March 20, 2013

Writing Club Wednesday: Writing the Sexytimes


As the resident Misfit voted most likely to make you need a cold shower, I thought it was time to address that most excellent of writing efforts.

Writing the sexytimes.

Now, this isn’t going to be another debate about the level of appropriateness of sexytimes in YA. We’ll save that for another day. No, this is the how post, where I pass along some of my fun secrets, so that you can all go off and write your own fabulous sexytimes! Yes, I’m letting my ego out for this. Because I’m not going to get into how far you should go (totally up to you, by the way), I’m just going to hit a few points that cover all the bases.
Image by Jenny Kaczorowski

First, let’s talk about tension. I think we can all agree that good romantic tension is a fantastic thing, but how do you write it? Honestly, I could write a whole blog post just on that, so let me just throw out some tips. 

Tip #1: Make the reader work for it.
There’s a level of push-pull between your characters you have to strive for, if you’re going for tension. A good love-hate relationship is a good way to do that. So is the classic star-crossed lovers theme. However you do it, resist the urge to let your characters make with the kissing on page 5. Unless, of course, you have other plans.

Tip #2: It doesn’t end with a kiss.
Sometimes we’re just so in love with our characters that once we finally let them kiss, we forget that the tension shouldn’t stop there. Kissing should actually create more tension. They’ve kissed, now what? Was it good, bad, wrong, right? Don’t forget your consequences!

Ok, you’ve got your tension. But now what? A lot of us get caught up on the hows. How do I write a good kiss? How do I make it really sexy, or sweet, or make my reader want more? Some of my CPs are absolutely brilliant at the art of writing the sexytimes, but they panic about it every time. Honestly, writing the sexytimes is like writing a fight scene. Here’s what I mean.

Tip #1: If you can’t picture it or do it, don’t write it.
Yeah, I said it. Good sexytimes make sense. They’re easy for the reader to follow. So when all else fails, use the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

Tip #2: Try to stay away from the flowery shiz.
There are good romance novels, and there are bad romance novels, and the difference (besides plot), is writing. Again, keep it simple. But the flip side of that is don’t be crass. Here, let me examplify:

His hand grabbed at her ass and squeezed her into him. - Yeah, crass, and not too sexy (depending on the circumstances).

His hand caressed the smooth, melon shape of her derry-aire, fingers dancing and kneading as he pressed her closer. - Ugh, please. Really?

His hand traced down the line of her back, over her hip. His fingers widened their grip, pulling her to him. - Happy medium, right? Not flowery, not too direct.

Image by Jenny Kaczorowski
The goal is to aim for sensual, without going overboard. And with that in mind...

Tip #3: It’s all about feeling.
There’s two parts to this. Physical feeling, and emotional feeling. So what your characters are doing, and what they’re thinking. Try not to go overboard with the physical by describing every minute detail, but put enough in that your reader can imagine along with the scene. Little details, like how your lip tingles after it’s been bitten, or how the hairs stand up on the back of your neck in anticipation. The little things are always important. They can make or break a scene.

Emotional reactions are part of that. Everyone likes being kissed, but what is your character feeling? Relief? Elation? Conflicted emotions? Does the kiss make him or her stop thinking, or make them want to cry? Again, it’s the little things.

And there you have it! Now go forth, and write the sexytimes!

5 comments:

Lisa said...

LOL at the flowery example.

RANDOM: Those photos are AMAZING.

Cait Peterson said...

Thanks, I had fun with my flowery example. And isn't Jenny amazing? She has the awesomest photos!

Stephsco said...

I typed in some really weird search terms about kissing scenes in google the other day, fearful of what i'd get, and found a post by Malinda Lo from last year that was so helpful. It basically mentioned what you did about building tension, the push/pull, and then centering on how the character felt about it as it was happening. My kissing scenes were laughably brief until I put some real thought into it. It's tough, but I hear it's easier to write these scenes for some writers.

Cait Peterson said...

It can be tough, and for some, it's a lot easier. They come pretty naturally to me, but even among the Misfits, some of us have a much easier time of it than others (though we ALL like reading them)!

Also, like most things, writing kissing/sexytimes gets easier the more you do it. Good luck!

tawney13 said...

Sometimes I do over dramatize the sexytime, even tip # 2, flowery shiz. Yes, awful I know! But I have come to realize, while reading very good books, less is more. But each scene needs to have tension, emotion and feelings. The characters need to feel and seem like real teens. It can be hard because what I pictured as a great love scene is not what my CPs like. Some scenes were laughable! But, hey, I can move on and write a better scene that is more realistic. Your information will defiantly help me out! Thank you! All you Misfits are awesome mentors.

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