Welcome back. One of the advantages of asking several authors the same question is the opportunity to discern something about their writing. Their responses, shared in this blog verbatim, can give us glimpses into their style. This month’s replies may also tell us if their work is to be read one handed.
A while back, a reader suggested one of my stories did not belong on Gay Authors. The complaint was I barely included sex scenes. Before I could reply, several others jumped in and made it clear GA is not Nifty. How much or how little erotic content is included in a particular story is up to the author. My views on the subject have evolved with experience. I only include them these days when necessary to advance the plot. And it’s not always just between men.
Let’s see how others feel about the subject. Author responses are listed in alphabetical order.
How difficult is it not to overdo the gay sex part of a story (if there is any as part of it)? After all this is not a hard core gay porn site!
For me it's been very difficult. As a novice author I've been working on trying to figure out how much is too much. My first story I'm afraid is a bit too much but future ones are better.
I don’t think it’s too difficult to keep the scenes of sexual nature within the guidelines of the site. The rules at this site are quite generous. If it’s going to be graphic, give readers a fair warning. Also, there must be an actual story, not just pornographic material. There are other sites where such materials can be obtained. The sex scene serves the story, not vice versa. The key to writing scenes with sexual content is to remember that it’s all about the characters, not the action. Any good scene should reveal something about the characters of the story. The actual sex can be as pedestrian as ‘insert tab A into slot B,’ but that scene may be the key to discovering something vitally important about the characters the reader didn’t know before. By contrast, the action may be hot and heavy and filled with graphic action, but if we’ve learned nothing about the characters, it might have been fun to read, but ultimately it was a waste of time, and could have been easily skipped over.
It’s all about respect for the readers. The scene should offer them something worth reading that adds to the story. Readers react very differently to scenes with sexual content. Some will automatically skip over them as soon as the clothes come off, for others, those scenes are the whole purpose for reading. To each their own. I have found scenes of violent nature to be far more difficult for sensitive readers to process than love scenes.
The manner in which writers describe actions, time, place, atmosphere, and the subtle differences between characters, is critical to success. Describing sexual activity is no different from describing any other activity; there must be sufficient detail to create the mood and flesh out the characters, but not so much that nothing is left to the reader’s imagination. There's a fine line between enough description to set the scene, and what is called ‘over writing’, in which everything is described in excruciating detail, interrupting the flow and risking boredom in readers who don’t need to know the make of the coffee pot or the precise position of the light switch.
Three things are essential to life—food, shelter and procreative sex. If I had to choose two, they'd be food and shelter. Starving people dream about food, the homeless dream of a safe, place to sleep, and a surprising number of people in our societies fantasise about sex. [Apparently, in societies where children are taught that nudity and sex are as natural for humans as for all animals, the ‘western world’s’ obsession with those two things is considered somewhat perverted.]
It’s a good idea for authors to ask themselves why they want to include detailed, graphic descriptions of anything, not only sexual activity. Will all the extra details further the plot and provide greater insight into the character and behaviour of the participants? Serious writers are sparing with detail, because as in every aspect of life, more than enough is too much.
Sex is seldom a totally serious activity. Usually, even where there’s love there’s a bit of embarrassment, humour, exploration, shyness, insecurity… that readers can identify with; their imaginations filling the gaps in ways that please them—provided the writer’s left them with something to imagine.
The writer Christos Tsiolkas was once asked how he worked out how much explicit sexual detail to put in. His reply was to the effect that after writing a sex scene, he has a wank, re-reads it, then deletes most of it.
Very, very difficult. After all, before I joined GA almost all my stories were centered on erotic situations garnished with reality and hardly any plot. I have to admit I miss writing PWP sometimes.
(assuming the PWP = porn-without-plot is a common term ?)
I do not find it difficult at all. For me, sex, whether straight, gay, or otherwise, does not make a story, it is merely a tool to show the love between characters in a way that other scenes might not be able to.
That’s it for February 2020. We’ll be back in a month with more for you to discuss. Oh, yeah, let’s hear what your opinion on the matter is!