Tag Archives: help

Sex Scene Advice From Diana Gabaldon

Every once in a while I trip over something that begs sharing. This is one golden nugget I had to squeeze in.

My favourite series of all time is Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. The 8th installment in the series is due out this month, and the first book, Outlander, is to debut on the American network, Starz, this August. I won’t even start on the details of the story – I couldn’t do it justice – but I do have to share this little snippet posted today on Diana’s Facebook page. For any romance writer, this advice is priceless. I know this, because she nails it. Every time. Enjoy!

Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon – This is the Introduction to a short book titled “HOW TO WRITE (AND _NOT_ WRITE) SEX-SCENES. #DailyLines #INTRODUCTION #HOW TO WRITE (AND _NOT_ WRITE) SEX-SCENES #standaloneEbook #notoutyet

THE QUICK-START FIVE-MINUTE GUIDE TO WRITING SEX-SCENES
(for those in a hurry)

 


Where most beginning writers screw up (you should pardon the expression) is in thinking that sex scenes are about sex. A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions, not bodily fluids. That being so, it can encompass any emotion whatever, from rage or desolation to exultation, tenderness, or surprise.

Lust is not an emotion; it’s a one-dimensional hormonal response. Ergo, while you can mention lust in a sex-scene, describing it at any great length is like going on about the pattern of the wall-paper in the bedroom. Worth a quick glance, maybe, but essentially boring.

So how do you show the exchange of emotions? Dialogue, expression, or action—that’s about the extent of your choices, and of those, dialogue is by far the most flexible and powerful tool a writer has. What people say reveals the essence of their characters.

Example:

“I know once is enough to make it legal, but…” He paused shyly.

“You want to do it again?”

“Would ye mind verra much?”

I didn’t laugh this time, either, but I felt my ribs creak under the strain.

“No,” I said gravely. “I wouldn’t mind.”

Now, you do, of course, want to make the scene vivid and three-dimensional. You have an important advantage when dealing with sex, insofar as you can reasonably expect that most of your audience knows how it’s done. Ergo, you can rely on this commonality of experience, and don’t need more than brief references to create a mental picture.

You want to anchor the scene with physical details, but by and large, it’s better to use sensual details, rather than overtly sexual ones. (Just read any scene that involves a man licking a woman’s nipples and you’ll see what I mean. Either the writer goes into ghastly contortions to avoid using the word “nipples”—“tender pink crests” comes vividly to mind—or does it in blunt and hideous detail, so that you can all but hear the slurping. This is Distracting. Don’t Do That.)

So how _do_ you make a scene vivid, but not revoltingly so? There’s a little trick called the Rule of Three: if you use any three of the five senses, it will make the scene immediately three-dimensional. (Many people use only sight and sound. Include smell, taste, touch, and you’re in business.)

Example:

The road was narrow, and they jostled against one another now and then, blinded between the dark wood and the brilliance of the rising moon. He could hear Jamie’s breath, or thought he could—it seemed part of the soft wind that touched his face. He could smell Jamie, smell the musk of his body, the dried sweat and dust in his clothes, and felt suddenly wolf-like and feral, longing changed to outright hunger.

He wanted.

In essence, a good sex scene is usually a dialogue scene with physical details.

Example:

“I’ll gie it to ye,” he murmured, and his hand moved lightly. A touch. Another. “But ye’ll take it from me tenderly, a nighean donn.”

“I don’t want tenderness, damn you!”

“I ken that well enough,” he said, with a hint of grimness. “But it’s what ye’ll have, like it or not.”

He laid me down on his kilt, and came back into me, strongly enough that I gave a small, high-pitched cry of relief.

“Ask me to your bed,” he said. “I shall come to ye. For that matter–I shall come, whether ye ask it or no. But I am your man; I serve ye as I will.”

And finally, you can use metaphor and lyricism to address the emotional atmosphere of an encounter directly. This is kind of advanced stuff, though.

Example:

He’d meant to be gentle. Very gentle. Had planned it with care, worrying each step of the long way home. She was broken; he must go canny, take his time. Be careful in gluing back her shattered bits.

And then he came to her and discovered that she wished no part of gentleness, of courting. She wished directness. Brevity and violence. If she was broken, she would slash him with her jagged edges, reckless as a drunkard with a shattered bottle.

She raked his back; he felt the scrape of broken nails, and thought dimly that was good–she’d fought. That was the last of his thought; his own fury took him then, rage and a lust that came on him like black thunder on a mountain, a cloud that hid all from him and him from all, so that kind familiarity was lost and he was alone, strange in darkness.

Like that.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under For Writers, Writing and Getting Published 101

Romantic Shorts v. Facebook

I have a confession.

I, unlike a happy half-billion other people on the planet, including most of my own household, cannot, for the life of me, master Facebook. Apparently, I did not inherit the gene that makes that facet of the Internet clear to me. I don’t understand the draw. I can’t make sense of the interface. I have no envy for those who have conquered the realm in any way whatsoever. I am not in denial of the fact that I have so few friends that I must catalogue them online. Yet I have lived a full and productive life without ever ‘liking’ or ‘friending’ anyone, much to the embarrassment and consternation of my husband and teenagers.

Until now.

I have discovered my achilles heel and, given my now excessive ineptitude, flagrant mistakes, and hopeless potential, I am now confessing publicly to my humiliation.

Because now, this matters. And it matters because, though I never personally had any interest in participating in the Facebook phenomenon, my position regarding Romantic Shorts is a complete contradiction. I recognize the value and necessity of presenting Romantic Shorts via Facebook. I understand, and truly desire the benefits of such an interaction. I have every intention of introducing Romantic Shorts to the world through its very own FB page, and welcome the potential and possibilities that can result.

Unfortunately, for all of the learning I’ve done over the past almost two years – SEO optimization, HTML coding, WordPress.com/WordPress.org, site migration, posts, comments, ping backs, stats, tweets, domains, media files, CSS, tags, and ram – none of it has adequately prepared me for the world of Facebook.

Surely, I cannot be this stupid. How – head in hands in frustration – could my kids, at the age of eleven and twelve, with such a diligent mother as myself, not only conquer Facebook, but keep it all a big secret from me? Okay, wrong question – duh. How then, can my husband, who asks my help with every single document, file, photo, download, and song, have such a rich and fulfilling Facebook experience, while I struggle so painfully?

Do you see my point? He is an online dud. I am a master by comparison. And yet I cannot seem to match his proficiency. And though I detest the use of the ‘F’ word – I warn you, here is comes:

It’s not ‘F’air!!!

He doesn’t need Facebook! I do!

Okay, enough whining. But I did need to vent.

And so, I commit to my attack. I will win this little war that Mr. Zuckerberg has forced upon me. I will prevail, and Romantic Shorts will enjoy a long, happy, and productive Facebook life. I will look back at this obstacle and laugh. Out loud! And I will wonder why and how I could have been so very challenged by what will inevitably become a mere hiccup in my journey. And all of Romantic Shorts’ friends/fans will surely think that I am just a writer with a keen sense of humour, since, obviously, Romantic Shorts will then have the most amazing Facebook page ever! Ahh ha ha!

I am off now, to learn more about my problem so that I can succeed where I have yet to be successful. Time is no barrier. I will keep at it until I win. I am strong. I am woman.

I will go warm my cup of coffee first… This will likely take a while.

Alex.
(In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, I am certainly open to a little guidance?

I started a FB ‘page’ – (blue logo) –  because I didn’t have a personal ‘profile.’ And a company – Romantic Shorts  – must have a ‘page.’ The ‘page’ (blue logo) did not seem to be ‘doing’ what I expected it to do… So I finally created a personal ‘profile’ – (Alexandra Brown) – and then attached a ‘page’ – (Romantic Shorts – red logo) – to that. That seemed okay, but it’s terribly confusing as to whether I’m using ‘Facebook as Romantic Shorts’ or ‘as Alexandra Brown.’ I was going to delete the ‘blue logo’ ‘page’, until I realized that I then lose the 24 ‘likes’ it has – which would allow me to create a Facebook name (or almost). I also just happened to Google Romantic Shorts today and discovered a whole bunch of links to the ‘blue logo’ page, and a new ‘purple logo’ page that I don’t recall ever setting up but seems to be part of The New Writers site and pulls my Facebook feed from the ‘blue logo’ ‘page.’ So I cancelled the delete on the ‘blue logo’ ‘page.’

Now I have three bloody pages and no clue as to what to do with them. Is it any wonder I’m confused? Really, can you blame me? And, if you do have suggestions, while I welcome them, please keep in mind that the mere mention of the words Facebook, page, profile, like, and friend, have the same effect as someone pointing a gun at me. Complete shutdown of all things rational. Except that I’m pretty sure I would lose my self-control and bitch-slap the guy with the gun…)

 

2 Comments

Filed under For Readers, For Writers, Just a Thought, What's New @ R.S.

I Wrote A Book – Now What?

I received an email the other day from a frustrated writer who had just finished her first novel, and who then hit the mysterious locked door of the publishing world.

Yes, that world is a big secret from many of us, but with the right push in the right direction, a new writer can embark on a new career path. Just remember, you can learn everything there is to know. But you will still have to work at it.

Follow W&GP101 link under the ‘FOR WRITERS’ tab above for info for the new writer. And check our website and FAQ’s page for samples and more information. Whether you ever write for Romantic Shorts or not, feel free to access our pages and people for help. We believe in you and your dream. Wherever that leads you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing and Getting Published 101