Warning: Do not read the following paragraphs if you are readily offended about references to genitalia OR if you are under the age of 18, happen to be my mother, or can claim me as your mother (irregardless of age, birth order, or military rank).
Bad sex (either as read or experienced) didn’t prompt me to write this blog. Really.
Rather, a windfall of nifty little love scenes by my critique partners during the past few weeks caused me to reflect upon the often narrow lines between sweet, naive, nicely naughty, nasty, and truly gag-worthy attempts to capture love-making in prose.
Let me emphasize – my CP friends produce phenomenal material. They all write superbly and in such varied voice that I thank my maker every day for their mentorship. I read and marvel at the material they produce. And, honestly, I’m intimidated.
Each offered vignettes to touch upon the range of passion from innocent first love between very young adults – giddy, hopeful and naively erotic – to a spicy ‘balls to the walls’ bit of foreplay featuring immortal, flame-licked skin and . . . uh, um, yeah, thanks ALOT, Meredith. So, where was I?
Ah, yes – in the interest of determining a magic formula for approaching my first draft of a pivotal love scene for my WIP, I hit the internet. After all, how does one admit ignorance about drafting such a scene? I discovered a wealth of advice on this specialty in the blogs and online forums of nearly every imaginable genre. And I am still, undeniably, ill prepared.
My colleagues make it seem easy, but their effort, collective and individual, is decidedly NOT formulaic. I am terrified to offer my pitiful attempt in the face of their skill. Because what if it’s bad? Not just bad bad. What if it’s laughably-OMG-I-can’t-believe-she-wrote-this bad?
I remember the first such scene I read years ago. I can’t recall the title, but I was twelve and scared spitless of getting caught with one of the bodice rippers from the magazine rack in my grandmother’s beauty shop. The smell of perm solution still sparks a sense of guilty panic (hmmm, more fodder for counseling, I suppose).
Growing up on an Idaho farm meant I was familiar with basic biology, but I hadn’t a clue about the human male. And after reading the well-thumbed paperback left by one of Grandma’s clients (each fragile, gracious, blue-haired lady a possible sex fiend), I knew even less about lovemaking.
I ask you — what in the holy hell was I to do with the virginal heroine’s description of the strapping hero as he lay nude, wounded and unconscious?
“His beauty struck my heart, then my loins.
I could not tear my eyes from his manly acorns, nestled in a wiry thatch of dark hair.”
Manly acorns? Wiry thatch? Crimeny, if we’d have been catholic, I’d probably considered vows.
Is there a nonpub version of the infamous Literary Review’s ‘Bad Sex in Fiction’ Award? If someone is taking the time “to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it” for published authors — and mind you, the nominees for this less-than-prestigious tag are famous, well-regarded authors — what in the world faces the rest of us?
I throw myself upon the collective mercy of visitors to the GSWriters’ blog. What tricks, tips, or thoughts can you share to help me? Perhaps even suggestions on what to avoid?
Please. Otherwise, I might be driven to acorns.