Writing the Difficult Bits

The difficult bits are probably different for all of us, but I was sitting looking at the computer, ready to start something new, when I found myself thinking about the parts of the my novel which had caused me to writhe about in indecision.

The most difficult I would suggest, is common to everybody (E.L. James excepted ) and that is writing about sex. Hands up, I chickened out completely. It must be difficult enough for established writers to convey passion, excitement and all the squidgy slitheriness needed to engage the reader’s imagination. For new writers it’s absolutely terrifying.

Here’s a quiz. Place a mark at the point on the line where you would be comfortable as a writer, and then as a reader:

Explicit—————————————–Implicit
Anatomical———————————–Romantic
Kinky——————————————-Missionary
Dirty——————————————–Virginal
Detached————————————–Loving
Speedy—————————————–Languorous
Dominant————————————-Submissive

I could go on, this was fun…

If you’re in any way like me, you’ll have placed your markers in different places. I’d suggest that we are more comfortable reading other writers’ sexual episodes than we are creating our own.

So, what to do? I have a deep dread of the ‘Bad Sex’ awards- I’d be mortified to find people sniggering over my carefully crafted scene. In the end, though, the decision about what to include in my novel was decided by the pace of the story – there was only one encounter and that was brief and interrupted, so I got round the problem without really tackling it. (Cowardly woman- I’ll never make a proper writer until I’m braver and ready to take a risk or two)

I know we have to be honest and not absurdly coy to write about intimate moments, whether emotional or physical. At heightened moments we all lay ourselves bare (in so many ways…). To write about these moments successfully is to achieve a delicate balance between the passionate and the prim. I won’t go on to quote Jane Austen at length, but no-one doubts the passion between Darcy and Elizabeth, and they hardly touch. It’s got to be about the quality of the writing, not the explicitness of the vocabulary.

So that’s where I’m going- I’m hedging over on the right side of the list until I get up the courage (or it becomes essential to the story) to explore the vocabulary of the erotic. Then I’ll be doing an awful lot of re-writing. And possibly a bit of home study.

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4 thoughts on “Writing the Difficult Bits

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    A little bit like fight scenes – I always skim over them, too, to get back to the story. Well, at least in crime fiction. I suppose if you are writing romance or erotic fiction, then that’s what you want to see more of.

  2. I stay firmly outside the bedroom door. It’s all been done.

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