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Sexy Writing Fu

August 25, 2008  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, The Craft   0 Comments

How does one deal with sex in a novel?

I remember getting into a discussion with a man from Germany about contemporary American attitudes about sex. His contention was that Americans were too uptight and formal about sex, nudity and what have you. For example, children must not see a single boob on Prime Time TV, yet there was a push for mothers to breastfeed their children. His point was the boob was not sex. It was a boob. Yet we were treating it as such.

I told him there was a segment of truth in that, especially considering that my solution as a parent who objected to the occasional boob would be to take away the TV. But that is a different discussion.

I pointed out however, he was parroting a common European media-fueled stereotype. Witness the firehose (ok that’s a badword) of porn coming out of California. It’s a mountain of porn. And don’t get me started on the interwebs. It’s everywhere.

No, I asserted, our cultural issue with sex has less to do with being uptight, and more to do with political correctness. It is not that we are adverse to sexy things, sexy things right now are politically incorrect. I also made a strong case for There Aint No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. If I want sexy programming, I can pay for HBO or such and get a show like Big Love.

This bias against sex can be found in novels. Either the sexual tension runs its course and the consummation of desires happens behind literary closed doors from the reader, or it is gratuitous and silly. It is a rare gem that actually attempts to deal with two passionate people in a sensual and beautiful way.

I have heard the argument that sex runs better in the imagination rather than in your pages. To a small extent this is true, to a large extent I feel that is an exaggeration. It’s like any other characterization. If you want to establish the character for the reader, ignoring that person’s sensuality can lead to a flat person. A more believable bias against sex is that sexy sex is difficult to write. If the sex is there to sell your book, like 99.99% of the video porn, it’s now just people having sexless sex for money.

I overcome that difficulty by cheating. As a young man I used to write erotic short stories for my lovers, and received appropriate feminine feedback. Soon I was able to tell what my friends liked to read, and what they didn’t.

In Bunny Trouble, my characters are sensual, playful people with a sense of humor and an eagerness to experience life. They have sex.

Any you, dearest 7.3 readers of my blog, get to watch.


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