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How do we keep the sex scenes interesting? - Mo's Journal
March 2nd, 2005
12:50 pm

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How do we keep the sex scenes interesting?
I posted this on the X-Slash community, but thought I'd put it here, too (still trying to get the hang of this whole livejournal thing):

I've been writing X-Men slash for a long time now, mostly Scott/Logan. I never write PWPs; I think of my fiction as character-driven and the sex as necessary to the story and illuminating something about character and relationships. Still, there's a whole lot of explicit sex in my fiction. And I want the sex scenes to be interesting to the reader as well as necessary to the story. I worry about it getting stale, or boring, particularly since as a reader, I've seen that happen in other people's fiction. Truth be told, I sometimes write the story and put in a placeholder for the sex (e.g. "Scott blows Logan. Try to make it sound interesting. Hot, if possible.").

So, I've been thinking about sex in stories and how to make it feel compelling and not repetitive. I started by saying to myself - well, sex irl doesn't get boring. What is it about sex that makes it infinitely interesting and how can I tap into that for fiction? But then I thought some more and realized that people often do get bored with sex irl, particularly people in long term relatonships. So that brings me back to the question - what do people do when they're bored with sex? How can I use what I know about this to make the sex I write not get boring. I mused on this a while and here's what I came up with. I think people bored with their sex lives do a variety of things:

* Experiment with different kinds of sex (and I'd include kink in there, but I don't think it's limited to kink)

* Have affairs

* Read slash (or porn or other stuff - I think slashers have all sorts of reasons for reading slash but spicing up one's sex life comes up again and again as one of them)

* Stop having sex

* Deliberately work with one's lover to make it more interesting.

There are probably others, but that's what I thought of. Some of those are healthy and some aren't - for the individual and the relationship. I guess, since I have a long term relationship with slash :-) and with my readers, I'm trying for the healthy approach to staving off boredom in my fiction. I'm trying to make the sex scenes varied enough and
interesting enough that they won't be boring.

Sometimes that means doing things you haven't before, and at certain points I've said - "Hmmm, I've never written about rimming. That's something I think S and L would do. I should write it." Sometimes I've considered something new (like threesomes) and decided it doesn't really fit their characters or their relationship as I've developed them, even if it would be interesting to write. But mostly, I've just tweaked, not gone with new acts (of which there aren't that many, anyway): sex in different places, under different circumstances, saying different things, thinking different things. A little eroticization of scars here, a little role reversal there.

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on any or all of this...

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[User Picture]
From:hold_fast
Date:March 3rd, 2005 01:13 am (UTC)
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Hey there! Sorry this is so random, but I thought it was awesome that you where on livejournal! I'm a bit slow in noticing this....
I read some of your stories when I was first getting into slash, and I loved the basic layout and the details and research in your stories. Unfortunately, at that point, I had no idea who half of the X-Men characters where, and was just getting interested in it through the movie. I've done a lot of reading and finally got a hold of some -good- character bio sites that helped explain things to a newbie fan such as myself.
I just wanted to drop a line and say that I really respect and admire your work, and hopefully, when I go back and read your stories again, I'll be able to appreciate them to a fuller extent.
(Sorry if this seems stalker-ish or anything. :)
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From:mofic
Date:March 3rd, 2005 01:49 am (UTC)
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LOL! I certainly don't feel stalked. I thank you kindly. I'm very new to livejournal and still getting the hang of it.

I've also added character bios to my site recently. They cover all of my major characters, including my OCs. They're at http://www.angelfire.com/comics/mo/1/bios.htm
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From:opera142
Date:March 5th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
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Here by way of metafandom.

I'e always tried my damnedest to keep the plot simmering during the sex scenes. What I mean is: oftentimes the sex scene puts every other aspect of the story on hold. Everything is ignored while the characters go at it. That's dramatically boring. There's a huge loss of story tension. I try to keep close at hand whatever issues the characters are dealing with.

For example, if I have a character "A" who's feeling low because he was passed over for a promotion, then I'll try to mirror that in the bedroom. His lover "B" might casually dismiss trying something A suggests. While in B's mind, it was just a no-honey-not-tonight type thing, in A's it's why-aren't-my-ideas-ever-considered thing. Keeps the reader reminded of the plot without any boring post-sex inner dialogues, and adds an extra dash of emotion into a typical sex scene.





[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:March 5th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC)
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That's a good point. I do think it's important that the sex scene fit in with the plot. If it stops things, then you probably don't need a sex scene, yk? It should advance the plot, or reveal something about the characters or the relationship, or advance the relationship in some subtle way.

And, as you say, you can convey plot-related information through sex in several ways. It can be in what they do, or what they don't do, or how they do it or what they say. The reader's knowledge of what happened before can imbue the scene with more power than it might otherwise have. And when the reader knows something the character or characters don't, it can increase tension.

Interesting thoughts. Thanks for responding!

From:ex_absolutef238
Date:March 5th, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC)
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opera142
i really think that you just defined what separates it for me ( a fic that I want to read and one that I just end up putting down before I've finish) that's it i think. i am a very character driven, plot driven reader; i never want the character or plot to stop unfolding before me. i mean that is why i read in a fandom instead of just any random erotica. I care about these characters and what they go through.

thanks for you input. i am a beginner (at being a fan and a writer) and I found your comment very insightful.

mofic
thank you i really enjoyed this discussion

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From:sine_que_non767
Date:March 7th, 2005 03:41 am (UTC)
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Here via metafandom...

Sex should advance the plot, yep.

I like your list and think it's certainly true, but also what I tend to do when writing sex (which links into the 'advance the plot' idea, and which you probably think about already...), is to make it much more about the emotions than the kinks. I realise that may sound like I produce masses of gooey fluff, but to be honest, kink bores me when it's not tied in. WHY this kink for this character? Is it about past issues, for example? Does it raise issues now? Do both of them want it, or just one? Also, the handy conflict raised between fantasy and reality, and peoples' expectations of both.

Also am a fan of awkward realistic sex - if in doubt, make it realer (and by that I don't mean ignoring the line between real and just plain unsexy, unless you were going for that. I still want my sex scenes to arouse the reader).

And, once in a while, just writing plain vanilla sex. Because *people* are the most arousing thing in a sex scene, not cockrings or the latest dildo technique. People. Skin. Eyes. The little soft ticklish inch above their bellybutton. All that stuff. :)
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From:mofic
Date:March 7th, 2005 03:54 am (UTC)
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All good and thought-provoking comments. I don't always want my sex scenes to arouse the reader, btw. Sometimes I mean them to be humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes arousing. Sex can have all kinds of functions in a story. Sometimes more than one at a time. The hardest to write, I think, are ones that are both comical and arousing. I try those once in a while...


[User Picture]
From:sine_que_non767
Date:March 7th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC)
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Sex can have all kinds of functions in a story.

If it weren't 4.20am here, I would have thought of that. *headdesks* I agree! :D
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