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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A spot of discomfort

In this draft and the draft before this, I wrote scenes that are sexual in nature. The one in this draft is a straight-up sex scene; the previous draft was more of a soft-core porn situation. In both instances, writing them (and subsequently reading them) has made me really uncomfortable.

That’s the point of these scenes, though. They’re not fluffy feel-good scenes of intimacy—they’re shows of power and control, of one person over another. “Intimate” sex scenes are easy to write and fun to read, but scenes where sex is a… shall we say “weapon” are occasionally exactly what the plot calls for.

I feel that the first difficulty with writing scenes like those is to make sure that your foreknowledge, as author, doesn’t come through into the narrative. Frequently, you want a scene like that to seem frivolous when you read it and then reveal itself to be sinister once more information is revealed; so you want to keep it light, fun, and sexy. The missteps should seem accidental and inconsequential. You don’t want to have an overwhelming sense of foreboding throughout—that sorta kills the mood. But when you know that what’s going on is actually really skeevy, you have to write it while wearing blinders. Stare straight ahead, right down the sexy barrel of that gun, and don’t glance to the sides—there be monsters.

But the second difficulty with those scenes is standing by them, having confidence in them once they’re written. Looking back at them, you are likely to feel like you shouldn’t have written them, for any number of reasons. Maybe you think you went too far. Maybe you think it’s out of place or inappropriate. Maybe you think you went into too much detail. But most of the time, that just boils down to you feel uncomfortable with it. You know why it’s upsetting and you can’t ignore that. But don’t let that stand in your way. Ask yourself, Does this scene move the plot forward? Does the entire scene move the plot forward, or are there places where you could pare down? Does it say important things about your characters that couldn’t be said as well in a different way?

I think making sure the entire scene is important, is important, (omg word salad,) because you don’t want a scene like that to be indulgent. If you want it to be gross/creepy in hindsight, then you don’t want your readers looking back at it with an uneasy sense that even though it’s icky, they feel like you (the author) want them to enjoy it anyway. Because yuck.

Word count: 21,573 (呅)


1 comment:

Becky Munyon said...

I did like the scene in your previous draft, but something more skeevy and getting right down to the business of sex is much more fitting for the story, especially this new version.
You should hold onto that other one though, or at least some of the lines. It may have a place in another story. It had the right amount of metaphor, without crossing over into "now, what did they just do?"