Making it up as I go along

I have never had any particular gift for fiction: I run out of gas somewhere around a thousand words, and if you believe the old yarn about there being only seven basic plots, you’d probably wonder if I’d ever seen the other six. Clearly I have no business trying to write a novel.

Stacy McCain also declines to participate, for the following reason:

One reason I’ve never tried to write a novel is because, sooner or later, you’ve got to have a sex scene. There’s this gnawing fear that (a) the scene would be interpreted as the writer’s own personal fantasy or a roman à clef and (b) the results might be ridiculous.

There is no shortage of examples of (c) all of the above, either.

Then again, maybe it’s just imagination I lack. Cintra Wilson has an article in the current Out about a couple of straight females writing gay romance novels. Yes, there are sex scenes. Says one of the authors in question:

I hope she wasn’t too disappointed to be sent to write an article about writers of gay porn for women and come across me instead. I hope she believed me when I said that that was not what I thought I was doing, and that one or two sex scenes in a book full of other stuff does not automatically make that book porn.

I suppose this is where I’m supposed to insist that “I am not a prude,” despite the fact that I tend to get a trifle antsy during sex scenes, even of the sort George Carlin once described as “good old-fashioned American man-on-top get-it-over-with-quick.” Besides, there are probably a hundred contemporary synonyms for “penis,” and 98 of them tend to make me giggle. (I blame Mike Judge.) I should definitely steer clear of those M/M stories.


  1. Andrea Harris »

    17 August 2010 · 12:42 pm

    “One reason I’ve never tried to write a novel is because, sooner or later, you’ve got to have a sex scene.”

    Um. No you don’t. Writers of previous eras to our current sex-obsessed one managed to write countless novels with nary an embrace between hero and heroine. And that’s if the novel in question featured couplings at all.

  2. smitty »

    17 August 2010 · 1:40 pm

    My thinking is that you have to include sexuality, as it’s part of the human condition.
    However, well-written characters can leave the grungy bits off-stage.
    Just hand the reader enough pieces and let them build their own sex scene to taste.

  3. ak4mc »

    17 August 2010 · 2:08 pm

    I think Paul Simon was onto something.

    If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
    Brought them all together for one night
    You know it would never match my sweet imagination

    Today’s novelists could learn from that.

  4. KingShamus »

    17 August 2010 · 2:24 pm

    Skull cinema is often far more interesting than if you just lay out every sordid detail for the reader right out on the page.

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