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Sex in Stories

Guest Dabeagle

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Guest Dabeagle

For those of you that read my stuff, please be aware that there are spoilers here for some current and still posting items. As with everything else, this is my opinion no matter how pompous it may sound and feel free to discuss.

As a writer I try to imagine good stories, and to do more showing than telling. I say this because those details like the corner of the sheet that just won't stay tucked and, when it slips, leaves you touching the mattress is something small and yet a common thing we share which makes the scene more realistic. However, when it comes to sex, there were a few obstacles.

The first is not wanting to write something that has been said millions of times before. I'm sure most of us know where everything can be inserted and, still, some of our younger members could teach us the ones we may not know. I have never been a fan of 'Insert Tab 'A' into Slot 'B' description, at least when I'm writing it. I prefer, mostly, to leave some things to the readers imagination. That is also complicated by my second reason:

The second is the stigma of being a gay man and writing stories about young men falling in love. No matter what my vehicle for getting them there, that is always my goal is some kind of a love story. However, there is a pervasive thought in this country - and indeed in the more ignorant parts of the world - that being gay equals being a pedophile or that you desire boys, no matter the age, etc. This gets promoted even more if we dare to write what we do, and I dare say some folks are embarrassed of their work - or would be - should the straights find it.

A recent article I shared here had to do with a mother who was dealing with a double standard - that of people assuming her son was taking Zumba to mack on the fourth grade girls - but when told he was gay, they assume he must not know himself because he's young. When we stop to consider that, and compare it to this genre, who better to knwo what it feels like to grow up as a gay boy and be unsure of who to tell? Who better to tell what it was like to not really have to come out? We are, just as all these folks who write teen Rom/Coms where a boy gets his first piece probably know better how that might work. I won't discuss the ones who, apparently, stuck their junk in an apple pie.

When viewed through this lens, I think sexual scenes and situations take on new meaning. After all, we all know teens have sex - look at the underage pregnancy numbers (especially in the abstinence only areas of 'education') and thee is no reason to think the gay members are holding back out of deference to these folks who are procreating.

Of course, the 'sex scene' only works in context of a story - it isn't the story - at least, not for me. I have gotten emails - on for instance loved the Wayward Son story, but really wanted to know when the leads (who, presumably, they'd come to care for/like) were going to get it on - graphically. Unless I need to describe that, never. Now if the story were centered around some kind of intimate sexual relation - then I'd need to think carefully about how to do that. In other words, I'm okay getting descriptive if it meets the story's needs, which I haven't really needed to.

This brings me to my spoiler points.

In chapter ten of Life in a Northern Town I tried to write a very sensual scene. I wanted you to see the other character as the main character did - and for nine chapters I'd already shown his character, but now we were going to have a look at the other bits. I have often said - and used some form of the line - that I think most of us see the pretty package, the paper and the bow that attracts us and wont' know if we like it until we unwrap it. A sparkling personality wont' get you noticed from a cross the room, but being well groomed and dressed may. So I'd already set up the good personality, the grooming, the wrapping paper and the bow - now we needed to look inside the box.

When it comes to people, I can find a number of things attractive - beautiful - without it getting my pecker up, so to speak. Sometimes a face or a feature is as pretty as fine art. There was a fellow at our local Dunkin Donuts with epic dimples. One at our Game Stop who is adorable, including his personality. Sometimes it's eyes, sometimes it's a smile or the way their voice sounds. And, yes, there's always the odd pert butt or unexpected package. My point is, noting beauty doesn't mean you want to sleep with it - the common misconception of gay men writing gay boys.

Another example is the recent 'The Ultimate Gift'. The sexual scenes were pivotal and, I felt , absolutely necessary. The first is far more detailed than the second as was, again, necessary in order to show the difference - the change in the characters - by the time we see it happen again. This was far more about the emotion of the sex than it was the act.

So my philosophy is, now, not to shy away from sex if it fits the story - but that I can adjust the level of detail to fit the story, too.

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You're right, Dave. The other side of the coin is, we do have readers who want more sex, and more graphic sex, and that's one of the main reasons they're reading these stories. Stories on a gay website? With teens in them? Hey, there must be a lot of sex in these. I'm going to read them!

I think my view parallels yours—if there's a need for the sex to be graphic, i.e., is it makes a contribution to the plot that would be missed without that scene, then it's certainly justified.

But I also agree sex scenes can be awfully boring, and you have to use your writer's toolbox just as rigorously or more writing one of those overworked depictions as you do with everything else you write.


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I don't write sex scenes, but I'm quite happy to write the scenes that lead to sex. The reason is quite simple: my primary audience is my wife and she doesn't want to read sex scenes. So, I write around the issue.

Having said that, I would still be reluctant to write a sex scene because most of the time I don't think they're needed. Dave mentioned that teenagers have sex, and points to the teenage pregnancy as evidence. However, not all teenagers have sex, so why should we assume all gay teenagers have sex? Since I like writing about unusual characters, I'm more than happy to write about those gay teenagers who don't have sex (at least 'on camera' :tongue:). I have no problem with other authors writing sex scenes, but it's not for me.

A sex scene can sometimes be viewed as the climax in a romance, but I would argue that sometimes a sex scene can demean a romance. That's generally not true of AD authors, but I've read stories elsewhere where I've been let down by the inclusion of a sex scene at the end. Sex is not love, though it can be an expression of love. But since there are many other things that can be an expression of love, why does sex seem to have such a central position? Why do would we need to have sex described to us for us to feel the love between two characters?

Love has, and hopefully always will be, more important to me than sex. I much prefer to read a story of romance than a story of sex. I'm happy with a story of romance and sex, but there aren't many authors that can get the balance right (from my perspective -- I accept that others will see the balance differently to me). If sex tends to dominate, I feel it demeans the relationship.

So, I keep things simple. I write about love, not sex. My characters have sex -- I just don't write about it. I'll leave the what happens behind closed doors to the readers' imaginations. :smile:

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When I got started posting on Nifty I was 13 years old. I wrote stories with sex scenes. Even "insert tab A in slot B" oral sex scenes. I don't write those any longer, partially because I agree with the what Graeme says in his post above and partially because I write for Codey's World and the submission guidelines are "Nothing explicit."

Now I imply a lot, maybe have some articles of clothing removed, or a decision to shower together, or have some talk about sex and having sex, but nothing explicit. For one thing, like Graeme again, sex is mechanical and what we're really talking about is love. I want my protagonists, if it fits the story, to fall in love with each other.

I also write stories that have no gay characters and absolutely no sex, not even remotely hinted about. I was pilloried a number of years ago when I started posting stories on GA. I posted a story that I felt fit an anthology. No gay characters, no sex at all. Man, the flames I got both in the forum and by PM! I mostly gave up on GA until recently. I posted a short story for a GA Writing Prompt because it sounded like fun. No sex. No pillorying. It's posted on CW, it's Americano. Maybe things over there have changed.

I think a gay author can write gay stories with or without graphic sex scenes. I think a gay author can write stories without gay characters and that have no sex. The main thing about being a gay author isn't the "gay" part, it's the "author" part. I'm an author who happens to be gay. So I'm gay — so what?

Colin :icon_geek:

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I think a gay author can write gay stories with or without graphic sex scenes. I think a gay author can write stories without gay characters and that have no sex. The main thing about being a gay author isn't the "gay" part, it's the "author" part.

Well said, Colin.

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Guest Dabeagle

I think Colin's attitude is great as an end goal, and I certainly agree that it shouldn't stop anyone from writing what they want. I think, for me, there is the significance of the scene - and not avoiding the scene if it's called for.

I'm not suggesting people should handle this one way or another, but for quite a long time I wrote very little that was even sensual. Nothing wrong with that, but there is the question about it not fitting the story or avoiding it for other reasons. It was pointed out in another post that, guys my age writing this stuff, some across as something close to kiddie porn. So there is that stigma that somehow, if you're gay, writing about these kids engaging in things that a lot of them do...means you must want them or some other generalization.

And to Grame's point, yes there are kids that don't engage either, for whatever reason. Nothing wrong with writing things that way either - I think I've just come to the point where I want that flexibility.

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I'm sure that one could write a story with a description of sex that imparted a sense of universal love; the orgasm of the cosmos is after all, known as The Big Bang.

What is love if not an affinity for life's infinite sense of unity?

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Something I said to someone recently that I feel fits in with this conversation:

Sex is about the orgasm, the release.

Making love is about the expression of emotion.

In general, if I'm including sex into a romantic story, I do everything I can to make sure it is "making love". I only use "sex" when I need to establish the fact that it is rooted in lust not love... These are tools, like everything, and as Cole just said, "Let the story dictate".

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I've said this before when the topic has come up, but I find that I'm writing fewer and fewer sex scenes in my more recent stories as compared with my earlier ones. Like others, when I'm confronted with writing one because it's an inevitable and necessary part of the story at a given point, I find myself stopping and struggling. Everything seems repetitive and shallow. So I find myself writing around it, even when the scene would work very well in the story if written well.

I agree that focusing on the entire writing toolbox when writing a sex scene is important and necessary, probably more important and more necessary in some ways to avoid the boredom and repetition. Especially the part about focusing on character's reactions, emotions, thoughts, sensations, etc, rather than an IKEA manual of how it all fits together.

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I think I can use the recently posted "Hidden Talents" as another discussion example, mainly because, although there was sex in it, it actually seemed to be really immaterial to the story. It was all about showing the emotional commitment of two people who are already pretty experienced and mature at loving each other, and could easily spend the rest of their lives without having any sex at all, and it wouldn't impact the deep love they have for each other.

There was one story chapter recently on GA where someone said that it's more important to be with someone you can talk to, because eventually the that is going to be all you have. Being able to talk and do things together, just like humans are wont to do, far outweighs the value of sex. Just like the common stereotype that implies when you are sexually aroused, you are thinking with the wrong brain, sex is really all just about getting an orgasm. Whether or not you laid the emotional groundwork before hand and have built some respect for each other will determine what it actually means once it is over.

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  • 6 months later...

How many ways can you eat a BigMac?

People often say that about writing explicit sex scenes. I think that this assessment is exactly wrong.

They are overlooking one very important thing. It usually involves 2 different people. Even auto-erotic masturbation can be much more than the act itself.

Sexual fantasy is the genesis of creative thought. That is why we write in the first place.

I place a great amount of value on internal emotions during a planned or spontaneous coupling. A character can come out of a sexual encounter totally changed.

A person/character's sexual temperament is an abstract representation of the whole person and you can't really know them without seeing how they behave sexually.

How they behave sexually with one person can be entirely different from how they behave with someone else and it can have different results. This presents a wealth of story material.

So it is not as simple as eating a BigMac.

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