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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Monday, 15 August 2011 23:22

It's Tuesday!  This week I'm answering a reader's question: Do you have any techniques for getting into the right headspace for writing really hot scenes?

Some sex scenes you can put together by the numbers, and they'll shine up okay.  No extraordinary measures required.

Other times you know that you really have to blow the doors off a scene.  It's a pivotal scene, something the reader has been waiting to see, something that will affect how we feel about a character from there onwards, something that sets up or pays off a relationship, something that either resolves a problem or poses a question.

You know it has to be hot.  As hot as you can make it.

Those scenes can be bastards.

Once in a while, one of these scenes will unfold effortlessly.  I'm in the groove, it's easy.  I'm moved by what I'm writing, and it carries me along.  These are my favorites.  The less time I spend working on something, the less it imprints itself on my brain, and the hotter I find it when I reread it.  Since I rarely am able to find porn that appeals to me all the way through, these scenes are always a treat.

Most of the time, though, I have to get a run at it.

I skim over the manuscript for important interactions and character moments between the two (or more) characters.  I jot down some notes about what I'd like to happen in the scene.  Those notes can be as general as "comfort sex" or as specific as "fucking furtively on the balcony, bent over the rail, hand over her mouth, with the party going on in the courtyard below."  They can be as important as "characters realize the depth of their attraction to one another" or as frivolous as "put her in pink stockings OMG!"  Usually this nets me a couple of good mental images, and I start thinking about how to get the characters into that exact situation.

When I am writing any scene involving sexual attraction, even if it's just a handshake, I study pictures of actors or models who remind me of that character.  I spend time really looking at them, picking out the details of their faces.  I may watch a movie, if it's someone whose physical presence is more powerful than their appearance.  I need to know what makes them attractive to me so that I can try to bring that across.  If I put genuine feeling into it, the reader will respond to that.

For a sex scene, specifically, I watch any porn clips I have of fucking that is like the fucking I'm writing.  Porn that has the right dynamic or even just porn that features the same positions.  This can be tough to find, so it's not always possible.

I sleep on it, and mentally drop myself into the situation while I'm drifting off.  This helps cement in my mind the feeling that I want for the scene.  I don't know why, but it's a huge part of my creative process.

Then I block out some time when I will be undisturbed, preferably before Sargon wakes up or after he goes to bed, I look at pictures some more, review notes, remind myself why the scene is important and what about it turns me on, and then I pull the ripcord and write.

Since I write long sex scenes, it's hard to keep a full head of steam through the whole thing.  I often cut right to the most interesting part of the action, the part that is most important, the part that's the hottest, and I often write from there often straight to the end, then work backwards from there.  A good run takes a couple of sessions, a tougher one may take dozens.  The Richard-Stormy-Darius scene in Witches' Mark almost killed me.  In the end, I wasn't in the right headspace, so I had to just hammer it together as best I could, then hand it to Sargon with a request that he "fix it."  Sometimes that happens, sometimes you just can't get in the right frame of mind.  I wasn't feeling very aggressive for the couple of weeks I worked on that scene before handing it over.  Therefore, the scene was not aggressive enough.  This is where having a collaborator is really handy.

Which brings in the other thing that must be considered: mood.  Sometimes I'm not in it.  Sometimes, like I mentioned above, I'm not in the right frame of mind to write a really aggressive scene.  Sometimes I'm bored with anything that isn't aggressive.  I usually try to take advantage of this by skipping ahead in the narrative and writing a scene that does fit my mood, so that I will at least be getting work done on the story, even if it isn't in order.

It's not a process that is really easy to explain, since so much of it is happening on a subconscious level, and I imagine it's different for every author, but that's how I do it.

People are sometimes surprised and I think somewhat disappointed when I admit that this is work, but that is exactly what it is.  It's fun, it's rewarding, it's hot, but it's not always easy!  Even when you're writing about easy boys kissing each other.  Just saying.

Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2011 23:23
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