Guest Blog : Kate Lowell
We are delighted to welcome Kate Lowell to LYLBTB as part of her Blog Tour celebrating her new book “Bite Me Tender”, take it away Kate ….
The How and the Ow of the Boom-Chicka-Bow-Wow
When I was chatting with Barb about this post and throwing around ideas, the question, “What would you like to see?” popped out.
Barb immediately responded, “Sex! Write about sex!”
And I laughed and laughed and wondered which of us was off our meds. Because I was nodding my head and agreeing and wondering how on earth I would write something interesting on a topic that has been covered so very, very often.
But then I thought, “Why not?” It’s an important part of what I do. A great deal of my writing concerns itself with guys trying to get into bed with each other, being in bed with each other, or recovering from being in bed with each other.
I have a love/hate relationship with sex scenes in books. I love them because of their strength, when done right. I love the glimpses of deep-hidden parts of our characters that can only be shown when they drop their guard during the act of love. I love how the exact same act can represent love, fear, hope, forgiveness, despair, and reassurance. There’s very little else that can be so nuanced in our work.
I hate them because they’re so frickin’ difficult to get right. I know, sounds ridiculous, right? But, by and large, they are the hardest part of a story to get down on paper and not sound like an idiot in the process. Because there are so many ways you can do it wrong.
The three main culprits in this seem to be a lack of emotion, a lack of general biology and a faulty sense of proportion.
As a writer, you can’t physically touch the reader to elicit a certain reaction. (Oh, there’s an image…I can think of a few MM heroes I wouldn’t mind…ahem, sorry.) So, all the usual sexual organs are off limits, except one – the brain. How do we affect the brain? Through the use of language; specifically, language that evokes emotions commonly associated with sex. Words of passion, lust, anger, desire – they all draw us into the experience of the character. If a sex scene is not much more than a list of who did what to who and a few grunted utterances, it’s missing its target.
That’s because we’re not reading for the action, we’re reading for the emotion. Explicit sex should more rightly be termed explicit emotion during sex. And this is what makes sex scenes so hard to write–you truly have to be inside your character’s head for it.
Perhaps it’s just my take on it, but there’s only so many ways two bodies can come together. To me, the big question is: what makes it different, special, memorable? What emotion colors the action? Why did he do that? What was he thinking? What does he notice about the other man? How does the other man make him feel?
I’ll tell you a secret – Levi’s not really leading-man hot. But boy, you wouldn’t know it when you’re in Glyn’s point-of-vew. I’ve had people argue with me about what Levi and Glyn look like, because they’re seeing them through the eyes of someone who is deeply in love. I used to try to explain, but now I just nod and smile. After all, if they’re seeing that person the way the lover does, I’m thinking–maybe I did my job more right than I realized.
A solid understanding of male biology is also a good thing to establish, to avoid embarrassment. Forget the refractory period after an orgasm just once, and they’ll never let you live it down. Or have your virgin engage in repeated bouts of enthusiastic sex in too short a period of time, without considering the ‘ow’ factor of repeated stretching and abrasion of untrained muscle and tissue? Fifty lashes with a wet jock strap. We won’t even talk about what happens if you decide to forgo the lube – – your bottom’s bottom won’t be the only one paying for that.
Yes, there’s a certain amount of ‘stretching’ (ahem) that we all do in the name of the story. But every time a writer strays from the cold, hard facts of life, they run the risk of someone not letting them get away with it. And coming from a speculative fiction background, we often say that the most interesting thing about a character is not his abilities, but his limitations. I find the same goes for sex. How are you going to work around the physical limitations of your characters, or, more importantly, how will they work around them?
The last tripping point I often see is forgetting about proportionality. If a bear and a twink want to get their groove on, I’m all for it – – I love to see my characters happy. :-D But after they’ve both had a rather splendid orgasm (courtesy of yours truly, in a rather second-hand way), I like the bear to have his bit of fun and then not collapse on his twink. While I’m sure there are people who truly enjoy the weight of their lover upon them after sex, I suspect I can speak for all the ‘tiny people who have an unfortunate addiction to partners twice their size’–breathing is good. Especially after a truly mind-blowing orgasm. But it doesn’t happen if Godzilla is having his post-coital nap on your chest.
Also, lining up Tabs and Slots is sometimes problematic. My solution? Watch porn. What, you say? Watch as much as you want, say I. It’s a legitimate business expense. (Bet you never thought of that as a side-benefit of being a writer.) But watching a wide variety of porn will give you an instinctive understanding of ‘if his cock is here, then his head and his shoulders will be here on another man the same size’. Or you can look for videos where there’s a size difference. Check to see what a guy can reach while in a certain position, so you know whether you need to explain that he’s actually Plasticman in disguise.
It’s a sacrifice, but I will gladly throw myself on that grenade for the sake of my readers.
That’s my take on the technicalities of sex in MM Romance. It doesn’t mean I’m right, or even that I do it well (though I hope I do). There are probably things I missed, or things I mucked up. Certainly, other people will have own opinions or some piece of esoteric knowledge that I’ve somehow avoided while chasing cabana boys and drinking bacon wine, but that’s okay. We’re all here to have fun and if, at the end of the day, you’ve enjoyed my stories, I count that as a win.
Check out Kate’s new book “Bite Me Tender”
Levi is a werewolf. His boyfriend, and the love of his life, is a witch. After living together for three years, they decided to commit to each other and change Glyn into a werewolf. Levi hoped the pack would accept Glyn more readily as a wolf. Glyn hoped it would eliminate his erratic magic and erase the OCD it caused. One year later, they’re still trying…
Levi can’t understand why his bite won’t change Glyn and he’s running out of time to figure it out. His pack is being threatened by a larger one, he’s facing dissension in the ranks of his own ruling council and Glyn’s grandmother is poking her witchy nose into their relationship.
Under threat of a violent takeover, the council pushes another potential wolf at Levi, infuriating Glyn and adding weight to Levi’s own doubts. Council machinations divide the two lovers, leaving both men questioning their lives, their love, and what they’re willing to endure for each other.
Full moon is a time of power and change. It could be a disaster, or it could be the key to happily ever after. If they’re strong enough to wrestle their future from its bloody claws.
Purchase at : Loose Id
Thanks so much for such a fun post Kate, hope the new release is a massive success!! To everyone reading this – be sure to comment – one lucky poster will win a copy of the e-book! Good luck !!
Entries close on August 15th 2013. (Normal T’s & C’s apply)