Over the last fifteen months I’ve been learning the pitfalls of writing about nookie.
I have struggled to maintain my interest in many book characters when faced with cringeworthy descriptions of their intimate sexual activity with one or more of the other characters. I have sometimes laughed out loud at the writer’s use of clichés and overly graphic descriptions phrased so badly they end up devoid of the erotic passion they sought to convey. I smugly thought “I could do better than that” but now I realize how difficult it is to find the right words. I have not written an erotic novel but the story covers almost twenty years of Ellie’s life and she has more than one intimate physical relationship. I used a few brief accounts of her sex-life to assist in demonstrating her changing attitude towards men as she grows older but, as I work on the 2nd draft, I am finding it difficult not to keep re-writing them.
I would be interested to hear how other authors felt when describing sexual activity in their first novel.
I can’t get it out of my head, my aunt and uncle had an RV they called Nookie. The meaning wasn’t lost on them. But it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word!
I often found another way to say it or use analogies to get some sexual play into my prose. I went off the deep end in “Hungry?” where things get a little out of hand when I haven’t had anything to eat but rice and noodles for months. For example, “cute little butterfly pastas dripping in a creamy white sauce, an Italian waitress with long, dark hair in a tight white T-shirt and jeans and sandals … “
So my suggestion would be to just go for it, see how it goes and see what your readers think!
Bradley Charbonneau’s Pass the Sour Cream A-Z Challenge.
Sorry about the delay in replying to your comment; travelling in an RV called Nookie sounds like a fun place to be! You are right that ultimately I shall just have to go for it and hope the readers approve and I agree about the use of analogies.
The scenes I like to read are those where the situation is evoked, rather than spelled out hoarse gasp by soggy hoarse gasp, so my own imagination is free to take over. I got so prissy the first time I tried to write a sex scene I finally went the other way – designed it to be steam incarnate, then turned the heat down. It wasn’t the scene I finally used, but it did get rid of the prissiness 🙂
Sorry it has taken me a couple of days to reply. I agree about wanting to be left to ones own imagination and this was part of the problem; my first attempts weren’t prissy, just insipid and the next batch seemed too mechanical and unconnected with the evolving character of my leading lady. I have set myself an exercise to write some scenes between characters from other novels before I return to my own manuscript and then, as Bradley suggested, I shall just have to go for it and see what the readers think.
When I wrote Greening of a Heart I wrote some scenes that were never intended for the book but a sexual encounter between two characters behind closed doors where no one could see what was said and done. Not a reader or editor. Written to get it out of my system perhaps. By the time I had written what my grandchildren have no idea is in me, I could get to the emotion of the sex rather than the graphic portrayal. A way to write myself into the scene without shocking anybody. Try it, you might like it.
I think you have described a process quite close to my plan of temporarily withdrawing from my manuscript and writing about sexual activity between characters from another novel, having the freedom of writing scenes for my eyes only, although it sounds as if you have taken it a step further. The emotional build up to each of the scenes dictates the nature (and after-effects) of the encounter and it is balancing each emotional entanglement with the ensuing physical activity that I am still struggling to get right on paper.