Killer Year–The Class of 2007


Don’t Worry. It’ll Only Seem Kinky The First Time
June 21, 2006, 6:06 am
Filed under: Killer Year Founders, Sandra Ruttan

Author Steve Almond’s 7th rule for writing good sex:
Real people do not talk in porn clichés. They do not say: “Give it to me, big boy.” …At least, they do not say these things to me. Most of the time, real people say all kinds of weird, funny things during sex, such as, “I think I’m losing circulation” and “I’ve got a cramp in my foot”…

Did you blush a little reading that? Want to ditch my post and run right over there and read the rest of his rules? Or maybe your found yourself wondering if Steve’s speaking from experience?

Ever wonder what writers think when they read sex scenes? “It can be very weird when you read a sex scene written by somebody you know, for example. Nobody ever thinks that it’s you when you describe a hideous murder but as soon as you write a sex scene people think that’s you.” – Mark Billingham

Well, that settles that. Note to self: Never send Mark Billingham an arc. Although, dammit, I have his latest right in front of me. Better hope Thorne’s not getting any in this book, or I’ll have a hard time getting that visual out of my head, especially since I’ll see Mark in a few weeks.

This is why my characters are all virgins.

What? You don’t believe me? Come on. My characters are like my children, and when I started writing, I didn’t want to think about them doing the horizontal mambo.

Okay, okay. They aren’t virgins. Physical attraction, desire, sex – it’s a part of life, unless you’re writing about monks or nuns.

Once I got over my inhibitions and faced writing a sex scene, I still had choices to make. What type of sex scene would I write? The catch and release version, where they embrace at the end of chapter 5, and start of chapter 6 he rolls over in bed to talk to her the next morning? The semi-technical manual that details setting, positions and practically makes you live all three minutes the hero has in him? You scoff about three minutes, but if we’re going for the full description, heaven help us if he’s up for more, or we’d be over the line from crime fiction to erotic suspense.

Nothing has been harder – no pun intended – than dealing with the sex lives of my characters.

And, thanks to Mark Billingham, I’m sure it won’t get easier any time soon.

By the way, I may be working on the edits for book #1, but I have 3 books done. So, there may be sex in Suspicious Circumstances but then again, maybe there isn’t. At least now, I have Steve Almond’s 10 rules of writing sex to refer to when I’m working. If I can just find a way to read them without laughing.

Seriously, I don’t visualize the author in the context of their story, but my face goes red when characters get funky. I’m not the only one who finds writing and reading sex scenes a bit embarrassing, am I?

Now, I should get back to writing something steamy, but first I’m heading over to Naked Authors to check out Cornelia Read’s weekly post. Shhh. Just don’t tell my editor. I’m working. Honest.

Sandra Ruttan
Author of Suspicious Circumstances
November 2006

Advertisements

47 Comments so far
Leave a comment

All of which reminds me of the old adage:

Kinky is when you use a feather.
Perverted is when you use the whole chicken.

Comment by JamesO

James, when turkeys mate, they think of swans. (Johnny Carson)

I noticed you avoided the question! Sure, sure, leave me stewing, thinking I’m the only weird one out there…

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Oy. I had chicken for dinner.

The timing of this post is really handy for me; I am working on a sex scene at the moment. Well, not right this second, but anyway. It’s been a struggle. Interesting how I have no problem describing, for example, a bludgeoning, but an intimate moment between two consenting adults has me tied in knots.

Hmmm.

Maybe my characters could tie themselves in knots — that might fix things right up! *wanders off mumbling to himself*

Comment by Bill Cameron

If we don’t hear from Bill for a few days, we may need to send in a rescue party. Someone good with knots, I’m guessing.

The first Bobbie Faye book has a lot of heat / desire, but there zero time for sex since the entire book takes place in about fifteen hours. And they’re in a swamp. With snakes and other unsavory types. The second book, on the other hand, has a couple of very steamy sex scenes. I had no real problem writing them. Putting them in the actual book, though, may prove a lot, er, harder.

Comment by toni mcgee causey

I have a hard time writing sex as well. With the level of creep and dark in my books, a light roll in the hay doesn’t seem to fit. So I go heavy on the innuendo, then close the door. Just like I wouldn’t want to watch my friends having sex, watching my characters do it has that same level of distaste. But I love it in other people’s books, and admire anyone who can really do it.
So there’s a second question… on camera sex, or off camera sex?

Comment by JT Ellison

SNAKES IN A SWAMP!!!

Maybe that can be the Samuel L. Jackson sequel?

GREAT POST, SANDRA!!!

Comment by Cornelia Read

Haven’t written a sex scene, so I can’t speak to that. Reading them? Well, I guess it depends. Most of the time I like them – it reminds me that fully fleshed out (heh!) characters have sex lives, too. The only ones that are really annoying are the sex scenes that are clinical or gratuitous (unless, of course, the character is all about gratuitous sex!). Actually, I like JT’s question about on camera or off. Most of the time I prefer off camera – it leaves more to the reader’s imagination!

Comment by Angie

Regarding on or off camera? Well, yes.

My first novel has a scene that ends with the bedroom door closing. The build-up was what interested me as a writer (and hopefully my readers!) but once the actual hay rolling begins, it was time for the next scene. The actual sex act wasn’t going to move the story forward, so it seemed only appropriate to give my characters their privacy.

The scene I am struggling with now is very different. My goal is to reveal something important about my main character through the way the sex act develops. Finding the right balance between showing just enough action (and not too much!) and showing my character’s feelings about the action has been the challenge. A fun challenge, and I am relieved to see that so far I haven’t broken any of Steve Almond’s ten rules. Much.

For the record, my guy does NOT have the endurance of Rocky Balboa, and his partner is NOT able to communicate her needs almost psychically. (He said, revealing a certain pet peeve about many sex scenes he has read over the years.)

Comment by Bill Cameron

Sandra, loved your post. I guess I’ve employed the “catch and release” technique for my characters — though I never though of it that way. That’s basically because I can’t remember what happens in the middle part anymore.

Comment by Gregg Olsen

Whew! Go back to bed for a few hours, and look what happens!

Bill, the communicating psychically thing? That’s one of the things about sex on tv or in movies. Is it ever realistic? Not too often. But I have to say, does anyone really want to think about, uh, certain sounds or images when they’re reading? There are some things best left to the imagination.

There’s one sex scene that I can think of in a crime novel that was really relevant to the plot – Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses, the first Rebus book. Honestly, I don’t care much for reading sex scenes, but done well, I at least won’t skim it or skip it.

Toni, what makes a sex scene steamy? Is it the amount of detail or the use of sesame oil or does it involve showers or what?

JT, you “admire anyone who can really do it.” No comment.

Cornelia, LOL! And right back at you. Like I said elsewhere, if I’d known you were talking about humping today…

Angie, I definitely lean more toward less detail, more imagination. Like Steve Almond’s rule #3. He makes a great point – you don’t need to spell out everything.

Gregg – ha! Maybe we can get everyone to recommend some good sex scenes to read to help refresh your memory. Come on folks, lets help Gregg out. See, I guess there’s a place for a more explicit sex scene after all…

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Just wrote a scene in which one of the bad guys (a vampire-like monster) kills someone while obtaining some information from him. I’d told my wife I was thinking about changing the servant character she’d created to be a woman so the murder scene might be a bit more sexual. Something odd happened when I went to write it. I kept the servant a man, and to my surprise, it worked better than if it had been a woman. All I could think once I finished was, “I wonder if people will think I’m really that sick and kinky or if they’ll think it was my wife’s idea to have that guy straddling another man?”

For the most part, I find sex scenes boring. After all, it’s rare they do anything to advance the plot. I tend to agree with the idea of less is more. If you’re gonna have a sex scene in there, then I’m more curious to see if the writer can actually give me a reason to justify having it in there.

Comment by Bill, the Wildcat

Leave it to you, Sandra, to stir things up a bit.

Sex?? First thing in the morning? That’s the last think I want to read a—wait a minute…strike that.

I’m a lead the characters and the read to sex then let most of the action happen off screen kind of guy. It’s much steamier if left to the readers imagination.

Comment by Brett Battles

What was the question, Sandra? Oh yes, do other people find reading and writing sex scenes embarassing? Well, no. But what I do find a little bit embarrassing is having someone else, say, my Mum, read one of my sex scenes.

Which is odd, really. Because everyone’s parents have had sex, even the Pope’s.

Generally speaking, I think the ‘close the bedroom door’ approach is best. The actual sexual act rarely advances the plot – more important is that the characters have shared that moment, and then you can tease out all the things that happen because of it. What I much prefer is a scene that is full of sexual tension.

Comment by JamesO

Wildcat (for the sake of clarity) now I’m sort of interested in reading that scene! I agree, seldom does sex advance the plot, although come to think of it, Knots and Crosses, The Burning Girl, A Good Day To Die… they all factored in with the story in terms of affecting the outcome.

Well Brett, I was going to show everyone my respectable side, but it’s still under scientific assessment because of how small it is. Could be a world record.

James, nobody wants to think about their parents having sex. Parents never want to think about their kids having sex, do they? It’s one of those boundaries. Thanks to Mark, now I’m doubly unnerved at the idea of having friends read a sex scene I’ve written!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Sandra, it could be that ‘steamy’ means just how warm the Sesame oil is at just the right moment. Ahem.

Comment by toni

Great. Now when I finally meet many of my fellow Class of 2007 mates at ThrillerFest, I’m not going to be able to look at them without thinking about sesame oil.

Thanks a lot, Toni.

Comment by Jason Pinter

Heh. My mission is complete. (Well, almost. Just wait ’til Friday.)

Comment by toni mcgee causey

I must just be a dirty ho. I’ve always written pretty steamy sex scenes. Just seems natural to me. My publisher wants them steamier, which freaks me out because they’re pretty hot before I give them to her. I guess it’s all relative, eh?

Comment by Tracy Sharp

Just think of it this way, Jason. If you draw Toni’s name in a Christmas gift exchange, you’ll know what to get her!

Trace, yeah, do you ever write steamy! And your publisher wants more? Well, it is relative. Not everyone can write it like you, though. I fear your publisher would die if they had to deal with me.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Can we add “Full of Sesame Goodness” to our tag line???

Comment by JT Ellison

Damnit, JT, you owe me a keyboard now.

(But it should be *warm* Sesame goodness.) (why yes, I am evil)

Comment by toni mcgee causey

Hmmm… Never realized sesame oil was such a kinky thing. How do you make things spicier? Add wasabi? Darn it! Now, I have a craving for chinese food.

Comment by Bill, the Wildcat

Aw guys, damn! Not only will I have this mental image seared into my brain next time I’m reading a sex scene in one of Mark’s books, but you’ve put me off Chinese food too! But since we’re on food, a quote from Victoria Wood, “Foreplay is like beef burgers – three minutes each side.”

Any of this helping Gregg?

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Sandra,

A very funny post. I used to find writing sex uncomfortable, but then I hit my late thirties and started feeling sympathy for seventeen year old boys and their hormonal urges. Now my motto is, bring on the sex. The more the better, at least when I’m reading. 🙂 I imagine when I reach forty-five or fifty this will slow down a bit, but who knows? There’s still a bit of a seventeen year old boy in every man, isn’t there?

Julia

Comment by Julia Buckley

I find sesame oil rather pungent. A drop or two in the wok is nice for stir fry, but for a full-fledged frolick, I think olive oil is a little nicer. First cold press, of course.

Comment by Bill Cameron

And I just turned 35 Julia, so maybe Trace’s publisher will like me soon after all!

You know why a man reaches sexual peak in his late teens and a woman in her thirties? Because any woman at her second best is still as good as a man at his best.

And now Bill’s experimenting with olive oil. What, no takers on peanut oil?

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

my last 4 books didn’t have any sex in them, but the upcoming one has sex in the morgue. my editor was horrified, but i wanted sex in the morgue.

hehehe

Comment by anne frasier

I’m curious Anne. Any research involved?

Wow, and I have an arc for Pale Immortal right here…

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

I think Anne just coined the phrase, “Necrosexual.”

Comment by killeryear

The blog is THREE DAYS OLD and already the birthplace of words and unwholesome acts, not to mention thoughts!

What did we say? Be afraid. Be very, very afraid!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Olive oil is wholesome.

Comment by Bill Cameron

I find it interesting — and very telling — that the post to get the most comments so far is the one about sex. Hmmmm.

Comment by Rob Gregory Browne

I swear, Sandra, you’re like a hand grenade in a crowded elevator. Talk about stirring things up.

As to sex on or off camera, I think it entirely depends on the story that’s being told and the characters it’s being told about. And, of course, the intended audience.

In general, though, I think sex scenes can liven up almost anything. Imagine if Agatha Christie had gotten explicit.

“Work it, you damn Belgian! Work it!” the voice cried. Marple could hear Poirot’s faint bleating in the antechamber and wondered if the American woman was serious about pulling out his moustache.

Comment by Stephen Blackmoore

I’ve written a few erotic stories so I have to actually fight to tone down the sex in anything I write. I remember when I gave my Mum copies of the stories she said: “You dirty girl, where did you get these ideas from.” My response: “Who’s my mother?”

I don’t mind reading it, as long as it’s not really badly done. But there are also novels that the closed door policy works best. And I have to agree that less is more. Doesn’t matter how well it’s done, pages and pages of sex scenes gets boring fast, even if it’s erotic fiction. It’s about titilating not spelling it out.

Love your post Sandra and loved Steve Almond’s rules to writing sex. Hysterical. I wonder if there is author who would ever be brave enough to include a pussy fart in a sex scene. Maybe we should make it a secret challenge?

Comment by Amra Pajalic

Bill, I’ll take your word for it!

Rob, maybe we’re all in the wrong genre. Clearly, we know what gets people talking.

Stephen, LMFAO! So, if you’re my audience, I should get out the whips and chains, right? But I can’t take all the credit for this post. I’d like to thank Mark Billingham, for the shocking mental image I now have to have surgically removed from my mind…

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

I don’t think I’m old enough to read this blog.

Comment by Jason Pinter

I will never right a serious, non sex related post again. Ever.

Comment by Brett Battles

Yes I get embarrassed reading sex scenes well at least the graphic ones. :0 Especially in public like on the train or something. I always figure people can tell what you are reading. 🙂 And if I ever take up writing I’m gonna have to write about nuns. Cause I don’t think I could write all that really steamy stuff that’s out there. But I do think less is more when writing sex scenes. As for on camera or off camera sex I think on camera is fine if done well otherwise send them off camera. :0

Comment by Andrea Maloney

Cornelia sent me (and half the world)!

I’ve been experimenting with writing erotica, and I’ve learned quickly that some things work and some don’t.

If you can’t read it outloud without busting up laughing, it’s not gonna work.

Comment by Edgy Mama

Hey Sandra,

Thanks for leaving me a comment! Loved the article and your blog on it. So so true and hilarious at the same, you gotta love that combo! 🙂 I can definitely say your blog brought my attention to the Killer Year and I’ll be coming back hopefully to find just as interesting, useful and hilariously fun blogs!!

XOXO

mai wen

Comment by mai wen

Should we put up a rating system Jason? NJ when it’s not for your eyes?

Amra, I don’t know about pussy farts. I bet you’d do it, though! I read your post on celebrity porn!

Brett, that’s right. Next week, Sex Toys with Brett Battles. Maybe it can be our weekend question next week, too. “What’s your favourite sex toy?”

My answer is, “Sex toy?”

Andrea, LOL! I have a friend who says when she gets to one of those scenes, she has to read it to the end, because she’s afraid one of her kids will pick up the book, pull it open to the marked page and ask her what kind of stuff she’s reading about!

When I was a little kid, I used to think people could see you through the tv, so I understand the ‘people know what you’re reading in public’ idea.

Edgy Mama! Isn’t Cornelia fantastic?! Yeah, if you can’t read it without laughing, it likely won’t work. I don’t think I could read a sex scene without blushing.

Mai Wen, great post, and thanks for the link to Killer Year! We’re sharing the blog here, but you’ll find we’re all a lively bunch, a great group, and I hear Toni’s mentioning breasts in her post on Friday, so I expect it should attract a lot of attention!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Sandra,
Many thanks…it’s all coming back to me now.
Gregg

Comment by Gregg Olsen

wow. there’s a party going on over here!

necrosexual.

i love it. 🙂

Comment by anne frasier

I can’t believe I missed this yesterday, but I have a good excuse. I was in the zone, I was writing (and I wasn’t even at the “good part”–the sex scene–yet). 😉 . . .

My husband walked into a meeting with elected officials and they were talking about the shower scene in my first book. Yes, my hero and heroine had sex in the shower. (doesn’t everybody?) Then they talked about page 187. Hint: Page 187 and the preceding pages were excerpted in Cosmo.

Yes, our government leaders have nothing better to do than talk about former staff-turned author writing sex scenes. But at least they bought my books 🙂

Comment by Allison Brennan

Well Allison, obviously sex sells! And gets them talking too!

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

[…] Can I get upset about it? Not really, for a few reasons. I blog about people all the time. I gently teased Mark Billingham in my first post on this blog. I didn’t feel guilty, because I was referencing a news article he’d been interviewed for. It wasn’t as though I divulged personal information about him. And Mark knows I like him – surely he knows everything I said was with sincere affection because he’s a friend? – and he can read it here if he wants to, so it isn’t like I’m whispering behind his back. […]

Pingback by Confessions Of A Hypocrite On How An Author’s Life Is Never Their Own, Exactly « Killer Year–The Class of 2007

[…] Can I get upset about it? Not really, for a few reasons. I blog about people all the time. I gently teased Mark Billingham in my first post on this blog. I didn’t feel guilty, because I was referencing a news article he’d been interviewed for. It wasn’t as though I divulged personal information about him. And Mark knows I adore him (surely he knows everything I said was with sincere affection because he’s a friend?) and he can read it here if he wants to, so it isn’t like I’m whispering behind his back. […]

Pingback by Confessions Of A Hypocrite On How An Author’s Life Is Never Their Own, Exactly « Killer Year–The Class of 2007




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: