Are You Writing Body Part Smut?

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Divas on Writing | 0 comments

Are You Writing Body Part Smut?

Divas on Writing:

Are You Writing Body Part Smut (instead of smokin’ hot sex scenes)?

 

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d skip my post on the rigors of revision and write an article highlighting the most horrific, most terrifying plague to ever descend upon a poor unsuspecting writer’s scene. This is scary business, people. Trust me. Today I’m talking about the dreaded disembodied sex scene.

Cue eerie music…and howling wolves…and spine tingling organ solos…

Are you shaking in your boots yet? Well, you should be because we are talking about a story element that can be likened to Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Fabio. Let’s just say that when you pit Fabio against a chainsaw, things don’t turn out too well for poor Fabio. Unfortunately.

It was a dark, lustful, and suitably tense night. Passions ran high as lightning split the air—seemingly from nowhere. His hand caressed my cheek as his eyes roved my form. Flashes of desire sparked in his irises, which glowed with the heat of want. His tongue wet his lips and there was a rosy flush upon his shadowed cheek.

His chest brushed mine, and a groan welled unbidden in my throat. My mind couldn’t help but focus on the feeling of his thick, muscled thigh rubbing against mine. Glorious. Need flared in my belly.

My hand raised to his hair, my fingers hungry to feel the unruly softness. My skin burned from the caresses of his hand, longing for more…

So is the scene above cheesy? You betcha. But did you notice what was missing? There were many body parts doing a lot of things and behaving in sentient ways that just aren’t possible, but never was there just a whole person experiencing the events or acting them out. And this is the problem with disembodied motion—especially when it’s tumbling about like spilled candy corn all over your sensual scenes. Writing sex is hard enough, but it’s just all the harder when you have hands and eyeballs crawling all over the place. (Unruly buggers!) And when you throw in disembodied lips, tongues, breasts and fingers (among other things), things just get downright creepy.

A disembodied sex scene is not only is that scary enough to make your heart thunder (in a bad way), it’s also a shameful waste all that UST you’ve worked so hard to build up. Seriously, why let the hands and eyeballs have all the fun?!? It’s time to shift the focus back to your characters making love instead of letting their fingers do all the walking and their eyes do all the talking.

Look at the scene above again. Do you get the sense that the actual characters are on the sidelines cheering on their body parts? When I read scenes like the one I wrote above, I get this picture in my head (yes, it’s a disturbing place, but that’s beside the point): Mary Sue Wallflower is standing off to the side with Marty Stu Stud cheering on their favorite body parts. They may or may not be dressed like Craig and Arianna fr infamous SNL Spartan cheerleader skits.

I can hear it now. “Go hand, go! You can do it! Lower!”

…and something inside my little cold editor heart feels as though Freddy Krueger just went Nightmare on Elm Street all over me.

Like your readers, when I read a sensual scene, I want to get lost in the beauty, the passion, the romance of it all. I want to imagine this:

ID-10090817

By imagerymajestic Free Digital Photos, image ID: 10090817 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/CouplesPartners_g216-Couple_Making_Love_In_Bed_p90817.html

Not this:

ID-100204126

By hyena reality, Free Digital Photos, image ID: 100204126 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/haunted-wall-part-2-photo-p204126

 

So what’s a writer to do?

Draw the lines of connection

Connect the action to your characters. They should move their body parts instead of the body parts moving themselves. Fingers shouldn’t move of their own accord. Lips are a part of a person and should remain so. If a body part cannot move without the will of the person in whose body the part is, then it should not be portrayed as a single, willful entity.

Don’t give sentience to body parts

Hands don’t think, lips do not crave, skin does not yearn—people do. Connect the emotion and desire to the appropriate player in the scene. I don’t know about you, but seeking hips and longing fingers just weird me out.

Know when disembodied motion is appropriate (and when it’s not)

As much as we editors rail against disembodied motion/action, there actually are times when it is appropriate. Sometimes you may want to give a scene a disembodied feel. Say it’s dark and the characters are relying on touch instead of sight or something scary is happening. The POV character only knows bits and pieces of what is going on. You can use disembodied motion to reveal her state of mind, to show pieces of what she is observing, etc. Say you want to show a character’s emotional state without telling. Disembodied motion can be your friend in such cases as well. Say Character A is very attracted to Character B. Instead of stating outright that she’s enamored, show instead her focus on say his mouth or his eyes or even his hands. Maybe she notices the lay of his jacket against his biceps or the way he swallowed hard when he caught her staring at him. The possibilities are endless. Consider what you focus on when in such a situation. There’s a lot of “showing” storytelling fodder there. :)

That said, while you can use disembodied motion to express a character’s focus or perceptions, be careful and think it through. Can you do the same thing without using disembodied motion/action? The answer is probably yes. If you can write it without the disembodied motion and get the same effect, you should.

 

Disembodied motion tends to be a crutch for authors and is overused to the point that it can even be considered a writer’s tic. So resist temptation and use your best judgment. If disembodied motion is best for your scene and what you are trying to convey, use it without guilt. Just be intentional about it and in the know. Purposefully used disembodied motion looks much, much different from that which is used in ignorance. One is a benefit to your story; the other will put your readers in mind of an Addam’s Family rerun. (Are y’all picturing that crawling hand, Thing? ‘Cause I sure am!) And when disembodied motion/action pops up in a sex scene, well, it can be more a distraction than a help. I’ve seen instances of disembodied action in such scenes that were downright comical. And just like a giggle at the wrong moment can ruin an otherwise sexy time in real life, it’s no different in your book. So before you have your character’s disembodied hand reach out and touch someone in a creepy Thing-like manner, you might want to reconsider.

Now back to writing. :)

 

Shay Goodman (95 Posts)

Shay Goodman is a self-proclaimed maven of mayhem and editing goddess. She has over twelve years of experience in the publishing industry and has worked as a copy editor, proofreader, and a developmental and content editor. She spent several years gainfully employed as a managing editor and director of acquisitions for a small independent press until deciding it was time to strike out on her own once again. Shay has worked with both international and New York Times best-selling authors, most notably: Suzy Duffy and E.L. James. She is proudly a founding member of Write Divas.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: