The topic of the day is... *thinks for a little while and tries to come up with something to talk about* Oh, yes. There actually was something.
More specifically writing about sex.
I belong to a main stream critiquing group. There are a few other writers on there who write erotic romance, but most people don't.
There's been a lot of talk on the message boards on if you should include sex scenes in your stories and, if you are going to, do you cut the whole thing down to just one line or do you get down to brass tacks and tell the reader exactly what goes where, and just what are you supposed to call different bits of anotomy?
Quite a lot of people seem to be of the opinion you shouldn't put sex scenes in stories - they don't like reading sex scenes, they don't want to know what the characters get up to once their clothes hit the floor, and since everyone old enough to read about sex should have a pretty firm grasp of the mechanics there's no point anyway.
Well, since I write erotic romance, I suppose you can guess my opinion on this, but I'm going to give you a summery anyway.
First Q - should the sex scene be included?
If you're putting sex in there for the sake of it, surprising enough, my answer is no. The sex scene should add something to the story or you're just wasting words. I'm not saying every single sex scene has to have an earth shattering effect on the plot, but it should tell you something about the characters and the situation. If it does that, it deserves a place in the story.
Second Q - one line synopsis of events or fourty pages of who did what to whom?
Depends on the scene, but 99.999% of the time I like detail. That's where the characters come to life. Because yes, everyone does know the mechanics. But that doesn't mean there's no point writing the sex scene. That's a bit like saying there's no point recounting a conversation between characters because every reader knows how to talk. The fact the characters are talking isn't that interesting - not until you start to listen to what they have to say.
Third Q - what should I call a, um, you know, a man's... um... ?
Well, you don't call it anything. You are writing for the point of view of a particular character. No one gives a damn what you call any bit of anatomy. They want to know what the character calls it. You're inside the character's mind - let them tell you what it is.
I've written some characters who have no trouble calling a spade a spade or a cock a cock. Other characters would blush at the very thought, and they'd rush off to find another word at the earliest opportinuty. That's okay, some characters are easily embarrassed. In the same way, some characters like to make love while others prefer to screw. As long as they're both having fun, it's no problem.
Which leads me to my main point. In my stories I'm not writing about sex. I'm writing about a particular characters experience of sex.
Because isn't that a big part of why people read and why people write? It's the chance to walk a mile in another man's shoes - or to lay a night in another man's bed as the case may be...