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RachelleChase
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase

I thought you might agree with my comments about Leigh, Lynne. :-)



lavenderlass wrote:
I've been reading a really good medical, 'A Bride for Glenmore,' by Sarah Morgan. She uses a lot of body language and intuition which I really like, for instance, 'he heard the suprise in her voice,' that would work well on the phone or radio and really involves you with the characters. You've made me want to write a phone conversation now!




Then I'd say Sarah Morgan is doing it right. In real life, we use body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, appearance, and more to make assumptions about people, so it's important to do this in our writing. And, definitely, 'he heard the suprise in her voice' would work well in the telephone scenario.



lavenderlass wrote:
My question is a bit more broad, that looks like I haven't thought it through but I have, and I got stuck, so I thought I'd ask you. What makes a good sex scene and what makes a bad one? I learnt so much from Leigh's examples on dialogue etc. in 'On Writing Romance,' that I hoped you wouldn't mind me asking you.




I don't mind you asking at all - it's a good question ... Like Leigh mentions in ON WRITING ROMANCE, I think the #1 thing that makes for a bad sex scene is simply focusing on the sex. As I've stated in my Good Sex vs. Bad Sex post (I think it was there), the sex scene is not just about the sex. So, in random order, here are some of the things that make a good sex scene:

1. It's believable. The characters should be at a point in the story where it makes sense that they want to have sex with each other. The type of sex should fit the characters (for example, if we've been dealing with a shy heroine who's shown no sign of wanting "kinky" sex, or of wanting to be more aggressive/dominant or in control, having her surprise the hero with whips and chains probably wouldn't work, unless it was a comedy.)

2. The internal conflict should follow the characters into the bedroom. Let's take the example of Tiffany and Zack that I used in the Good Sex vs. Bad Sex post. If Tiffany's insecure about how she compares to more experienced women she thinks that Zack has been with, it should should be present in her thoughts, in her actions (though Zack doesn't have to know it), in her dialogue (once again, Zack doesn't have to realize it). Or let's say Zack's feeling insecure because it's important to him that he rock Tiffany's world, so to speak. The reader needs to see that, in a masculine way, in his thoughts and actions.

3. The sex scene should advance the story. Something should happen in the scene besides just sex. Things should get better or worse for the characters. Using Tiffany and Zack again, based on Zack's glances, touch, etc. Tiffany begins to shake off some of her insecurity, and Zack's feeling like The Man (in a good way) because he's pleasing Tiffany. Or conversely, maybe everything's going well until Zack accidently says or does the wrong thing, which pushes them apart.

4. Use of dialogue (which you've already mentioned). Sexual innuendo, banter, exclamations, reactions, commands, pleas, etc. can all heighten the arousal factor in a sex cene.

5. Appropriate word choices and action for the type of scene. If the characters are overcome by passion and decide to have sex in public, say in a shop doorway on a deserted alley, they're not going to "gently caress" or "lightly touch," nor are they going to have slow, leisurely, loving sex. Buttons are going to pop, fabric is going to rip, and there's going to be a lot of gripping, grabbing, clutching, jerking, etc. going on.

6. Appropriate pacing. I've indirectly alluded to this above. The pace of the sex scene should match what's happening. Sex in a doorway is going to be fast and passionate. In addition to word choices that convey action and passion, the use of short sentences and/or short paragraphs, also shows action.

7. Showing reactions to actions. If we're in Tiffany's POV, we need to experience the sex with her. As Zack says something to her, expresses his reaction to her touch or voice, touches her, etc. what's Tiffany's response to this? What's she thinking? How does she feel? What does she want? Also, though we aren't in Zack's POV, we need to know the same thing about him by his actions and Tiffany's interpretation of it.

8. Vary the use of senses. I tend to rely a lot on sound, sight, and touch in my sex scenes. I rarely use taste and smell, but I'm trying to work on it. The point is to use a variety of senses to give the reader yet another way to experience what the h/h is experiencing. Obviously, you don't have to use all the senses in one scene, but the use of several makes it multi-dimensional.

9. Show the actual sex in an enjoyable way. You can't ignore a description of the actual sex that's happening. You must show them having sex. And you must call body parts by names appropriate for what you're writing. The challenge is to show it in an arousing way, not the instruction manual approach or an overdose of TELLING/describing, i.e., paragraphs of he-did-this-then-this-then-this-then-this. The key to making it enjoyable (or arousing) for the reader is by interspersing the mechanics of sex, i.e., the entering, the thrusting, etc. with the reactions and other items previously mentioned.

I could go on and on but these are some of the items that come to mind. Are you ready to go write that sex scene now, or do you have more questions?

Best,
Rachelle

http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase

I call it "Twenty Things that Could Happen in This Chapter", Rachelle.

We can all come up with a fair number of ideas, pretty easily and quickly -- and some of them are likely to be cliches. But by the time we think all the way to #20 we're having to use some mental muscle -- and really consider the characters -- so those last few are apt to be solid, innovative, creative (dare I say brilliant?) notions.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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sophieweston
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase



LeighMichaels wrote:
I call it "Twenty Things that Could Happen in This Chapter", Rachelle.

We can all come up with a fair number of ideas, pretty easily and quickly -- and some of them are likely to be cliches. But by the time we think all the way to #20 we're having to use some mental muscle -- and really consider the characters -- so those last few are apt to be solid, innovative, creative (dare I say brilliant?) notions.

Happy writing,
Leigh




Oh thank you for reminding me about that, Rachelle and Leigh. I'm editing a mss that's a new venture for me and I keep coming back to a chapter that I just don't feel right with. I'm not sure what's wrong... But it's a grey splurge in the middle of an otherwise pretty bright and buzzy book. Now I'm going to do the 20 Things That Could Happen test, as if the rest of the book weren't written yet. I just bet I've made a wrong choice in there somewhere.

Great thoughts on writing about sex, Rachelle. Very helpful.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.sophieweston.net
www.gettingthepoint.net
Author
RachelleChase
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase

Hi Jenny/Sophie - glad you thought the sex info was helpful. :-) Yes, Leigh's 20 Things That Could Happen technique has come to my rescue many times. Hope it saves you from the dreaded splurge of gray, too. :-)

Best,
Rachelle
http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase

Thanks for those thoughts on sex scenes Rachelle. Reading some good advice like that does give me inspiration to go on. The last few days I've been having real trouble with the fourth scene in my book, the first in his pov. Nothing I do to it seems to help so I'm going to leave it and carry on with the rest & come back to that bit later.

Sorry to hear you've got gray scenes too Jenny/Sophie, but glad to hear it's not just me!

What is the '20 things that can happen?' I can't remember that.

Lynne.
Author
RachelleChase
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Guest Rachelle Chase

Would you like to share the specifics of your problem? I'd be more than happy to try to help.

I think I've changed the rules on Leigh's original '20 Things' concept, so I'll let her tell you her version.

But, what I do when I'm stuck is hold Q&A sessions with myself to get unstuck. Since I'm usually stuck because I've suddenly lost touch with my characters, I might start out with something like, "What does (POV character) want?" Then I start a list of answers, not stopping to judge them, but rather listing every thought that comes to mind. I do this until I have a "that's it!" moment. Then I go on to the next question, which might be related to the answer above, or it may be another related question, like, "Why is (POV character) feeling this way?" and then "What does she want right now?" If I'm still having no luck with the getting answers, I'll ask questions directed towards myself. Like, "Why am I having trouble with this scene?" When I've got enough "that's it!" answers to go on, I go back to the scene.

Best,
Rachelle
http://www.FindingDerek.com
http://www.RachelleChase.com
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Twenty Things...

Twenty Things That Could Happen in This Chapter is exactly that, Lynne -- an exercise where I sit down with a blank sheet and just write down possibilities, no matter how crazy. The first ones tend to be cliches, predictable -- but by the end I'm usually thinking creatively, and that's where the great ideas come in.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Twenty Things...

What a brilliant idea Leigh! it's so simple, and like you say bound to work once you've warmed up a bit. I hope you're feeling better now Leigh, I am. And once I skipped the scene I was working on that I wasn't pleased with, I wrote some really good stuff. Now I'm off to do more and get the 2 books I'm working on finished asap,

Lynne.
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