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Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Is there anything as difficult as writing...

a sex scene? I don't care if it's an intimate encounter between two people who've grown closer and closer, finally making the decision to take it that next step or if it's two strangers swapping anonymous contact for their own personal pleasure and relief. Writing these scenes is difficult. If you give too much detail, you come across as a voyeur, yet if you give too little, you sound like a prude; as if you're incapable of crossing the chasm separating you from your characters.

Sure, you could stay on the safe side, keeping your distance from the intimate details of the personal lives of your characters. But you're a writer, you're supposed to have a strong personal connection to the innermost feelings and motivations of your characters. If the story calls for revealing part of the psyche of your protagonist and significant love interest, and you choose to get all fumbly; if you refuse to make the bridge to that part of yourself which has similar feelings; then how can you write a convincing enough scene? And how can you sell that scene to your readers?

But it's not just about selling those moments of physical passion. It's about selling all of your story to the reader. At some point, you can choose to enter the lives of your characters, or you can choose to view them as pupppets you drag across the stage. Write one way and you'll have a richness of detail and experiences that will hook the reader. Write the other way and your story, while it may meet the technical requirements of X conflicts, Y resolutions, and Z plot points, but it will never draw the reader into the lives of your characters.

I think that having written the scenes over which I've struggled these last two days has helped me to break through from a dispassionate observer watching a shadow play on a stage to an involved participant of my character's lives. I may not keep part, or any, of the intimate scenes I just wrote. But I have a far better feel for my protagonists now, and I think that connection will help me to write this story in a more believable and interesting way.

Yes, this is just my opinion. I'm sure we've all heard the expression, "Opinions are like asses, everybody has one." But the realization may come to you, as well, that something is missing in your visualization of your characters. So whether it's a sex scene, a hostage scene, or even the terror you feel about visiting the dentist, take the time to impart your own experiences and emotions into what your characters feel and how they react. It may open up whole new vistas of character motivation.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cybrludite said...

My main view on it is, "do the hot & sweaty details advance the plot?" My main complaint about Harry Turtledove's alternate histories is the gratuitious sex scenes he seem to bolt onto the story every 150 pages or so. I swear, they need to start putting Fabio on the covers as a warning. ;-) Otherwise, I say descreetly fade to black & pick things up again the next morning with them in bathrobes & having breakfast in bed. (Or twenty minutes later when cash is exchanged, as the case may be.) Of course, I'm pretty much of the Asimov School of Detailing, (Ie, Captain Bob entered the starship's engine room to speak with Chief Engineer Ted. Without half a chapter of technobabble as to how the engines work.) so your mileage may vary.

2:56 AM  
Blogger Derek A Benner said...

In some ways the hot and sweaties *do* advance the plot. However, maybe not enough to waste 4,000 words on them. Still, part of the goal is to force myself to *WRITE* 50,000 words in 30 days. And another aspect is that if I *can't* write these scenes, I have to ask myself, is this because the scenes aren't relevant or is it because I haven't let myself really get into the way my characters think, how they feel, what they believe? If the former, then after the novel is completed, they can be modified or edited out completely. If the latter, then maybe I *do* need to write them just to break through whatever barrier in my mind is preventing me from seeing my characters as fully-formed and self-motivated people.

10:51 AM  

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