Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Squidgy Bits

This came up on Sunday's Wannabe chat. Yes, you know. The... naughty bits. Sex. There, I've said it. So how do you go about writing the more steamy bits in your story? Do you even need to? Perhaps the story can function perfectly well without the sex scene and you can just imply that it took place rather than describe it in graphic detail. I'm sure that's often true, but occasionally the sex scene will have to stay in. For example, with the Nexus story that a friend and I are working on, the plot calls for such a scene, albeit a relatively very mild one. Sex is used as a form of attempted coercion, you see, so I can't completely leave it out. So how to go about it? Answers in the chat room varied from "I just shut the bedroom door and let them get on with it" to "I get them undressed and the cut straight to the post-coital cigarette". Nobody admitted "I describe the whole thing in anatomical detail", which is probably a good thing. We're writing a piece of modern fiction, not pornography (well, I'm not anyway). Neither are we writing a medical textbook. Hang on a minute. Why are we getting in such a twist about this? Perhaps it's a repressed Brit thing? Why not treat it like any other part of the writing? Why not just apply the same rules? I decided that this was exactly the thing to do...


  • Just tell the story: Like Stephen King suggests in "On Writing", for the first cut just get on with the business of telling the story. Graphic details and all, if necessary, but get the main important aspects down in writing.
  • Use five senses: Or as many as is appropriate in the descriptive parts. Yes, really describe the whole event. You are going to edit it later remember, so no need to be bashful at this stage.
  • Realistic dialogue: Make the conversations natural and real. People do not say things like "Oh, give me your manhood" in real life. Don't leave out the giggling either.
  • Research: I'll leave that one for you to work out ;oP


  • Pace: Look at the pacing of the thing. Speed it up, where necessary. For example, cut out those unnecessary words. Do you really need to say "deliciously" so many times?
  • Clich├ęs: Get rid of them! The reader will just groan. Probably out loud. Not for that reason.
  • Show don't tell: Do you know where the biggest sex organ in the body is? Wrong! Go north. It's your brain. This is probably, for me, the most important rule. I prefer to edit things down quite a lot here, so that I end up with just enough for the important plot drivers to remain and leave nearly all of the rest of the details to the reader's imagination. What you are left with will hopefully be more realistic and believable, because it was derived from a realistic longer and fuller version.
It'll be interesting to hear your comments on this. Sally Quilford has lots of useful tips in her blog about this subject. See Ask Sally #25.


Lane said...

Think I must be a Brit Prude but so far my story hasn't really called for any full blown squidginess. I know they're at it, I'm very happy that they're at it but I really don't want to be present whilst they squidge.

One day I may have to open the door and give the reader a peek. I will bookmark your pointers for that day:-)

Jen said...

Ooh, I plan to include some naked wriggling in my WIP - am blushing slightly at the thought of incorporating the senses I'd forgotten though.

Eek - is it too early for a G&T I wonder?

SallyQ said...

**People do not say things like "Oh, give me your manhood" in real life. **

They don't? But but I've based my whole erotic writing career on that belief ;-) (no, not really but thanks for the laugh!)

Thanks for the link. I hope the article is helpful.

Annieye said...

My mind goes blank and my fingers are paralysed when I get to a necessary squidgy bit. I liked this blog, Kev. Good, sound advice. And it made me smile.