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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Art of the Sex Scene (ConCarolinas 2014 Writing Panel Notes)

Hello again! As promised in Wednesday's notes, here's what I took away from what was lovingly called "the sex panel". Once again, a different take from what you can find under this tag in the archives. What else can I say? Enjoy! ;)

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The Art of the Sex Scene
Tyffani Clark Kemp, Susan H. Roddey, Alexandra Christian, Crymsyn Hart, Marcia Colette, Tamsin L. Silver, James R. Tuck
Moderator: Emily Lavin Leverett
When you chose to write under a pseudonym, if you did, why?
EL: Edited under a pseudonym because of professional commitments.
TS: Chose a penname because of father’s religious affiliations,
CH: Hart is real, Crymsyn is not, used to work at a place where she might have been fired
AC: Teaching second grade when she started
SR: Writes under 2 names because writes wildly different things. Never intended to write romance. Not hiding anything.
TC: Wanted to publish each genre as a different name because of friends who would have wanted her to write good girl
AC: Why would we have sex if we weren’t supposed to enjoy it? Jesus needs love too.
JT: Working on a Christian erotica in his spare time, called Come to Jesus.
EL: The point is, a lot of it was about our jobs. It’s okay to write something where people get their heads chopped off but it’s not okay to show sex. In this insecure job market people don’t want to risk unemployment.

Audience question: What about copyright issues and theft?
JT: The second you create it, you own the copyright. Frauds and ripoffs will only happen when you’re successful, so don’t worry about it right now.
CH: There was a situation where one person was lifting whole passages from old Harlequin romances, but only after several novels, and it was a reader who picked it up. She’ll probably never write again.

Audience question: Are erotica writers more geared towards finding an agent, or less?
EL: The things erotic writers sell the best are shorts, which usually aren’t represented.
AC: Publishing is so not trad right now; agents don’t want to pick up anyone unless they’re guaranteed to make sales, and lots of smaller presses don’t require an agent.
EL: Even bigger ones don’t want an agent.
JT: Write short, write quick, submit to as many as possible, and once you have a platform and some fans, self publish (from then on). Erotica is where the money is.
AC: And your genre is also important if you’re going to go that route. What’s selling right now are BDSM, male/male.

EL: Men are sexy. Several men are several sexy.
TS: Apparently women not regularly reading regular romance not being comfortable with their sexuality.
JT: Like men watching girl on girl porn.
EL: Edited a lot of m/m, and a lot of them were gay love stories.
SR: The type of women reading this are not outwardly comfortable with their sexuality or admit they’re sexual creatures.
AC: Participate in your own sex fantasies.
Audience comment: m/m Yaoi manga has been popular for years in Japan.

Audience question:  What has changed with women’s roles in erotica, and them taking the stereotypical passive roles?
EL: It can be anything these days.
SR: Depends on the subject, and on who’s writing. Sometimes you can pick up that they’re extremely misogynistic and extremely angry. Occasionally it’s a man you’ve stuck boobs on.
AC: Traditionally in erotica the female roles have been a lot more empowered than they are in traditional romance. A lot of the new wave involves the women being fascinated by the idea of being dominated. A curiosity. We may be trending back that way.
EL: One of the fascinations with 50 Shades is that women are working and taking care of the house, and like the idea of a guy coming in and and saying they’lll take care of everything. It’s a pleasant fantasy.

Audience question: Recently read an article which said that sex lives are disrupted by men trying to make love to their wives to make porn. Are you conscious of realistic sex vs. porn sex when you write?
CH: Make the body parts match up.
EL: And unless you’re writing weird sci-fi the dick can only be in one place at once. But experiencing sex via the written word is different from experiencing it visually.
AC: Issue with the concept that erotic writers and erotic romance writers are writing instruction manuals. A lot of people are taking fantasy in books and porn on television too seriously. Sex is supposed to be about fun, and fun is not always possible in the real world.
JT: When you write a sex scene and you try for reality you realize that reality is messy.
TC: Wants to read something different, steamy, not something she can do in the bedroom.
EL: Awkward sex scenes can be sweet and can even be effective if done right.

Audience question: Do you need experience to write it?
JT: You need research partners.
EL: Or you need the BDSM handbook.
TS: Read books on it, get to know it, look up things on the internet like you probably do already, read books by writers writing great erotica. Emulate what you see. Write stuff, get feedback. Just as you would with any other writng.
MC: Critique groups will give you great feedback.
CH: You can buy the mannequin dolls you can pose. It helps if you’re writing a 4-5 person ménage.
AC: As with anything, readaing in your genre, reading good things, is important. You don’t need a ton of experience. But it does help to have a little bit. Also, watch some porn.
SR: Yes, watch porn. If you don’t have a lot of experience, it helps to have experience of hwo things work and what goes where and what it looks like so that you can make it look okay on paper.
JT: Watching porn is great, but as a male writer if you’re going to watch porn, you have to take porn with a grain of salt, because those ladies in the more extreme porn are not human.
EL: Don’t write “She was so excited when he came and she didn’t.”
AC: Thomas Roche writes incredible erotica. Also, Ellora’s cave is pushing their for men line.
TC: Was a virgin 4-5 months before she started writing her erotica, so you don’t need to be super experienced but you do need to know the basics.
Audience comment: Has toured a BDSM club and sex toy stores.

Audience question: What is the most difficult thing about writing sex?
CH: Making the sex not boring after 80 books. Will cut and paste, then change it because you can only have so many insert tab-A into slot-B.
SR: Sometimes when writing an erotic romance, you can dim the lights and close the door.
JT: You don’t have to constantly one-up yourself. Hopefully sex doesn’t become routine but you do learn what becomes comfortable and enjoyable. There’s a temptation to starting off Vanilla and making it more creative or escalating it. That’s not necessary.
TS: Keeps in mind: How does the sex move the story along? When does someone realize there’s more than just sex. Emotions are important as well. It’s a way to keep it fresh.
AC: Humor is how she keeps it fresh. Sex is supposed to be fun. If it’s not, you shouldn’t be doing it or reading it.
MC: Likes to change up the scene. Change where the sex takes place, to make the sex interesting.
SR: You do it because you can.

Note from the authors: This is very binary. M/M, F/F, M/F – but one thing to keep in mind is that you can’t forget there are things people consider non-normative. There are spaces in erotica where these non-normative voices can be explored. Which is really important in the SF/F community.
AC: Trans is the up-and-coming term.
SR: “Gender fluid”, too.

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