Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Art of Sex - Part II

WRITING ABOUT SEX WITHOUT BLUSHING

Copyright 2008 Diana Gabaldon

These are actually the notes I used last time I taught a workshop at a writers conference on how to write about sex. Now, bear in mind that I normally use something like a stream of consciousness when I do workshops. [g] Since I'd never taught this one before, though, and it was my first attempt at consciously verbalizing what I know about the subject, I did make a sort of hasty outline, which I present as follows, accompanied by a rough paraphrase of the kind of thing I said.

[ahem]

Let me preface things here by observing that human beings are hardwired to be interested in sex. This fact is not lost on advertisers, which is why you have skimpily-clad young women straddling motorcyles and the like.

This being so, you have a valuable tool (but one to be used with discretion) as a writer; if you write about sex, the majority of readers will pay attention. (Some will avoid scenes involving sex altogether, of course, out of personal feelings. If you're writing for such an audience, you probably aren't including a lot of sex.)

1. CHARACTER - THE KEY TO GOOD SEX

The point here is that you need to know who your characters are, and how they may (or may not) respond to the situation in which they find themselves. I _have_ met writers who feel an obligation (and a heavy one they find it) to insert sex scenes here and there, in order to satisfy what they see as the demands of genre or editor.

I have one friend who wrote historical romances for years, without actually liking the genre very much. She said the historical research made it bearable to write the stories, but she simply couldn't force herself to write (what she referred to as) "fnck scenes" after a few books. She'd put off the dire necessity as long as possible, procrastinating and moaning to her next-door neighbor (who _did_ like historical romances) about how horrible this was. Finally the neighbor offered to write the "f-scenes" _for_ her, an offer she hesitantly accepted, figuring it was the only way she was going to be able to finish the book.

In this situation, everything worked out happily; the neighbor (who was also a writer, though unpublished) had fun writing the sexual encounters, my friend then smoothed the style so that the inserted scenes fit with the rest of the book, and a good time was had by all--including, we trust, the eventual readers.

But the point here is only _you_ can prevent forest--no, wait. Only you can decide--on behalf of the characters--whether they really want to have sex here or not. They may _not_. And if not, you're going to have a terrible time trying to force them to do it. Personally, I advise against it. Just listen to them; they'll tell you whether they want to, don't want to, think they want to, but would like to just make out for a little first...

Beyond deciding _whether_, the characters also decide _how_. Or they should. Sexual encounters _can_ be impersonal, but unless that's the deliberate effect you're striving for (and you might be, under some circumstances), you should treat a sexual encounter between your characters as an emotional transaction.

This doesn't necessarily mean pages and pages describing the characters' feelings. Bear in mind that dialogue is the single best and most economical tool you have in hand for describing character; it's also one of the best means of describing the emotional transaction taking place between them in a sexual context. Good characters talk in bed. [g]

2. THE LANGUAGE OF SEX IS EMOTION -

Ergo, in a good sex scene, you're dealing with the emotions of the characters, and not so much with the mechanics of what they're doing.

Note, also, that _because_ people are naturally interested in sex, any emotional transaction that takes place in a sexual atmosphere will have a heightened impact. NB: All sex scenes are not necessarily of the "I want him/her--let's do it" variety. They don't _have_ to involve mutual affection--or even physical attraction (though that's often there, even if not expressed). Anger, hate, and coldness can be expressed in the context of sex, just as well as the more positive emotions--and the sexual context will heighten these, as well.

(Note that a sex scene can be used for any of the usual purposes as a regular scene--exposition of plot, development of character, etc.)

Returning to the notion that we're dealing principally with emotion, rather than mechanics. This means you don't need to spend pages and pages following the blazing trail of sensation as his fingertips gently explore the slopes of....well, I mean, you don't. But neither does this mean that you don't need to say _anything_ about what's happening physically.

By and large, you can "anchor" a sex scene for the reader by providing small cues regarding the physical action, and allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the rest for themselves.

EXAMPLE 1: Sexex1

Note in this example, a) how we shift the atmosphere to a tone of sexual suggestion via the cat, b) how character is revealed through dialogue, and c) how the scene deals with the physical details of the encounter.

3. CHANGE OF FOCUS

I have two bamboo hangings on the wall behind my desk: one from Japan, one from China. The Japanese one is a view of Mount Fuji, with a wooded shore in the foreground, a pagoda peeking out of the trees, small, white-sailed ships scudding across the water. Everything is soft, impressionistic, rendered in broad strokes.

The Chinese one is a close-up of a flowering branch with birds. It's done in exquisite detail; you can see the shading of individual petals, the iridescent feathers on the birds' necks. Hundreds of tiny, precise brushstrokes.

They're both good pictures, and both with a strong Oriental influence (naturally). The major difference is the _focus_ of each picture--long-shot vs. close-up.

Effective fiction (by and large) _varies the focus_. You don't want to tell a whole story from an emotional distance; likewise, showing things in close-up becomes claustrophobic fast. Ergo--and this goes for _any_ kind of scene, not just sex scenes--you want to vary the focus. If you start out in close-up--with a woman feeling her lover's breath on her earlobes, say--you may then want to take a step back, and she hears the chime of church bells in the distance, reminding her that she's committing a fearful sin--but then his mouth moves lower...and we're back in close-up.

When you're writing about sex, you're exploring the geography of intimacy, and you do this using the same techniques you use to maintain pacing and interest in any other narrative.

(See later, distillation/metaphor vs. literalism/detail - both valid, but different impact. Actually, I never did get around to talking about this, but this is where it is in the notes. [g])

EXAMPLE 2: I can't attach this, for copyright reasons, but it was pages 286-292 in INCUBUS DREAMS, by Laurell K. Hamilton. What you should be noting here is a) the use of brief bits of dialogue to define character, b) the change in focus, between the (very explicit) descriptions of touching/action and the protagonist's thoughts (including, even, a small chunk of backstory about one vampire's eyes), and c) that while this is a sex scene between what are essentially strangers, and strangers who have _no_ emotional involvement with each other, it's by no means impersonal.

4. NON-SEX SEX SCENES

Again, a sex scene is not just the traditional four legs in a bed. It's possible to have an entire narrative suffused with sexual feeling (example: THE SHADOW OF THE WIND), but which has relatively little in the way of direct sexual contact (that book has precisely two scenes involving actual sex, each one about two paragraphs long).

It's also possible to write a scene that deals explicitly with sex--and infuses the text with sexual feeling--but that isn't a traditional sex scene at all.

EXAMPLE 3: (this is a short one, so I'll just include the text, rather than doing an attachment)

From RED ANT'S HEAD

Copyright 2008 Diana GAbaldon

[Here we have a man sitting in a meeting, watching the female police officer who's conducting the briefing.]

I like jewelry on women.

People figure that historically men gave jewelry to women because a) they could afford it, so everybody would know how rich they were, and b) it made the women happy, so the men got sex, and that made them happy. I'm not saying this isn't true, but the fact is that jewelry on a woman is a real turn-on, no matter how the lady feels about it personally.

It's about ownership, is what it is. It's captivity. Put a chain around a woman's neck, put rings on her fingers, and she's yours.

She wears it on her bare skin, where everyone can see. On places you'd kiss, like the hollow of her throat, the lobes of her ears, the insides of her wrists. Where her pulse beats. It's metal and gems, a hard wet gleam where she's soft and tender. You're hard and she's soft, oh yeah.

Delicate chains and heavy links. Both good. Those tiny gold and silver chains, like spiderwebs against the skin; they could be broken with a touch, but they're worn willingly. Heavy links and bands of gold play up the fragile bones and slender throats--you can imagine them helpless, chained to the wall...or to a bed.

Spiderwebs and slave collars. Power and possession.

When you decorate a woman with jewelry you aren't just showing off, you're staking a claim. Throwing a net of gold and silver over her. You touch her skin when you put it on her, close the catch of a necklace on the back of her neck, on the soft bare skin under her hair, where you might bite her...later.

Older women know this. And that's why young women are always told not to accept jewelry from a guy unless they're serious about him; because a guy who wants to put chains on a lady is for sure serious, at least about what he wants to do with her.

She wore a wedding ring and gold-and-onyx studs in her ears. A tiny gold cross on a spiderweb chain at her throat. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

**********************

OK, see how that works? There's no interaction at all in this scene; the characters aren't touching, talking--or even, directly, aware of each other. It's not a "sex scene" in the classic sense of the word at all--and yet it certainly a) gives the reader a sexual feeling, and b) tells you quite a bit about the way this particular character feels for the woman he's looking at, as well as c) something about his overall attitudes.

5. ATMOSPHERE - evocation, sensuality

Without being explicit at all, it's possible to give a story a _feeling_ of sensuality. This is done principally--and paradoxically--by practicing restraint.

You don't lard on adjectives, or even verbs. You pick precise details and use beautiful imagery--which is a lot of work, but worth it.

I didn't actually talk about _this_, either, because it's a whole subject unto itself (and I did cover this in a seminar on Sensual (as opposed to sexual) writing. I'll put that one up later).

Examples: Anything by D.H. Lawrence, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), Anais Nin, THE WIDE SARGASSO SEA (Jean Rhys), JITTERBUG PERFUME (Tom Robbins).

6. THE INVISIBLE SEX SCENE - When, Why, and How to Shut the Door

Genre or market constraints

Personal comfort level

Variety

Build-up/tension/anticipation - can come not only from refraining from complete sex onscreen.

Change the dynamic between two people, but without the explicitness of an intervening sex scene; this is where what' important to the story (or to you as the author) is not that the characters had sex--but what their relationship is now like as a result.

Consider whether you want to use sex in your story, and how important it may be. If you're dealing with characters who have an ongoing relationship that inovlves sex--whether consummated or not--that feeling will probably suffuse their story, even if you have no direct "sex scenes" as such.

7. THE PARADOX OF CLEAN SMUT VS. NOVELISTIC LICENSE

We must make a distinction between erotica and sex in the service of a larger story. One such--really paradoxical--distinction is that in today's market, publishers of so-called erotica tend to be very (you should pardon the expression) "firm" about the kinds of situations you can and can't use. I.e., all sexual encounters must be clearly consensual, including those that involve bondage or violence. You can do anything in "straight" fiction.

On the whole, erotica has less _context_ than fiction does. Sex scenes in fiction don't take place in a vacuum, whereas erotica often does.

EXAMPLE 4: Sexex2. This doesn't necessarily belong here, but I can't recall where I _did_ read it, so this will do. [I'll post the actual example later; it's 5 AM, and I have to go to bed.]

The thing to note about this excerpt is that it's definitely not a sex scene involving positive emotion or mutual attraction. The point of this scene is a) the advancement of plot, and b) further revelation of character. Also note the physical details, which are brief, but..er..evocative.

8. MIND GAMES, or WHAT WOULD YOUR MOTHER SAY?

It's very daunting to consider writing about sex with the shades of people you know looking over your shoulder. So tell yourself--and mean it--that no one is going to see it. Nobody _needs_ to see it.

It's just you and the paper. Remind yourself that nobody _can_ see it but you. You can write anything you please, and throw it away, or hide it in a drawer.

Once you _have_ written it, it becomes easier to perceive it as something separate from yourself. But you do need to let any piece of writing separate, before you're truly capable of judging its merit. With this in mind, you figure nobody's going to see this scene you're writing--unless it turns out to be Really Good. And you don't need to decide _that_ until later.

Then go thoroughly into the point of view of one character; see what they see, feel what they feel, and write down such details as make an impression. (NB: I _have_ seen sex scenes written effectively using the POV's of both characters, with emotions and thoughts floating back and forth. I don't do it myself, but only because it doesn't feel natural to me. It needs to feel very smooth and undistracting, if it's going to work.)

And remember--this is an art, not a science. There are techniques and patterns, but any sex scene--just like any real-life encounter--is going to be unique.

9. VOCABULARY

How your characters talk about what they're doing is going to be specific to them, and to the situation. Fairly blunt language can be effective on occasion--but depending on the time, place, etc., you may choose more lyrical or euphemistic language. [I actually ended the worksho p by declaiming "Ode to a Penis," a comic poem written by a friend of mine. That's her copyrighted material, though, so I can't print it here.]

49 comments:

  1. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

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  2. Now Your Talk'n!
    This is soooo much more interesting then Homonyms. You have my -full- attention now. Sexual tension without touching can be just as intense as the physical. When it is well written it's not always necessary to get graphic(I like a little graphic too, actually alot of graphic). Phew! I got the jammies a flapp'n now. Looking into eyes, close but not quiet touching, or just being very aware of where that person is in a room.
    Like I said before D.G. did a masterful job with Jamie and Claire in all stages of their life. Can't wait to read the comments on this post.

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  3. Those pesky homonym's have got me again. Quit, Quite, Quiet.

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  4. Dear Diana,

    Wow, I can't wait to read Red Ant's Head. Interesting take on women and jewelry .... Any publication dates set for this novel?

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  5. Dear Diana,
    Your books are the only ones, I've readen until now, which includes also the emotions in sex-scenes, or have "non-sex sex scenes". Very interesting to see, how such a scene is built up [g]

    And very interesting thoughts about jewellery! Did _your_ grandmother tell you this?
    Sarah

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  6. Dear Jewell,
    You can find also on Diana's Website excerpts for "Red Ant's Head"--there you also find the informations about it.
    Sarah

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  7. Perfectly said! I have been struggling with writing in sexual scenes in my books. I'd write it, then delete it, over and over again. It just didn't seem to fit my characters. It's not like they weren't sexually active, but somehow detailing their actions lessened it for me. I can't really speak for them! They did make it to the bedroom, but behind closed doors. The innuendo made the experience and tension stronger, I thought.

    This is how I write sex scenes. ©MaryDuncan2008

    “Ye should wear yer hair up more often, Garnet,” Greame said in her ear. “It suits ye.” Nibbling her earlobe, making her squeak.
    “I thought ye wanted to sail?” she said coyly, knowing full well what he really wanted.
    “We’ve ne’er made love on my ship, ye ken.”
    Cat looked into his spruce-colored eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled. “Ye’re a bad influence on me a ghràidh. I may hae to take ye up on that offer, aye?”
    “Kel—” he started to shout, but Cat quickly covered his mouth with her hand.
    “Not now! “ she giggled. “Christ, Greame, what will they all think?”
    He would not be deterred by her hand, and began pressing kisses to her palm and doing interesting things with his tongue between her fingers.
    “Kelvin!” she shouted, a bit breathlessly.

    You know what they're going to do, so I leave it to the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. Many times, it's better sex that way!

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  8. Dear Mary,
    I'm sorry, but I can't see why you delete your sex-scenes. [g]

    Sarah

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  9. Jewel
    I like Dians's take on jewerly too. I- wondered - why I was attracted to Mr T (just kidding on that one).
    Also I dearly want to read RED ANT'S HEAD, but before she gets it written I'll be in a nursing home wondering who the hell Diana Gabadlon is and what has Mr. T got to do with it.

    Mary
    I liked it. Show some confidence! I'm sure you wouldn't plop that scene down in the middle of a car chase. There is a reason why there is a word called foreplay.

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  10. Diana:

    My original response to today's post will actually now serve as a post in my own blog. Thank you.

    "Writing About Sex Without Blushing" affords me the courage and strength to undertake the process myself. Silly as this sounds, I have always been concerned about what my mother would say if I were to write about sex. You'd think after having 11 kids she'd let it roll off her like water on a duck, but she's still very private about it. And she still *shares* her opinions, freely, about what's appropriate and what's not. When I was around 43 years old, I offered her the book THE OUTSIDER by Penelope Williamson. I thought it was not only a great story, but it handled the sex scenes really well. Based on her reaction, I never broached the subject again.

    Your statements today further the argument as to why your books are not Romances. There are a few good Romances out there, such as The OUTSIDER, but most use sex as an end in itself, not as a vehicle towards something greater. Your characters have sex as part of their lives, not as the driving force behind each motivation or action.

    May I be so bold as to suggest that your written sex scenes reflect your private take on sex as a whole? Or have you removed YOU from them completely? Does a writer write about sex based his or her personal experiences? Imagination? Fantasies? A combination thereof?

    Midge

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  11. Dear Sarah and Saraf,

    I didn't remove that entry I wrote from my book. I just wanted to see if I went far enough with it to peak the imagination. Full blown (God, the words I'm choosing here are quite appropriate, don't you think!) graphic details is what I tend to shy away from. Thanks for the approvals!

    Mary

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  12. Dear Midge--

    Well, like I said, a good sex-scene--like any other good scene--depends on the characters involved.

    Consider the sexual encounter between Brianna and Stephen Bonnet in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, for instance.
    From _her_ point of view, it's terrifying and degrading; it's rape.

    From _his_ point of view, it was simply a commercial sexual exchange; he wanted to have sex with her and did, but he _paid_ for the privilege, for heaven's sake.

    Consider the sexual encounter between Jamie and Jack Randall; that's also rape, but a completely different scene, a different dynamic altogether. Jack's desire isn't purely physical; he deliberately sets out to possess (and destroy) Jamie's soul. (Observe that Jamie wants precisely the same thing--though for a completely different reason--from Claire.)

    Claire herself observes the difference, during that very fraught conversation in ABOSA after Jamie rescues her from the abductors. Jack wanted _Jamie_; the men who attacked her mostly didn't care _who_ she was--they saw her purely as a convenient object. (With the exception of Harley Boble, who saw her as a stand-in for the man who'd humiliated him, and is determined to get revenge.)

    OK, this isn't what you meant when you asked about my personal views coloring the sex scenes [g]--you meant the tender/erotic/ passionate stuff between lovers.

    But these are indeed sex scenes, and just as full of emotion, character, and signficance as any other.

    I am occasionally accused of being obsessed by rape. I don't know as that's true--though I certainly find it interesting, from a literary perspective. The PC party line these days is "rape isn't about sex, it's about power," "rape is about men's rage against women," etc., etc. Yeah, OK. It may be. But the thing is--any sexual encounter necessarily _has_ to be about sex, as well as whatever else it's about.

    And that consideration works both ways. It's pretty rare for a sexual encounter to be solely about sex, in real life. Passion, domination, power issues (one friend of mine noted early on the Jamie and Claire use sex to settle power issues, and while I hadn't consciously thought of that, I suppose it's true), healing, humor, rage,...sex is "about" communication.

    A sex scene is ideally just a specialized dialogue scene. It's about the exchange of emotion, not body fluids.

    But that being the case...no, the sex scenes are no more reflections of my private life than any of the other scenes I write are. They all spring from the roots of character, and while you try to write them as honestly as possible, they have as many fictional purposes as any other scene might have.

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  13. Dear Mary,

    Well, I wanted to say with that, that I like your scene--because you said you've thrown some scenes away--and if _all_ your scenes were like this one, there's no reason to delete [s]Though, I can't delete anything I've written.

    Oh, beautiful book-cover!

    Sarah

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  14. Mary--

    Speaking of homonyms [cough]...I do believe you mean "_pique_ the imagination. [d&r}

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  15. Dear Jewell--

    Well, RED ANT will be out sometime after I finish writing it. [g] I probably have about half the book, but it's not at the top of my work pile, because I _have_ to finish AN ECHO IN THE BONE, the graphic novel, and two or three short pieces this year. Next year, RED ANT and SCOTTISH PRISONER will probably be at the top of the pile.

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  16. Wonderful, DG! I think the intimacy of the conversation can be just as sensual as the descriptions of the act itself.

    I write the scene from both POVs and then take what I think works best, what reads and 'feels' right. Sometimes they are intricate, sometimes they're not. It all depends on what the final edit reveals.

    I have a way of...well, never mind.

    Loved the excerpt from Red Ant's Head! Still waiting for that to be published!

    PS, has anyone else noticed, the more one posts, the longer the word verification gets? :P

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  17. Dear Diana,

    That Jamie wants to posses Claire (of course in a good way) comes so through so clear (and I loved that scene [g]) when he says in OUTLANDER:
    "I want to own you, posses you, body and soul."

    Sarah

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  18. Oh, and sorry, Oh Wise One (that's you, DG! ;-) ) We posted at the same time, but I'm still looking forward to RAH. At least now I know there's light at the end of the tunnel :D

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  19. Diana:

    Thank you, not only for furthering your comments about the writing of sex-as-communication in your response to mine, but being patient with my questions. I suffer from a definite case of whimsy.

    Just because you've used rape in your books doesn't make you obsessed with it -- I believe there would be a shadow to all your writing if that were the case. There are too many instances of redemption that argue otherwise. Yes, the sex you write is communication, is just part of the characters' lives, whether that be *good* or *bad* sex.

    For me, your sex scenes are not gratuitous. Yes, they are empowering, but not always to the benefit of your characters -- and that's what makes them sooooo good! You would be reduced to Romance if the sex only benefited Jamie, Claire, Bree, Rog, and the others. But the sex empowered Jack Randall, King Louis, that 'sumbitch Geillie -- God! she is good to hate! (that was cathartic!!!)

    Oh, Diana! I pray the Good Lord keeps you healthy, mentally fit, and sharp-witted for years to come.

    Midge

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  20. Re "Jamie and Claire use sex to settle power issues": I think that's true, but what's interesting about it to me is that most of the time, they end up essentially at a standstill, with neither one able truly to dominate the other. Jamie could overpower her, physically, almost without trying (as he proved in OUTLANDER in the infamous wife-beating scene [g]). In their sexual relationship, however, they are more or less equals; Jamie "can't possess her soul without losing his own", and both of them know it; this gives Claire a certain amount of power over him, to counterbalance his superior physical strength.

    Karen

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  21. Diana,

    I certainly meant "piqued", but peaked seemed a more appropriate spelling, given the subject matter! Ha!

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  22. I never realized until I read the Outlander novels you could possess someone's soul with sex. I knew I could possess his checkbook..his property..his kids. I'm going to have take another look at this man of mine. I deserve his soul after 38 years. I know what he will say, "Hey Babe!" You signed the contract, you get what you get.

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  23. Dear Sharaf,
    LOL! But as you're married for 38, it seems like your glad with the contract. [g]
    Sarah

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  24. THANK YOU DG! For this post, and so many others. We all know you are busy (understatement I'm sure)and it's so generous of you to share here.

    While writing, my friend just kept harping about a damn sex scene.

    My response was:

    "It's not time yet!"

    I'm glad to hear that sticking to my guns about only having a sex scene when it works for the characters or plot is a GOOD thing.

    BTW, I did have a sex scene, but ONLY when it was right for the characters...they decided when and where. :)

    Terri

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  25. Sarah:
    You are right. I'd sign the contract again in a New York minute. He's the only one for me now and forever. He's my Jamie.

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  26. Dear Sharaf,
    I'm glad for you, that you found your own Jamie.[s]

    Sarah

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  27. Is anyone else having trouble seeing the attached example? I can't seem to access it. Could someone explain how please?

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  28. Ooh...I like that you mention allowing the reader to fill in the gaps with regard to the details. That is something I have often commented to my book buddy that I enjoy about your writing style. You don't knock me down with all the 1, 2, 3, details in a scene. A sight, a sound, a sensation of feeling, and a smell, and then it sets off my imagination. And this doesn't just apply to the sex scenes in the story.
    I've often read books in which the auhor thinks that he or she needs to describe everything in visual detail down to the floorboards, and it withers my interest. Your use of the senses...vivid and brief decriptions...does more to pull me into the scene than the standard (or so it seems to be standard) descriptive narration.

    But back to the sex...and the changing focus. I will say that when I first read Outlander, and the scene in which Jamie is making the effort to, ahem, bring Claire to proper submission, I did raise an eyebrow a little at the change in focus. I was reading it thinking, "You've got Jamie doing _that_ to you, and you're actually able to pay attention other things...like the smell of the beeswax candle and the feel of the linen sheets???" Ha...bloody ha. (vbg)

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  29. Tess:
    I read your comment on staying "focused". That's what I liked about Diana's writing, it is totally believable. Sometimes it's not easy staying focused, especially if you have children and you have your ear trained to the door. Life interfers at the most inopportune momemts. Maybe it wasn't a lack of focus, maybe Jamie was just heightening all her other senses too.

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  30. Dear Shilo--

    I don't know how to--or if I _can_--attach files to a post. So the examples mentioned aren't actually "attached," but I'll post them separately--with luck, a little later tonight.

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  31. I attended a workshop when you read the the piece from 'Red Ant's Head', about the jewelry. It sent chills up my spine and although I love jewelry it gave me a whole new perspective to receiving and wearing it!

    I also heard the "ode to the penis", does your friend have it published anywhere? I can remember bits and pieces of it, and remember having to cross my legs I was laughing so hard.

    There was another author at the same conference, who was co-writing a book. Both authors had to argue with their editor. The editor was insisting on a sex scene and the writers were saying that the action in the book took place in a very short space of time. In this case three days. How much pressure is there to include "the art of sex" in a manuscript?

    You are a master of writing amorous scenes where there is enough detail, but allowing the reader to use their own imagination to "fill in the blanks". But then you knew that already, didn't you? (cough!)

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  32. A friend sent me this today. A study of muscles in motion, should have been back with the "research for a model for friend Jame's backside" but didn't know if you would go back that far... so for research sake...have a look.

    strengthinpoland_.wmv

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  33. Dear Vicki,
    I don't know if it works for the others, but at my laptop it shows only the name of the file--not attachment.

    Sarah

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  34. In order to post links or images, you have to use the HTML code.

    This page will show you how to post a link:

    Blogspot For Dummies

    So, if I post a link it will look like this:

    PhantomGerry.net


    I think though that I have the old Blogger so I cannot seem to post images... *sigh*

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  35. Ms. Gabaldon, (I'm still not entirely sure it's proper to refer to you as Diana since we have never met or had any correspondence, so please forgive me if that seems overly stiff.)

    I'm thankful you've written such a detailed and thought out explanation on the subject.
    I've found myself trying to explain to people so many times how in your novels and many others the levels of sexual contact and their place in the story can vary so dramatically depending on the views of the characters themselves.
    I also applaud you on making such a precise and honest distinction between sex in fiction and 'erotica.' It's not something that many authors can differentiate these days and it can really make or break a book.
    So thank you again for your refreshing candour and you application of it to your writing.

    That said, I have a few questions I'd like to ask that have nothing to do with this post, but I can't find the answers anywhere in Through the stones.

    My wife is re-reading the books and noticed that, in the audio-book and her copy of Outlander Claire seems to know that Jamie's 'surname' is Mactavish without being told and what age he is without being told.
    She's scoured her copies and can't find any scene where it's discussed.
    I loaned all of my copies to my sister and she lost them, but I can distinctly remember conversations where these pieces of information were passed on.

    My question: Was this some issue with the earlier prints? Are my wife's copies just defective?

    I'd be very grateful if you could clear it up for us.


    P.S.

    I just finished lord John and the haunted soldier today and I absolutely loved it. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  36. My apologies about the non active url. If you go to U Tube and put "strength in poland" the site does come up. It is two men a la Cirque de Solae. The muscle control is amazing. Sorry I wasn't able to post a direct link.

    Diana, I think it is amazing that you are able to speak French with a German accent! I have a smattering of Canadian French which makes people in France laugh. Canadian French has not "grown" and is considered quite "archaic". Somewhat akin to speaking the latin you were taught in school to someone in Italy.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Dear Vicki,
    No problem![s] I just wondered if my computer is acting strange. Thanks for the title, I'm going to watch it.

    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hey Diana,

    Feel free to post my Ode To A Penis if you still have it.

    It's not like that piece is going to be published anywhere soon. It has a very limited market. (g)

    Pam

    ReplyDelete
  39. Dear Pam--

    Well, I know I printed it off, because I evidently read it at the workshop in question. Somebody must have lifted it off the table while I was answering questions later, though, because it wasn't in the folder with the rest of the workshop notes, nor can I find it on my computer.

    If you have it, though, I'd love to see it again! [g]

    ReplyDelete
  40. Diana,

    I shall do a "penis" search and see what turns up. (g)

    Pam

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm actually enjoying the 'penis' conversation here! lol! Kind of hoping it keeps going.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Wow, I can't believe how generous you are : you have so much work to do and have events to cover, and you still took the time to explain all this to perfect strangers!

    Thank you very much for all this, I hope I'll improve with all these advice, I've never had the opportunity to receive some of this kind, on how to write (well, smthg else than geography essays or docs'comments in high school^-^; )... And I get this from my favorite author, hehe! ^^
    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
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