My last post was on asexual representation. Literally. Today, I bring you the flip side. I mostly write younger stuff or fade-to-black scenes to avoid any explicitness of this issue, but a lot of you out there are writing it as the forefront of your novel.
At the titular panel, moderated by Jennifer Povey: D’Amanda Martini, Nobilis Reed, Mark L. Van Name, and Lisa Hawkridge managed to keep on topic WHILE keeping it all about books and writing. I was VERY impressed.
Relationships: Marriage and Divorce
For much of history, sex and sexuality revolved around marriages — on either side of the covers. When writing a story, you don’t have to be bound by your cultural assumptions. Your characters should be bound by the cultural assumptions of the time and place they’re in. In historical or contemporary settings — do your research. In science-fiction or fantasy? You can make relationships look like whatever you decide.
Here are some things to consider when worldbuilding.
- How are relationships made official?
- Does your world have a body (church/government/etc) recognizing and validating relationships?
- Or are relationships self-declared? To oneselves? Or to the gods?
- What are the societal expectations that go with a committed relationship?
- Who is allowed to have an official relationship? And to whom?
- Are marriages for life? Or do they have an expiration date?
- How does inheritance work? Blood lines matter more when something’s at stake.
- One can look to the animal kingdom for relationship styles beyond the cis-hetero-marriage for life default-assumption of most of the Western world.
- Here’s a great webcomic series illustrating a lot of varieties of relationships! By Humon Comics #webcomicAddict
- Is pregnancy preventable? If so, a lot of options open up for women.
All societies have taboos around sex. About who you can and can’t be intimate with. When and where it is most acceptable. When world building, you can use traditional taboos as well as your own.
- Depending on your world, there can be all sorts of speciesist taboos:
- Those who hook up with [the tentacle monster/fae/etc] are bad
- Only elite/etc hook up with [tentacle monsters/fae/etc]
- Those who don’t hook up with [tentacle monsters/fae/etc] are bad
- Powerful people have different limitations
- Cersei and Jaime thought they were elite enough to follow the Targaryen rules.
- Sometimes, the elite have tighter restrictions
- Taboos might exist in some places in your world, but not others. Remember that enlightenment isn’t universal, or even uniform.
- Upsetting gender role expectations during intimacy. Who does what to whom.
- If nothing is taboo, people will make something taboo.
Tips for Writing Erotic Scenes
These come from the panelists. I don’t really have much experience with this, but maybe I’ll eventually give it a try.
- Check your own assumptions
- Find inspiration – preferably legal with consenting adults
- Your own experiences
- To get past discomfort
- Just write it.
- Write something so over the top and ridiculous, that you can hopefully get past your inhibitions
- Remember that no one has to ever read it.
- Take suggestions of what to write, so your brain doesn’t get in the way
- Check in about what is making you uncomfortable, is it something you have a reason to care about? Or is it social pressures/my mom might read this (hi mom!)
For another approach — the natural progression for intimacy has been reduced to a formula that you can put into good effect in your own writing! Here’s a great link.
Writers Who Explored Sexuality
People have been exploring sexuality and relationship structures forever. There’s a long history writers – in novels, tv, and film exploring different concepts within their writing and beyond.
Clearly, this list is incomplete, but the panelists gave us a good start.
- Asimov keeps sex short. He wrote one where spores were sex.
- Heinlein’s line marriage in Moon is a Harsh Mistress
- Le Guin
- A Land Fit For Heroes (“darker, gayer, Game of Thrones”)
- By Richard K Morgan (of Altered Carbon)
- Brokeback Mountain
- Discovery – Star Trek finally having an onscreen gay couple
What tips do you have for adding sensuality to your writing?
What authors would you recommend?
(Note: Please avoid explicit material in my comment section. It will be removed. Let’s keep this education, folks.)