When we were together, locked like scissors,
nicely buzzed on mini-bar tequila,
she reached down and …
I recently posed the following question on a Google+ group called, “The Inner World of Erotic Dreams:”
As an author, I’m wondering whether words by themselves can stir the same (or even more intense) feelings than pix or videos. This scene is from my novel Bella. Please try to imagine the same scene as played out by actors. Would you take the time to read the words, or would you rather watch the video? If you take the time to read the scene, please tell me any thoughts it provokes.
We took the side entrance stairway to our rooms. Isabel climbed the first wooden step, turned and faced me. The extra inches made us the same height. I put my hands on her waist and we kissed very gently, our bodies barely touching, as if we hadn’t already been together. “I’m not sleeping with you tonight,” she murmured, her lips still brushing mine. I said it was all right. All that mattered was the moment, the feel of her flesh beneath my mouth and fingers, the salty breeze blowing off Charleston Harbor, the thrill of playing out a private moment in public. We might have stayed that way for two minutes or twenty; I couldn’t tell. When I stroked the back of her thighs and dared a caress under her dress, I discovered she was naked underneath. She uttered the soft moan that I remembered from Hank’s pumpkin-colored Mustang, and I knew I’d lost more than my sense of time. I pulled her to me and, for the first time, she resisted. I kissed her neck. “Come to my room. Your heart’s so loud I can hear it. And this … ” I said, reaching between her legs. She laughed and broke away. I kept a hand on her waist. “Don’t you want to feel our bodies touching without clothes?” she smiled naughtily and spun around. When she turned back, her blouse was open and her bra was in her hand. She undid my shirt one button at a time, not even bothering to check the courtyard for spies. When the shirt fell open, she hugged me and kissed my chest. “Nice,” she murmured. “You were right.” I assumed the teasing was over and tried to lead her to my room. Again she pulled back, drawing her blouse closed and climbing two more steps. “Not tonight. I can’t after what happened today. Don’t be mad.”
Mad wasn’t quite the word.
The response in my informal focus group was clear – words can trump images. Said one member, “Words can be more powerful because they require the reader to engage the imagination.”
Why so much porn then? One group member said it’s like everything else. We want instant gratification. Never mind that pleasure delayed is often pleasure intensified.
Which gets to another question for authors trying to weave erotic scenes into their stories. Which sells, sex or sexy?
For me, there are two “don’ts.” One is, don’t indulge in sex scenes simply because they’re available. There must be a point, and the scene must reveal something you haven’t shown yet about the characters, and move the story forward. The second is, don’t lapse into the afore-mentioned porn, or worse, unintentionally funny porn, full of acrobatic acts and contraptions that are better left to professionals.
UNDRESSED AND EXPOSED
Think of all that can be exposed (no pun) by a well-done sex scene: confidence, creativity, knowledge, skill, consideration, and patience, or – uh-oh – insecurity, ignorance, clumsiness, and selfishness. What does the reader take away from a character who wants the lights left on, or who chooses the kitchen over the bedroom, or who slides a zipper instead of tearing it open? What are we to make of Bella after she sleeps with Danny and then says, before anyone’s breathing returns to normal, “You need to go.”
The truth is that, as in life, sex and sexy both sell. Some audiences are impatient, others prefer drawing a little tension-building romance and seduction. The act – and the writing of the act – are intensely personal and subject to another truism, that the more you practice, the better you get. Funny that this is the case, since we are all born with a powerful instinct to procreate and communicate.
If you have written or read a novel where clothes fly and bodies tangle, you probably have some thoughts to share on all this. I’d love to hear them.
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