Sexy Fictions

As most regular readers of this blog would know by now, I won the National Novel Writing Month this year, putting 50,000 words into a rough draft between the start and end of the month. What you don’t know, though (because this is the first I’ve told anyone), is that some 2000 words of that was smut.

Aside from some by any standard quite embarrassing cybersex back in high school and college, it’s the first I’ve ever created something sexually explicit. No doubt that’s in part due to that Catholic upbringing I wrote about earlier. And I certainly don’t make any claim that it’d be worth reading, given the WriMo ethos of quantity over quality added to the intrinsic silliness of most smut and most first efforts. But I certainly found it exciting, and a little liberating!

Much has been made of the USian double standard when it comes to violence vs. sex, in entertainment. It is far easier to find a TV show that will depict a disembowelment or a decapitation than one that will show a penis. I find that particularly strange, given that sexuality is a significant part of most adult lives, and certainly a much healthier thing in itself than beating the crap out of people tends to be. I often feel the lack of it, when reading or watching things that otherwise portray a wide variety of human needs and experiences.

It’s not that simply finding something titillating is difficult. “The Internet is for porn,” as the song goes, and it takes mere seconds to have the ‘net deliver on that purpose. But the sort of mass-produced stuff that’s easiest to find is soulless and formulaic, quick to deliver a sexual buzz, but entirely bereft of anything deeper. I want it all, I suppose: sexy action that means something due to how it’s situated in a larger narrative. Not just actors, but characters; not just foreplay, penetration, and climax, but character arcs and relationships that, as relationships do, sometimes lead to the bedroom.

I’ve looked for the kind of meaningfully situated sexytimes fiction in various places, to varying degrees of success. I’ve played a few eroge, but it’s difficult to find one whose gameplay doesn’t feel trashy and misogynistic, the player building up points until they can add characters to a portfolio of sexual conquests. This Salon article about a plot-driven porn flick had me hopeful, but the film fails horrifically in the respects the creators boast about; it’s a bunch of conventional pornographic scenes interspersed with badly acted arguments about monogamy, hardly a plot worth following. There’s a whole Web site dedicated to modifying games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to have sexual content, but from what little I can tell before I need to leave in revulsion (there’s a lot of love for… nonconsensual stuff there), it’s as vapid as the rest, adding nudity and erotic animations without any character or plot context.

The closest I’ve come to satisfying this odd craving has been in genre fiction that happens to have great sex scenes. N.K. Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Broken Kingdoms, for instance, have some really well written encounters between their characters that fit perfectly within the greater stories of those relationships. The Saga graphic novels feature some pretty steamy images with their main characters. But it’s difficult to specifically seek those things out, because books are rarely reviewed with this focus in mind.

Which brought me to this point with the WriMo novel. In my outline (I find I’m most successful if I have things mapped out to at least the chapter level, if not scene by scene, before diving in), I had a spot carved out for an amorous encounter between the protagonist and a chief rival. When I got there, I skipped over it. I told myself it was because the relationship between the characters had developed a little differently than I’d planned, and it no longer made sense for them to hook up. Of course, that was my comfort zone speaking.

When I got to the end of the subplot involving these two characters, though, I found that I was only a couple thousand words shy of the 50,000-word target for the month. I wasn’t likely to get very far with something entirely new; I had plenty more in the outline, but I would barely have scratched the surface of the next major arc before running out of space and/or time. So I looked back at that passed-over interlude, and thought, what the hell. Be the change you want to see in the world, right?

It was fun, in any case, though it’s probably for the best that no one else will likely ever read it! Now that I’ve done such a thing once, maybe it’ll be easier to psych myself up to doing it again. Practice makes perfect?


2 thoughts on “Sexy Fictions

  1. Beth N. says:

    1. Smut carried me through my first and second NaNos! The third, less so. So, maybe there’s more of a real story in the third one? (Though I kind of doubt it.) As I mentioned elsewhere, my leads in NaNo #3 resisted jumping into bed together. Or rather, it was a one-way infatuation that the infatuee was resisting. “I’m not averse, but I need more time!” 😀

    2. My first real introduction to erotic fiction was slash fiction based on anime characters (yaoi). I read quite a few over a period of two or three years, but once I moved to CA I fell away from it. I think part of the appeal from the fan writers’ point of view is that the characters and their relationships are already formed from the original story so sexytimes can be the central focus.

    3. In my own puny writings I’ve found it very difficult to create a story where the characters are important to the plot, AND vice versa, AND that has a healthy amount of sex that doesn’t take the whole thing over. I’m still learning. 🙂

    4. If you’re looking for eroticism, romance novels are an option. With strong caveats. While there are a number of authors who are well respected as good writers as well as good writers of genre romance, the few I’ve read have too obviously been category novels. A sex scene at the 50% mark. One or two more before the end of the book. An epilogue showing the happily married couple and one or two children. A happy ending as a foregone conclusion. And so on.

    5. I think publishing categories hamper writers’ ability to include eroticism in their novels that would otherwise fit snugly into a genre. I’m thinking of SF and Fantasy in particular, though I bet it’s also true of Mystery and others. The romance gets shuffled off into women-heavy subgenres like Paranormal Romance. Far easier to find stories that focus on the emotions associated with large-scale conflict (anger, fear, et al).

    • SabreCat says:

      Hah, that’s great! Are there any authors you’d say stand out as having some less formulaic entries in the romance genre?

      On Paranormal Romance: when she read this post, my wife teased me asking if I was aspiring to be the next Laurell K. Hamilton. Yeah, not so much. XD

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