Jan. 21st, 2007

reenka: (damned if i do)
Speaking of things I almost never think about... the logistics of writing sex-scenes, specifically in 'mainstream' genre fic (ie, where the point is the plot) so as not to um, scare off or offend those people who get... bothered by such things o_0 I mean, I know that some people skim or are bored with explicit sex-scenes, fine, but I didn't quite realize you can apparently lose readers if you pitch your smut too harsh or make it too disconnected with prior characterization (like in [livejournal.com profile] shusu's post). I mean, I don't want to lose readers, though on the other hand, I kind of feel like 'if you don't like my writing, then it's not -for- you'; still, that's probably naive if you're wanting an audience large enough to 'break through'.

The thing is, I'm thinking about Lois McMaster Bujold's guest post on [livejournal.com profile] commodorified's lj from a month back about the smut in her recent book, 'The Sharing Knife'. And actually, the bits of sexual content were really well-handled in that book and in all her writing-- it's just a pleasure to read because of what I feel to be an open, accepting atmosphere for sexuality (and even 'sexualities') rather than the 'pretending it's not there' thing that goes on in most published genre stuff, even by authors I enjoy (George RR Martin being one of the other awesome exceptions). But though I say that about 'acceptance', I never really thought of the stuff in any of Bujold's books as... a sex scene. I mean, there was well-handled sexual content, but that... that does not a sex scene make.

To quote:
    I posit that in order for a sex scene to “read” level with the surrounding text (in material not intended to be erotic), to a large audience that may contain a lot of non-desensitized readers, content may have to actually be stopped down, muted, or even fade to black.
    See, okay-- if a sex-scene is 'muted', it's probably not about to fulfill its major function of... being erotic. And while you may not be intending to write an erotic scene that may very well (*gasp!*) turn a reader on, that's fine-- you can't really have your cake and eat it too. The scene with the sexy (and therefore the offensive) taken out of it is no longer a sex-scene. It's a scene with sex it it for some non-erotic reason, and that's... that's really something qualitatively different than what a writer who uses erotica for characterization or plot purposes (within the framework of a plot or character-driven story) would do. I think.

In other words, I think Bujold is totally right that what throws some readers out is the fact that "certain subjects -- sex for many readers, violence for a few, other elements for others -- are received more acutely by the psyche." Yes. You can definitely see how that creates a danger for over-emphasis and a possible turn-off for a reader who finds they don't share a given kink with the characters, say. Why not take the easy way out and just write it 'muted', make it a more scholarly, theoretical sort of situation where the reader's not invited into that erotic space themselves. A proper distance is kept, decorum is maintained, some sensitive readers aren't jarred out of the story-- all good, right? Except.
    further ramblerambleramble... -.- )

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October 2007

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