Writing an Intimate Scene
In the beginning, before people were even called people, they had intercourse. At that time, people didn’t even have a word for intercourse or understand their own biological mechanisms that were driving them. Over time, people came out of the caves, made clothing, formed societies, built cities and became civilized. Along with this development, the subject of intercourse went from a basic human utility to a deeply controversial, personal topic that holds a special place in our society.
Because intercourse is a controversial subject, it is difficult to write about. For me, I felt like writing such an intimate description would somehow stain my writing reputation or offend everybody that read my works. Books, magazines or newspapers that discuss intercourse can be considered “dirty” or at the very least, forward. However, mass media now provides an overwhelming amount of intercourse descriptions with the result being that the subject is less shocking. The problem with this is that our children are absolutely overwhelmed with intercourse information.
As a father, I have mixed feeling about this somewhat recent development. When I was growing up, it was difficult to get any information on the subject. Now with this information freely available, it will make it easier for my daughter to learn about the topic. However, I don’t want my daughter to be bombarded by intense graphic descriptions that are now in every corner of modern life. For example, we allow our daughter to watch the television program, Family Guy. There are intercourse references in almost every episode. I find it amusing that as we are watching television together, she isn’t even interested in the topic. In short, the topic of intercourse no longer holds the same special place it once did. It has become buried in the noise of everyday life.
In my second book (tentatively titled Kim and Gabe Survive,) a romance develops between the two main characters. When I had the idea of the book, I thought that writing an intercourse scene would be easy because I knew the plot. The words flowed into my computer and the result was a very steamy description. Overall, it was passionate and showed a lot of intense emotion. When I finished the book, I went back and self-edited my creation. Upon reading the intercourse scene, I was shocked. It was a very graphic adult description that wasn’t appropriate for what I was trying to achieve.
I toned down the scene to make it more mainstream. Unfortunately, I want a bit too far and the description was almost mechanical. Essentially, I had taken out all of the good stuff. I realized that I needed to better understand who the reader was. Was the reader expecting a graphic adult description or were they expecting a timid rated G description?
I went back over my description several times and made many changes. My goal was not to offend the reader while at the same time, keeping the passionate emotion present. One of my main writing rules I set for myself was not to use 4-letter word descriptions. To me, this is the definition of crossing the line between intercourse and filth. Instead, I used commonly accepted words to describe the intimate anatomy and the feelings shared between two loving people. I struggled with the exact wording to achieve this careful balance. The physical result was in-between an adult and textbook anatomy. The emotional element was in-between Playboy and a courtroom dialog. There is a lot of distance between these stark realities.
I have read a few romance books, and they generally take a different approach. They use lofty words to describe intercourse. For example, the male anatomy would be called something like, “his personal area” or a made-up word like, “gobble horn.” It is then left up to the reader to decode these cryptic descriptions into something understandable. There are hundreds of articles, web pages and writing books to help out romance writers in this effort. Yet, I decided not to take this path.
My reasoning is that the world has changed. Mass media has educated people and they are now mature enough to handle the reality of an intercourse description. In addition, birth control has turned intercourse into a fun normal activity as opposed to onetime privilege. This new level of acceptance is why the book 50 Shades of Grey was so popular. Was it a breakthrough book? In my opinion, it wasn’t. Graphic intercourse descriptions have steadily become more mainstream and 50 Shades of Grey surfed this news wave of reality. Did 50 Shades of Grey somehow help me out? Not really, books/tv/movies have been heading in this direction for a long time.
What will the future hold? Unfortunately, mass media has made the topic of intercourse so mainstream that the impact is nearly gone. The result is that this deeply personal experience is less special to the reader. I think that for many older books, the intercourse encounter was the apex of the story. Now, it’s simply a task. This me that is a bit depressing. At the same time, some people will still remain in past and the topic of intercourse will still be offensive to those people.
The good news is that it is becoming easier to write intimate scenes because there is less pressure to be timid. The bad news is that in the near future what used to be considered XXX rated will simply an unimportant part of all television shows or required reading for our children’s children.
You’re the best -Bill
May 13, 2018
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