn't care for just "insert tab a in slot b, bam, done" sex scenes any more than I do.

Ofc if you find it boring then maybe it doesn't work for you. And sometimes wham bam thank you m'am is what the book needs. But every sex scene? Just as IRl that would be unsatisfying if it was every time...



*As Winnie the Pooh so ably said in the Tao of Pooh, the best bit about eating honey is the moment before the first bite, when you are imagining how good it's going to be. If you just cram it in...much less fun
My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


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Offline Rostum

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Are we talking IRL or in books? :D
Would it matter, how far does suspension of disbelief run in romance novels? I am going to be careful here as you have half a dozen romances in print. My thought is that some details that might be necessary to female readers are less important through to nonsensical to male ones.

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IRL, some women might do all that...but I bet most wouldn't. I used o know a guy whose G always complained he took half an hour in the bathroom before they could have "spontaneous" sex
yup and plenty of girls would take longer. Fool that I am I fell asleep waiting on promise, what can I say it had been a long week and I know she was in the bath for at least an hour and a quarter before I fell asleep, the bed was comfortable and I was tired...Needless to say I was sulked at the next day. Asking why she didn't wake me up didn't seem to help.

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In romance books, what you call clutter is a build up of tension (or should be). No build up, less fun, no release of said tension/catharsis (this often works in RL sex too, ;)) Anticipation makes hings all the sweeter*

Nope anticipation and tension are essential. As is the afterglow.
Irrelevant detail about the cat being fed or the washing up being done are still clutter to my mind and detract from the thread.

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And I think maybe you are generalising a bit on what men want from a sex scene -- my hubby doesn't care for just "insert tab a in slot b, bam, done" sex scenes any more than I do.

I suspect I am generalising what both men and women are looking for from an erotic scene but the OP's thread was asking how to avoid scaring male readers away. My thought originally in this thread was people are different some men may be scared but so may some women, but very few by having an in context love scene well done. Or a completely dysfunctional love scene well written which tend to be more interesting. Writing for female readers may have different priorities than for male ones, maybe not my knowledge and certainly my ability with the written word wont see me in print.

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Ofc if you find it boring then maybe it doesn't work for you. And sometimes wham bam thank you m'am is what the book needs. But every sex scene? Just as IRl that would be unsatisfying if it was every time..

I quite agree if you repeat yourself the way cheaply made TV uses the same cutaway scenes over and over (history channel I am looking at you) you will bore your reader for any scene not just the love scenes.

*And just as important when the jar is empty and the honey was as good as you imagined and your hunger is sated it's important to just be still and content in the moment.

Offline Francis Knight

I admit I am struggling to think of any romance I have ever read in my life that has feeding the cat (or even anything remotely similar) in the build up to a sex scene...Well not in a romance anyway. I've read plenty in fantasy...

WTH are you reading? It's like we are talking about two different things.  Can you give me an actual example? From a romance?

Some readers have different preferences than others -- but that goes for everything. Big descriptions of clothes, banquet scenes that go on and on, not enough description of characters, too much description of characters....Some will love it, some won't

It's not really down to gender, but down to the reader.

PS As for suspension ofd disbelief in romance? In mine, I approach it exactly as I do fantasy. Yeah, some romances are not my thing. That doesn't make them bad.

ETA after some thought, I think I am perhaps taking issue with the fact that you expect all male readers to want porn rather than an actual scene involving two characters

I am not so disparaging of the male gender. Because I know that is not true

Maybe you do not mean that, but that's how it's looking
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 12:34:50 AM by Francis Knight »
My tongue has been in my cheek for so long, I've eroded a new mouth.


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Offline Ryan Mueller

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My characters have sex, but I don't write the scenes because I have no interest in writing them. It's just not relevant to the kinds of stories I write. I'd also say that I don't think I've ever read a sex scene that I felt really accomplished anything apart from showing the characters having sex.

The only time something interesting happens is when the plot comes knocking on the door and interrupts them right in the middle of having sex.

Of course, I'm demisexual (strongly leaning toward asexual), so that might be why I don't get the appeal of sex scenes.

Offline Francis Knight

You know what crack me up?

Abercrombie wrotes sex scenes

Sam Sykes wrote sex scenes

Lots of guys write sex scenes as emotional (or more so) than a romance novel


No one complains about the introduction of it. Even is it is soppy as hell


But if a woman's name is on the cover?


Why is that, do you think?
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 Rostum

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ETA after some thought, I think I am perhaps taking issue with the fact that you expect all male readers to want porn rather than an actual scene involving two characters

I am not so disparaging of the male gender. Because I know that is not true

Maybe you do not mean that, but that's how it's looking

Sorry to have given that impression, I cannot speak for 'male readers' as for myself
while I have no issue with porn what I look for in writing is a little more cerebral. What makes for a good love/sex scene is to be able to identify with the characters and to be caught in the moment with them. whether it is graphic or not it needs to be well written and work within the realities the book has laid out. As Jefgoelz points out writing about mutually satisfying vanilla sex seems pointless. I would add the exception of using it for it for comparison with the mind blowing scene later in the book.

If J Aborcrumbie writes a love scene you know it wont end well and that makes it interesting.
Gore Vidal's writing was graphic in it's day and shocked and horrified as much as it titillated but was always well written usually it was the repercussions from his sex scenes that made the books interesting.

 If any scene can get inside the readers head and mess with it the writer has done their job. My deliberate reading of romance genre is limited and has tended to be picking up a book or magazine while away from my own reading. Some of it was dire and some very good.

Offline Eclipse

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I've just finished reading Robin Hobb  Royal Assassin and I like the way she describes Molly and Fitz relationship, the reader knows that there have made love to each other without the author going into great detail about it I felt anyway

I much prefer this then the descriptive sex scenes like Abercrombie  does.
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Offline Nora

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Just a thought and feel free to tell me it's a stereotypical misogynist one, I am big and tough enough to deal with it (and there is no one here to see me cry)

If I was writing an unexpected spontaneous sex scene from a male perspective it would be nearly as simple as wow, unexpected spontaneous sex.
For that to work from a female perspective I suspect the female protagonist would have to have showered, shaved have her make up and hair just so.
Be feeling good about herself and her body and how she looked in what she was wearing. There is no way this is happening if she has her granny knickers on, lingerie by preference.
Any kids would be away staying at friends or relatives and taken care of. Should it happen at home the house would be spotless and the housework just done, the bed linen if a bed is required would be fresh.
At least four paragraphs prior to the scene of what male readers may take as irrelevance are necessary for that sort of spontaneity to work from a female perspective. Or am I completely missing the mark?
 Thinking back over the few romance novels and female perspective erotica I have read there was a lot of what I would consider clutter building up to the sex scenes that is not the primary focus of male readers.

LOL. I'd say you're a 100% off the mark for most common cases.
As a woman I can guarantee you that "shaving" is something we might do either regularly (or "trimming the bush" or whatever!) or on occasion, like, in your morning shower, if you think you might get laid that day!

Spontaneous sex is spontaneous. And if a guy has spontaneous sex, you can hardly expect the woman to have planned it.
What do you do of all these people having sex in public spaces? In toilets, bathrooms or rooms in parties (yuk...), in bushes (huge in Paris, either prostitutes or gay meetings), ect? Of couples who are horny enough to get in a sheltered alley and make out there?

Now as a single chick working in a very popular restaurant, I can guarantee you that if a man is mouthwatering enough and clearly interested too, I can jump on an occasion. Where would it happen? surely not at my place, too far away. What if we got to my place? My place is NEVER ironed out for anyone, ever. So we'd jump in my bed as it is and that's it.
Would I rush to the bathroom to wear make-up? Certainly not! I don't actually own a single underwear that qualifies as lingerie, besides a bra I never wear. Would that distress me? As if. A guy who flirts with you and hopes to bed you might be turned on by lingerie but I'm still to meet one who'd refuse to go on just because I'm in a black boxer shorts attire.

And wait, that's not even covering 70% of my female co-workers, who are shaving-free feminists who wear shirts under their dresses and white socks past their ankles. They so don't care...

What do you make of my other colleague who was, and somehow still is a "tinder slut"? She matches guys on tinder for their looks and beds them as long as they don't try to hang out or fall in love...

I could go on. I think the bottom line is that impromptu sex happens any time, anywhere, regardless of gender. Men are inherently more "ready" because they have less body care maybe, or never mind much about their underwear, but trust me, at the end of the day, a woman can break and have a spontaneous sex session with a stranger un-shaved and in granny pants, if the stranger is hot enough.
This happening or not, I reckon, depends a lot more on the mindset of the lady. Some women spit on all who dare sleep on the first night after a date, much less sleep with a total stranger.
Some are always as ready as can be and jump on anyone.

With your own partner I reckon it's worse! What counts as spontaneous? You get more and more tolerant and care less and less about appearances.

At the end of the day, if you read a book that is tedious for x pages before a woman gets into "spontaneous sex", you might be facing a poor writer, or someone who never saw that happen in their lives, or don't believe in doing it, ect?
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Offline ultamentkiller

I've just finished reading Robin Hobb  Royal Assassin and I like the way she describes Molly and Fitz relationship, the reader knows that there have made love to each other without the author going into great detail about it I felt anyway

I much prefer this then the descriptive sex scenes like Abercrombie  does.
Not to mention all his sex scenes are grossly described. There's nothing beautiful about them.

Offline TBM

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you might be facing a poor writer, or someone who never saw that happen in their lives

Of course we never saw it. We're fantasy writers. Nerds basically.  :P

« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 07:49:12 PM by TBM »

Offline Rostum

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LOL. I'd say you're a 100% off the mark for most common cases.

I beg to differ.

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As a woman I can guarantee you that "shaving" is something we might do either regularly (or "trimming the bush" or whatever!) or on occasion, like, in your morning shower, if you think you might get laid that day!

And say you haven't  shaved your legs for a week would you be happy to show them to someone new?

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Spontaneous sex is spontaneous. And if a guy has spontaneous sex, you can hardly expect the woman to have planned it.
What do you do of all these people having sex in public spaces? In toilets, bathrooms or rooms in parties (yuk...), in bushes (huge in Paris, either prostitutes or gay meetings), ect? Of couples who are horny enough to get in a sheltered alley and make out there?

I doubt it's very common for two people to meet and have sex. Prostitutes and gay meetings I would not not describe as spontaneous there is an expectation in those situations. Nearly the same at parties. Someone usually plans to surprise there partner in real life and will have made preperations.

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Now as a single chick working in a very popular restaurant, I can guarantee you that if a man is mouthwatering enough and clearly interested too, I can jump on an occasion. Where would it happen? surely not at my place, too far away. What if we got to my place? My place is NEVER ironed out for anyone, ever. So we'd jump in my bed as it is and that's it.
Would I rush to the bathroom to wear make-up? Certainly not! I don't actually own a single underwear that qualifies as lingerie, besides a bra I never wear. Would that distress me? As if. A guy who flirts with you and hopes to bed you might be turned on by lingerie but I'm still to meet one who'd refuse to go on just because I'm in a black boxer shorts attire.

Good for you, however I am not going to accept a French lady working in a famous vegan restaurant in Australia or anyone else working there as my baseline for typical 'cos you ain’t as you describe further down your post. BTW I think lingerie is more about women feeling confident and good about themselves, men like it but by that point are usually more concerned with what it's covering.

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I could go on. I think the bottom line is that impromptu sex happens any time, anywhere, regardless of gender. Men are inherently more "ready" because they have less body care maybe, or never mind much about their underwear, but trust me, at the end of the day, a woman can break and have a spontaneous sex session with a stranger un-shaved and in granny pants, if the stranger is hot enough.
This happening or not, I reckon, depends a lot more on the mindset of the lady. Some women spit on all who dare sleep on the first night after a date, much less sleep with a total stranger.
Some are always as ready as can be and jump on anyone.

Guys are usually looking for sex as a priority, girls, well I haven't got a clue about girls. I did but then I got wiser...
I suspect most girls would arrange to meet the guy later and pop home to shave and change into whatever she felt good in. I have to agree that women are a far greater controlling influence on women's sexuality than men. I am not a fan of slut shaming and find it a despicable trait in men who have often pursued and caught the girl then boast about what the got up to, to hurt or humiliate her, but women are horrific to each other.

Offline ultamentkiller

I promise I'm not trying to be mean. But I feel like you're just arguing at this point. That was a woman, telling you several valid points, and you attempted to discount them all, even the ones that are based completely on the gender. Assuming you are not a woman, you really wouldn't know. I honestly would take her word for it.
As for spontaneous sex not happening often? Yeah, it does. Maybe you've never been in those types of situations before, but it happens. When the urge comes, humans are impulsive and act on it. Have I ever had spontaneous sex? Nope. But I've seen it all around me. Even in my school.

Offline TBM

I would have thought if anything that it was men writing sex from the female perspective that would make  female/feminist readers uncomfortable. That the male writer is suspected of having perverse or creepy motives for writing it, especially with two lesbians. This doesn't apply when a female writer is writing sex from a male perspective, even if writing two gay men. It would be "empowering". When a man does it it's "creepy".

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", girls, well I haven't got a clue about girls"   
 

Generally girls look for resources (hypergamy) and don't prize sex for its own sake the way men do.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 12:50:09 AM by TBM »

Offline Nora

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LOL. I'd say you're a 100% off the mark for most common cases.

I beg to differ.

Then why ask for people with experience in "spontaneous sex" how it rolls, if you already know how it works in most common cases?

And say you haven't  shaved your legs for a week would you be happy to show them to someone new?

YES. Indeed. I'll attach a picture of my legs later on if you want. I haven't shaved in a month. I'm very lucky, I'm not too hairy and you could hardly see anything. As I'll argue later, I also grew up... I know that most men just don't care.

I doubt it's very common for two people to meet and have sex.

Then, again, in my opinion, you know little of the subject. I can guarantee you people meet up for sex pretty much all the time. That's why people go out and party, get on dates, swipe on tinder, ect. But I'll give you examples of spontaneous sex.

Good for you, however I am not going to accept a French lady working in a famous vegan restaurant in Australia or anyone else working there as my baseline for typical 'cos you ain’t as you describe further down your post. BTW I think lingerie is more about women feeling confident and good about themselves, men like it but by that point are usually more concerned with what it's covering.

Ok, so you're really trying to totally discount my point. I'll make myself clearer : I never had a single date or sex encounter with a single customer so far. I'll even tel you I had sex with 2 different people since I came to Australia. None were that spontaneous, I knew what was coming up. I'm very picky with my men, I'd rather go single a while than pick anyone up, even just for sex. I have pretty high standards, however, and as I said, I know quite a few women who would not be half as fussy as I am.

No, most women do not go around in lingerie, and no, it usually doesn't stop them from having sex. Lingerie does make you feel all prepared and pretty, yes, but only girls and vain or very insecure women would freak out about the need of wearing lingerie for spontaneous sex to happen, or think that it's a requirement to be good for men. As I said, we grow up. After a few years most women come to realise that men love a "special night" where she wears assorting lingerie, but that ultimately what most of them want is you naked.
Besides, let's not forget that lingerie is insanely expensive. Even if I wanted to, I could not afford an ensemble to please whoever. It'd far from stopping me from feeling confident.
Women feel confident if they're happy with themselves, their clothing and their charm/attributes.


Guys are usually looking for sex as a priority, girls, well I haven't got a clue about girls. I did but then I got wiser...

And when a girl comes around and tells you her experience, you discard her opinion! Won't help.  ;D

I suspect most girls would arrange to meet the guy later and pop home to shave and change into whatever she felt good in. I have to agree that women are a far greater controlling influence on women's sexuality than men. I am not a fan of slut shaming and find it a despicable trait in men who have often pursued and caught the girl then boast about what the got up to, to hurt or humiliate her, but women are horrific to each other.

Yes. Most girls would arrange things like so, not women who have a little bit of confidence, drive, and experience. You're basically saying that "most girls wouldn't have spontaneous sex."
But it's completely silly. As I said, for a guy to have spontaneous intercourse, you need a woman who has the same.
Here's a story : before I left France, I was in an open relationship for 3 years with a lovely partner I lived with. For a year we shared a 5sq/m flat. I didn't miss a number, I meant the FIVE.
One day my partner went to the post office down the road. And didn't come back for a couple of hours! He came back all excited and bewildered. What had happened? A random woman saw him at the post office, flirted with him, brought him home to have sex and then "k, thx, bye".
Will you tell me that a random woman in france doesn't count cause she's french? She didn't know she was going to fall on a hottie at the post office. She didn't run home to change, how could you, in such an ephemerous situation?

I think overall you're making a big over-reaction of things. You've got no idea how crassy women can be, and how little they can care. Your image of women just doesn't match my general experience. Yes we'd rather look good on the spot, and yes sometimes we prepare a bit just in case, but running home to slap make-up and change? No way.
Saying no to a hot man in the heat of the moment because I'm in fugly underwear? No way. I'd confidently say that most women would feel the same, it'll be a matter of how hot the man, how unique the moment (or how inebriated the people)
There is of course a lot of everything around.

When I said women spit on others being easy, I didn't mean it like this. Just as in them being all high and mighty about when they do it.
Two very useful exercises! Ask the women around you (how old are you btw?) what funky places they had sex in, and how soon do they agree to have sex.
If they're honest, you might be in for a surprise, and I suppose it'll give you an idea of how spontaneous things can get. You know, as in, "on the carpet in a corridor, on the kitchen counter, in a public park, behind a warehouse, (yuk, my ex proudly told me about one of his conquest having 'spontaneous' sex with him on a balcony at a party, they'd just met), in a train toilet", ect.
How soon makes for interesting answers. Some will say "ah, can be on first sight if the chemistry is here" (happened to me), or "as soon as the night of the first date" (also happened to me) but others will be like "after 3 dates" or "never before 7 dates"... And usually it's young girls or old virgins who'll tell you "6 months of dating without sex!" (my former best friend claimed that up until she was 20...)
Others will tell you they won't have sex before marriage.

So, one might conclude that most women are different and that a fair bit of them would happily jump the bones of a man if the chemistry was intense enough and unique enough. I believe that the idea that you might never meet that man again, or that the timing is brilliant, is a strong factor for women who would not naturally jump anyone anywhere.


P.S : You know what, for fun and all, I'll make a written survey at my work answering most of these questions, alon with "what are you wearing, when did you shave last, would you have sex right now if a man steamed you up, ect." It'll be fun.


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Of course we never saw it. We're fantasy writers. Nerds basically.  :P
Aww, @TBM don't say that, you're too young to say that (I hope at least...  :D) But sex can always be awesome, spontaneity is hardly the salt of it.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty