i write sex and violence

I've read some things about writing sex and violence lately, and since I write a deal of both (I've tended toward telling people that's what I write, as opposed to the laundry list of erotica, urban fantasy, science fiction, some thriller stuff...) I've been thinking about it a lot, the connections and the disconnect between the two.

The other day, I rebutted (politely) someone calling erotica "porn masquerading as romance." I took a great deal of offense to that statement, one, being a writer of said "porn" and also because lots of great real romances have, well, SEX in them. At least my own personal Great Romance has a lot of really fabulous sex in it, and since we've been married 20 years tomorrow, I'm guessing what we've got going is working okay.

But still, a certain segment (a big segment, actually) would simply call any graphic sex Porn. It makes me wonder if they ever see R rated movies with sprays of blood and trains full of people getting blown up and such. Because fuck me, people will clamor for violence and yet shy away at sex. That disconnect between sex and violence (that sex is shameful but violence is honorable) is the most fucked up thing I know.

There's a great quote from this blog I've been reading:

The funny thing is, we tend to be a lot more comfortable with violence in this country than we do with sex. We’re a flock of Puritanical gas-bags who beg and scream and wheedle to see the bullet-scalped bodies of Al Qaeda terrorists but if we see two dudes smooch on Glee half of America takes a collective panic-poop and pulls out clumps of hair like they were clods of grass.

First, does this guy have absolute and utter command of the language? He has made English his crawling, sniveling bitch.

Secondly, it's something I've noticed for a long, long time.

And then I got to thinking more about how I sometimes refer to my erotica as "inappropriate" novels, as if the sex in them is less appropriate than demons ripping each other up and eating humans for bedtimes snacks in my "mainstream" urban fantasy series. And I thought to myself, Self, who's being hypocritical now?

I mean, seriously?  And then most mainstream novels don't have graphic sex but very well might have bad violence (think thrillers), even though, in my experience, in Real Life, sex is a whole hell of a lot more mainstream than violence, for most people in the US anyway.

I'm about to launch into a big fight scene in the WIP (Sentinel: Archive of Earth). Without giving away spoilers, it's between two people who have had plenty of opportunity to fight but haven't, mostly because one of them makes a point of submitting, which lets the other one walk away without doing too much damage. This time it's submit and die, and the one who tends to pick the fights is going to realize a bit too late just how evenly matched they actually are.  It's a HUGE moment between these two characters, a sort of consummation of their very long, deep relationship.

But it's not always that way. I sort of just wrote the sex scenes in LOST PRINCE, not really thinking much about them. I figured I'd get the logistics down (there's a lot of logistics in sex, and it goes all exponential on  your ass when there's more than two people). Then I reckoned I'd work out the character nuances later. But they were there, definitely there. Each scene brings them both closer and further apart, figuratively, and together they map the evolution of the relationship. (I mean, that's the intention. If they don't then, you know, flame me here or on FB or whatever. Just, for the love of God, buy the book and read it.)

In the past six weeks I have written A LOT OF SEX. (all good practice) And I've found it definitely has an evolution within the relationships. For instance: at one point, this guy ejaculates before he means to--before they actually do the Deed. This is a guy who is a super control freak, so his submission, his losing control is a HUGE thing to his wife. And so it was sort of an icky, messy moment (lets be honest, that just makes a sticky mess) and radically accidental,  but still really a big deal to the relationship. And it demonstrated perfectly to me how writing sex and violence is like writing any other scene; it has to BE characterization, setting, and plot.

I know, rambling and such, with no real conclusion or any great insights.



Turkish tea is super good.

That is all.


Michael Malone said...

Totally agree with you. Not sure about Turkish Tea though.

In fact was talking about this with my first reader after he read my latest WIP. He didn't think I was "going to go there." I asked him if that thought ever occurred to him during any of the fight scenes.

No, didn't think so.

It is such a skewed way of thinking. Power to your "porn".

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Haha, power to the porn. Love it.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

To go more on this, I think it's up to writers to dedicate themselves to personal truths. Sometimes that truth means facing down our demons and we have some pretty serious demons about sex. I thought I was hunky dory with it, but I still shy away sometimes (like I used a euphemism when I first wrote the bit about the premature ejaculation, and then I said to myself, Self, you need to use the proper term and get over yourself. So I did.)

I mean, I'll lie through my teeth here at sex scenes, but my fiction is all about truth. And yes. That is ironic.

Michael Malone said...

Much wisdom you speak. I go on about "truth" all the time when I'm talking to beginner writers - and writer friends often comment about how "brave" I am to be so honest in my poetry. Not all of that is erotic mind you.

Anonymous said...

I like Turkish coffee so much, I wasn't even aware there was any Turkish tea.

Someday I'd like to have my own idrik. Kind of waste though if I have no local place where I can regularly buy the coffee

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

What's an idrik?

They drink tea over there nonstop. It's a social thing, something to gather around, like the smoking, too. I would fit in so well there, as long as I'm in Istanbul where I can have cocktails...

siebendach said...

Argh! No WONDER there are no references to be found online ... I misspelled it!

From Coffeegeek.com:

"Besides the grinder, you need good quality water, good quality, fresh roasted coffee, a stirring spoon made of metal, and a device called an ibrik also called a cezve. This is the brewer. It is usually made of copper, with a long wooden handle, though sometimes it is made out of steel or other metals. The pot has a wide base and a narrow top, with a spout on one or two sides for pouring. Ibriks can be found in a variety of sizes from 2 cup on up to 6 or 8 cups. Note, a "cup" is the size of a large espresso cup - about 3ounces, or 90mls per serving, or less."

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Cool! Do you get a free Djinn with it?

Ginger said...

(laughing softly) It was rather fun getting him so worked up. And, you know, he made it worth my while later.

So he shouldn't worry about it. And I didn't mind the mess. It was rather sweet, really.

Hmmm... how can I make it happen again?
Heh heh heh.

Christine Hardy said...

I really don't care for graphic sex OR graphic violence. I married a guy who loves war movies and had to learn how to steel myself for those scenes. I still can't watch ones that are too gritty. I have to leave the room. I can't watch movies about the Holocaust at all. Anything that might have happened to real people traumatizes me.

I'd rather watch sex, frankly, if I had to choose. If anything, I'm curious.

Oh jeez... when I was in high school our film teacher made us watch "The Killing Fields." I had nightmares for weeks!

Fantasy violence I can sort of accept because it's not real. But I had to watch LOTR at home, rather than in the theatres, so I could fast forward through the gross parts. For some reason the books never struck me as bad as the movies did.

Christine Hardy said...

Interesting how I can write fantasy violence, though. But it's different when I'm controlling it (more or less) and am already familiar with the situation and the characters.

Reading some of your stuff has been so gut-wrenching I could only take it in small doses. The branding scene on the plane, for example, had ME nauseated.

Ginger said...

Betsy? I know you're going to get all weird about me talking to you. But you have to get used to the fact that we really do exist, just in a different plane. And one day you're going to meet all of us and it's going to be really cool.

So chill, sister. Just cross your legs on that lovely rug and meditate and drink your turkish coffee, okay?

I'll bring some scones over later. Plain, with cinnamon. Just the way you like them.

Christine Hardy said...

I've been going back and reading over some of what we've done together over the past eight weeks... yes, it's been eight, not six!... and am amazed at how all of the characters' relationships have grown and changed. It's funny because my main protag actually seems to have regressed a bit. She's starting to annoy me.

Donna Hole said...

Not awkward at all. I enjoyed it; and found myself nodding in agreement.


sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Weird? Yeah, but weird is my middle name, Ginger. Im used to it.