Oooh La La

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It’s a given that aspiring authors have, at one time or the other, imagined the Big Interview they might have with Barbara Walters or Oprah after they become rich and famous. It always reminds me of that scene from The Commitments when Jimmy Rabbitte, in the bathtub, keeps tossing questions at himself a-la some Rolling Stone reporter, asking about how the band got its start and all the dirty details along the way.

Admittedly, I’ve done it a few times myself–though my true fantasy revolves about how I might teach a college course on how to write and sell a novel. Hey, I know it may sound kinda weird–but I’ve taken a lot of writing courses in my academic career, and not one of them offered much in the way of practical advice. I’m talking about the nuts and bolts stuff: how to handle parallel story arcs, why some dialogue works and some doesn’t, how to make the plot serve your characters instead of the other way around. For good measure, I’d also toss in a week on how to find an agent and market your work at no extra charge.

Oh, and maybe half a class on how to write a sex scene. No course would be complete without that.

Not that I’d be an expert on the subject. In my books, my characters tend to be running away from stuff that blows up–so there usually isn’t much time for them to be caught in flagrante delicto. However, there have been a few occasions where the (ahem!) action drifts in that direction, and necessitates some creative language to describe that most basic of life-affirming acts. Since I’m a nookie coward, I usually get things rolling and then pan away to the fireplace, as it were, allowing the reader’s imagination to fill in the rest. I find that to be the safest course by far, and much less likely to generate laughs when heavy breathing is intended.

That said, there isn’t much of a road map on how to handle the slap and tickle. I could say just write what turns you on–but that could also lead to a whole lotta trouble, especially when people you actually know read your book. So if you must venture down this road, please heed my advice to be careful. As long as you avoid medical references to body parts and keep your similes to a minimum, you should be okay.

Outside Reading: Mark Steyn has a hilarious column on just this subject, which shows that even the literary greats aren’t immune. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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  1. Sally Shears  March 2, 2015

    Well, when it comes to *that kind of action,* just follow your own advice; “Have fun writing, and someone else will have fun reading.”

    I once wrote a “Harry Potter” fan fiction that innovated a love scene between the giant spiders and Ron’s dad’s car. Sure enough, a handful of people found it wildly entertaining (while others simply responded with the usual “What the **** did I just read?”)

  2. Marc G  March 2, 2015

    Sounds like Arachnophobia meets Fifty Shades. Wonder if that sort of thing is covered by the auto maker’s warranty…