Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Sex, Sex, Sex... That's All You Ever Think About!"

OK, how does one write sex in fiction?
It's so easy to write sex awkwardly (or unintentionally comical)... and you might end up winning the Bad Sex Award. (Go ahead, look. There are no pictures.)

Two challenges of writing sex in fiction:

1. Knowing your audience.
Do you hope to win an all-ages audience? What genre are you writing in?
Readers tend to approach genres with strict genre expectations. Sex will only upset them if they are "surprised" by it.
(Will puberty wizard Harry Potter ever lose his virginity? Probably not. Most of the readers are just not ready for that.)

2. Realism Vs. Romanticism Vs. Pornography.
Real-life consensual sex is glamorous only in the subjective sense -- i.e. for the participants (hopefully). What the participants find "hot", the reader may not. Should you convey what the participants experience, or a give an "objective" seen-from-outside account? You must decide this yourself.

And of course there is non-consensual sex too -- even more difficult to write, since it is offensive and painful on several levels. (This subject is so thorny, I'm not even going to go into it.)

The writer who decides to write about sex, either the implicit or the explicit kind, should have a clear set of objectives:
A) Who is supposed to read this? (People my own age? People of all ages? Men? Women?)
B) Why should the reader want to read this? (To follow the plot? To understand the characters? To get aroused? Or a combination of all three?)
C) Why do I want to write this? (Does it matter to the plot? To the character development? Am I just trying to arouse myself?)

If you don't know why you're writing, if you're not thinking consciously, you will fall into "automatic writing", guided by hormones. The body takes over. The result could end up as pornography (that's "erotica" if you're a woman), and unintentionally comical -- "Bad Sex" writing.

Or you could chicken out, and not mention sex at all. (Chicken.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Renaissance In European Art

During the European Renaissance, the depiction of the human form became more realistic. One could say this trend preceded the realism in fiction: before you could write "the human condition", you had to visualize it.

Here are some examples of Renaissance paintings. (Bear in mind that in those days there wasn't television or computers, so people gave these paintings a lot more attention than we'd do today.).
A 16th-century painting by Botticelli.
A 16th-century painting by Bosch.
A 16th-century painting by d'Aleccio.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Frog And The Ox

There has been a lot of huffing and puffing in the media over some newspaper cartoons.

Let me tell you this fable by Aesop, and then ponder its meaning...
The Frog and the Ox

"Oh Father," said a little Frog to the big one sitting by the side of a pool, "I have seen such a terrible monster! It was as big as a mountain, with horns on its head, and a long tail, and it had hoofs divided in two."

"Tush, child, tush," said the old Frog, "that was only Farmer White's Ox. It isn't so big either; he may be a little bit taller than I, but I could easily make myself quite as broad; just you

So the old Frog blew himself out, and blew himself out, and blew
himself out.

"Was he as big as that?" asked he.

"Oh, much bigger than that," said the young Frog.

Again the old one blew himself out, and asked the young one if the Ox was as big as that.

"Bigger, father, bigger," was the reply.

So the Frog took a deep breath, and blew and blew and blew,
and swelled and swelled and swelled.

And then he said: "I'm sure the Ox is not as big as --"

But at that moment he burst.

Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction.