When It comes to sex scenes, I’m no expert. I’ve written one sex scene, which was for a novel that will never see the light of day. That said, I’m curious about writers who pen explicit novels, in which the novels are about the sex and the sex is graphic–in your face, so to speak. It’s a hugely popular market, and growing. I’m lucky because one of my good friends, who shall remain nameless, is an award-winning writer, a nice white girl from a nice ‘burbish family, a clean-cut introvert who loves animals and photography …
AND, she’s recently expanded her literary repertoire to gay erotic fantasy. Her first novella, TOUCH OF SALAR, is about a damaged warrior and the monk who tends him, both of them gorgeous and bronzed and sculpted … sigh … can you hear the James Brown? Boom, chicka, boom boom … I just went onto Amazon and read the first few pages …
… Faint scars crisscrossed the truly beautiful almond skin but were hidden among the swirls and tangled vines of an elaborate tattoo that climbed from the crease beneath the man’s left buttock to the base of his neck. His torso tapered …
<fanning myself, oh my>
Oh wait, OK, back on track here. Out there in the racy world, my friend goes by Alexis Duran. After writing Touch of Salar, she immediately landed a publisher and has sold her second novella — bing, bang, boom, all in a few short months. Crazy!
I dragged her here at the last minute to answer some of my questions because I’m sooo curious. Thanks for being a good sport, Alexis!
So, how the heck did you land on erotica anyhow, and gay erotica at that?
Alexis: Confession – I never wrote a sex scene in my life before I wrote the first novella. However, I thought about them a lot. I “wrote” hundreds of erotic stories in my head but never once put them to page. I was too embarrassed or inhibited, or whatever. Blatant envy of a friend’s success in the field spurred me to investigate the erotic market and when I discovered several publishers of erotica who accept novella length submissions, I decided I could give it a whirl without spending a year of my life finding out that I suck at writing sex scenes. I finished the first novella in a month and had a great time doing it. Why gay erotica? Well, that’s what turns me on. You gotta feel the love in order to do this properly.
And what it’s like to write so explicitly, by the way? Is it weirdly fun? Do you find that you have to get creative — do research, yee gads? — about different positions or, uhm, toys and equipment? Do you try to come up with synonyms for “cock,” or does that matter?
Alexis: It is weirdly fun. I still giggle and look over my shoulder during the really explicit parts. Don’t think about it too hard, that’s all I can say. I have occasionally gotten on the floor and done some yoga-like moves to see if what I just wrote is even possible. Mostly I don’t bother with paraphernalia, but if you write kink (BDSM, etc.), then you’d have to do your research. And the Kama Sutra is a good desk reference for any erotica writer.
Repetition is definitely a challenge. I still get red when I think about my list of over-used words from the first book. But I try to stay in my character’s voice, and none of my characters are going to be thinking about “throbbing members” or anything fanciful like that, so we’re kind of stuck with cock and penis. Anything else elicits a laugh instead of a sigh.
Since you’re a woman writing about men having sex, how do you get your masculine groove on for the writing? (Or, are your characters the sensitive types, so you can write them with a feminine turn?)
Alexis: I’ve always enjoyed writing from the male perspective, so I’ve never felt like I had to do anything special to see things in a masculine way. The key is to write a well-rounded (not just well-endowed) character, not a one-dimensional pool boy or brooding billionaire type. Write a real man and the authentic thoughts, feelings and actions will follow. Usually one of my guys is the sensitive type, but it’s a trap to write feminine just because a guy’s gay and/or sensitive.
All week, we’ve been talking about subtlety, tension, using the senses. Do you lay that on too, or get down to it more quickly?
Alexis: Tension is extremely important for me throughout the entire work. I believe pleasure anticipated is much sweeter when it finally happens. And getting all of the senses in there is every bit as important in writing sex as it is in any other writing. Sensual details are what ground the reader and gets them in bed with your characters. Touch, smell and taste really take over once sight and sound get you where you’re going. Subtlety, well, that depends on the characters, doesn’t it?
And, last but not least, would it be too personal to ask if you’ve ever turned yourself on during the writing?
Alexis: I have to turn myself on in order to write a really rousing sex scene. It’s not something I can do “cold.” Maybe over time I’ll get more skilled (more craft, less method), but right now it’s like when I write other emotional scenes. I have to really get inside the character’s head to express what he’s feeling. A friend of mine says she writes the whole book then goes back and inserts the sex. I can’t do that. I have to work myself up to it. All the work it takes to get the characters to that critical point is like foreplay, and if I’m not turned on by then, we’re all in trouble.
This was fun, Alexis! Have to admit, I’m way more curious about erotica than I was previously.
So, readers, have any questions for Alexis, any comments about getting turned on by what you write and/or read, anything at all? Let’s romp!
4 Replies to “Writing Erotica — Talking to Sex Scene Expert Alexis Duran”
It sounds like writing erotica isn’t so different from anything else in terms of channeling character emotion. But your channeling is just much, um, hotter. LOL.
Writing erotica is very much like writing romance in that everything revolves around the characters getting together, but instead of fading to black at that crucial moment we just keep going. The important thing is to create realistic characters readers care about before you get to that point. Otherwise it’s just body parts slapping together.
“pleasure anticipated is much sweeter when it finally happens. ” Yes! Totally agree.
Thanks so much for joining us here, Alexis! It’s fascinating to read about your process, and I love that it still always comes back to the characters (I chuckled when you said bodies just slapping together. Yes, I am a five-year-old in an adult’s body).
Thanks, Natalie. It’s certainly been an entertaining learning process for me and I’m happy to share.
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