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Better without the sex?  [message #75046] Sun, 28 October 2018 15:52 Go to next message
American_Alex   United States

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Perhaps it's my age, but I've been noticing more stories which, after reading them, I really think they'd be better without the sex. Sometimes the sex seems a bit wierd or maybe even depraved, other times the sex is dull, bland, and really adds nothing to the story. I've also noticed that often a writer with a certain amount of talent seems to use the sex scenes as sort of a purge of his own psyche, creating unusual situations to fit his own pecadilloes or fantasies. Some more unrealistic scenes seem to be because of an author's limited experince with gay sex, others with unrealistic expectations of average physical capabilities (these mostly exist on Nifty....).

I guess it's a good thing that the story is more important than the sex most of the time, but sometimes I wish people would have somebody else read their story first. Maybe tell would them to not spend so much time on scenes that go on too long, yet aren't really interesting, or are maybe too wierd, too depraved, etc. There is a certain writer over at Nifty of whom I've spoken before; his intro always look promising, until about paragraph #4 or 5, when he introduces his diaper fetish, and the story goes off the rails. I now know that he posts in Comic Sans script, so when I see that, I know not to even bother starting...  



"Able was I ere I saw Elba"
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75050 is a reply to message #75046] Sun, 28 October 2018 17:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Luckily he has started to mention his diaper fetish up front! I get as far as "Great title, yes, yes, oh no."

I find sex is important in some tales and unimportant in others. I like it when it suits the tale, otherwise, no.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75054 is a reply to message #75050] Sun, 28 October 2018 20:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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I'm a bit in the middle myself on the subject.  On one hand, I do like rading about the main characters having a good romp.  But at the same time, I've seen what many authors on Nifty have done with that - suddenly, instead of having a good story where two or more of the characters just happen to Get It On on occasion, the entire story is just what I call a gay version of the concept of "Wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am," where the only thing that happens is that the characters Do It and then go on their merry ways while ignoring the fact that they just had a very intimate and personal experience with each other (though in a bit of fairness, I've done that myself, so I know from first-hand experience as to just how easy it can be to fall into that trap; I am trying to be a bit more mindful of this and am trying to write stories where I'm not going overboard on the sex scenes).

Also, those who follow my comments here know that I've mentioned before that a couple of my favorite stories on the site have very little in the way of actual descriptions of sex; sure there is gay sex going on, but we get very little in the way of specific details.
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75061 is a reply to message #75054] Mon, 29 October 2018 12:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I think it is also clear that authors grow past the sex. Make no mistake, sex is wonderful when written well, but we learn that it is possible to write stories without actual descriptions of the sex, or with no sex at all. Or, with full on, rampant, chandelier swionging sex!

How do you feel, Mark and others, about contributing a segment to the Masterclass on the writing of and inclusion of sex scenes?



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75064 is a reply to message #75046] Tue, 30 October 2018 08:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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I think, and talking to other authors seems to confirm this, that most new writers put too much sex in too much detail into their first book. It is something that is felt to be a pre-requisite for a gay story on a gay site. One might label it the Nifty Syndrome, even if the author never published on that site, it's the one sex scene per chapter to keep the readers hooked. Later, everybody probably comes to realise this isn't a requirement, I toned down - a lot - my first book, but kept the unabridged version as a sort of permanent reminder.

I'd like to know what are the expectations of readers, if any. Would you be disappointed to read a book that had no sex scenes? Would you be disappointed to read a book that had virtually or completely nothing gay? They do exist on gay story sites and can be very popular, almost best sellers.

Personally, I come to a gay story site to read stories that have a gay theme to them, but are not so exaggerated as to be unreal, unless I'm reading Sci-fi or fantasy. I am a little disappointed if I pick up a book and find it has nothing gay in it, no sub-story, no gay characters. I do not mind sex or no sex. I do find that sometimes there is rather too much sex, as the saying goes, "too much of a good thing can spoil it..." lol!

I wonder what other readers and authors think?

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75065 is a reply to message #75064] Tue, 30 October 2018 09:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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No sex scenes? That depends on the story. Is sex important to the story?

How graphic the sex should be depends on the way the plot runs, but gratuitously or exaggeratedly graphic is ridiculous, just like in old school heterosexual porn movies with the man with the improbable moustache coming to fix the refrigerator.

Nothing gay at all? There has to be a very good reason for it to be present in a gay literature collection. What is that reason?

By 'Gay' I include Bi and Trans when on this site. Our site does not cater for L.

[Updated on: Tue, 30 October 2018 09:22]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75088 is a reply to message #75061] Sun, 04 November 2018 07:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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"timmy wrote on Mon, 29 October 2018 06:45"

How do you feel, Mark and others, about contributing a segment to the Masterclass on the writing of and inclusion of sex scenes?

--

I've thought about it, but at the same time, a part of me doesn't feel that I'd be qualified to give such advice, since at times it feels like I'm still trying to figure it all out myself.

Just how much sex (if any) is appropriate is something that, as Timmy pointed out in his last comments, seems to depend on the story.

Yes, there are certainly many stories out there, very well-written, and aimed at the LGBT community that have no sex in them, and sometimes don't even have stuff like holding hands or kissing in them (some of them are even on this site).  There are also stories, also very well-written, that have at least some reference to sex, either a little or a lot (and again, some of them are on this site).

Then there are others that suffer from, as William put it, "Nifty Syndrome" - the story is sex and nothing but sex, and any plot that might be found in it only serves to get the character(s) from one shagging to the next.

I know that from an author's viewpoint, much of my early stuff did very much fall in the latter category.  Eventually, when I started writing "An Apprentice's Adventures" (back before I met Timmy and learned about the IOMFATS website), I made a concious decision to tone down the sex.  I had read a few stories on Nifty that were actually good and that fell in the former category (there was sex, but it wasn't the focal point of those stories, and in fact they could have been just as good if any and all references to sex and romance had been completely removed), and I wanted to write at least one story that was the same (and I must have succeeded, at least a little bit, since Timmy approached me about having it published here).
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75090 is a reply to message #75088] Sun, 04 November 2018 08:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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You know, rephrased as a part of a guide, that is something that would fit well as a segment on the writing of sex or the 'not writing' of sex. Please do think about it Smile

Who is qualified to write this guide?



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75092 is a reply to message #75088] Sun, 04 November 2018 12:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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The problems with very detailed descriptions of sexual activity is that what turns the author on may not turn the reader on. There is a fine line between 'And then they retired to bed ...' and 'With one thrust ..'. The best authors ride that line.
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75093 is a reply to message #75092] Sun, 04 November 2018 14:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Mark   United States

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"The Composer wrote on Sun, 04 November 2018 05:58"
The problems with very detailed descriptions of sexual activity is that what turns the author on may not turn the reader on.

--

Which is another good point, about the writing of any subject, not just sex.  In a way, it might be called the "Goldilocks Syndrome" - an amount that's "just right" for one person might not be "just right" for another (whether it's an author and their story and a reader reading it or two readers reading a third person's story), who views the exact same story (or section of a story) as "too much" or "too little."
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75094 is a reply to message #75046] Sun, 04 November 2018 16:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Dominick St James is currently offline  Dominick St James   United Kingdom

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Are stories in this genre better, without sex?

To look into that, I think we must first of all identify and acknowledge the premise under which we write and read these stories, here and elsewhere. It is very much a niche genre. 
What is the general ambit of this niche genre? It's about the lives teenage boys, often young ones. And I think, irrespective of how gay, or not gay, we see their characters as we read and write about them, if they don't live, breath, and eat sex, from time to time, then they're not teenage boys from this planet.

The boys we read and write about are fictitious creations but we want them to have real life personas, and so I'm personally against the virtuous, aloof, sex at arms length, approach. It smacks of guilt and a conscience pressured by society. In any case, for myself I think the real issue is, not how much or how little sex there are is, but how the sexual aspect is portrayed and described on the page... word choice, the phrase strings, the vocabulary used to give the visual image. But the less the scene is actually worded, the better, particularly with verbs, and punctuation can get in the way, too. That's not to say it should cut grammatical corners, though, because that's a turn off, too. It's a particular skill and art to get right that can be very elusive.

Like others have said, in this thread and similar ones, there is a lot of trashy rubbish out there on Nifty, I agree. Good English is an absolute must for writing erotic scenes. Good English grammar, vocabulary and punctuation have to be comprehensive and spot on, if you want it to lift off the page. I personally don't mind being regularly titillated, if it's well done, makes me smile and laugh, (because sex is supposed to be a joy), and it glues me to the story, page after page. I want the boy under my nose, and in my ear, so to speak.

That does'nt mean there has to be sex on every page, or paragraph, either, nor even penetration in every sex scene, but it has to be happening under the reader's nose, off the page, and before his eyes, else what's the point of it. I've looked at lots of Nifty stories over the years, frequently discarding them after their opening lines, and can count two, or perhaps three that I've really enjoyed. Ironically, two of the best erotic stories I've ever read, are or were, out there in hard copy: Edmund Marlowe's 'Alexander's Choice' and Angus Stewart's 'Sandal'.

[Updated on: Sun, 04 November 2018 16:37]

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75095 is a reply to message #75094] Sun, 04 November 2018 16:55 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I would very much like someone, Mark, Dominick, The Composer, someone (please) to edit this thread into a set of attributable statements that I can add to the Writing Masterclass.

I see the importance of multiple viewpoints, of differing advice.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75097 is a reply to message #75095] Sun, 04 November 2018 19:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Dominick St James is currently offline  Dominick St James   United Kingdom

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In that case, this would be my suggestion, or along these lines:

American Alex:

He's of the opinion that often the sex content in stories is weird, unrealistic, boring and sometimes depraved. He sees some authors wasting their talents by purging their hangups, and rendering weird and off the wall situations. He wishes inexperienced writers, especially the sexually naïve and those with fetishes to get second opinions and 'get real'.

Timmy:

He says that sex is important but the scenes should be contextual. Timmy also thinks we can move on, past swinging sex and stay cool about it. He posits how graphic it should be and that it should be plot contextual, but if it is'nt sexy, there has to be a reason for that as well.

Mark:

He's cool on the subject. He likes the sex to be inclusive, but not coarse, daft or off the wall. Sex is an intimate thing and should'nt be portrayed as "Wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am," where the characters fuck and then move on. He's done it, but that's another story, and now cool sophisticated sex is his big thing. But he's also in limbo about it, though he abhors the 'Nifty Syndrome' also, (See below). Mark also highlights the 'Goldilocks Syndrome', agreeing with 'The Composer', that one size cannot fit all and what's just right for one, is'nt vice versa. He also adds that sexless LGBT stories can be cool. Mark is generally cool to passive about sex content.

William King:

He highlights the 'Nifty Syndrome', where authors feel obliged to include heaps of sex, mostly as a dangling carrot for readers. He got cool about sex in his writing, but still keeps a secret stash as a reminder of before and after. He also posits what readers expectations are, yay or nay for sex. He's also cool generally, too. He wants some gay sex if it's a gay story, but agrees that's there's often too much of it, unless it's sci-fi where anything goes.

The Composer:

He wants the sex cool and sophisticated too, but not necessarily graphically stated. He says that 'What gets the author off does'nt necessarily get the reader off', especially when there are too many details.

Dominick St James:

Dominick's a free radical. Everything's cool with sex scenes, and he also trashes Nifty. He wants sex in stories to be truly sexy and erotic, though. He does'nt want it treated like a guilty secret, and if it leaves him cold, he's out. To that end, he wants it laid out in sophisticated high English grammar and he's even finicky about commas. He says the trick of effective sex writing is 'least input, for a max impact'. He then says that truly erotic stories do not necessarily equate to having sex laid out on every page.

[Updated on: Sun, 04 November 2018 19:21]

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75100 is a reply to message #75097] Sun, 04 November 2018 23:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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I'm going to leave it a day or two to see if others add to that



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75101 is a reply to message #75100] Mon, 05 November 2018 02:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Bisexual_Guy is currently offline  Bisexual_Guy   United States

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As a reader, I started out looking for lots of sex in stories when I first had personal access to the Internet (as opposed to having to use the computer of someone else).  I started out with a site that almost makes Nifty look puritanical, then people recommended Nifty and IOMfAtS.  It took a while to warm up to IOMfAtS until I was reached a "sexual saturation" on many of the Nifty stories with oversexed content.  Then on here, I discovered writers such as Paul Jamison and Cole Parker and Billy (also known as Billy Bratii and Billy Martin on some sites), Merkin (also known as James Merkin), Ronyx, It's Only Me Across the Sea, Andrew Foote, Nigel Gordon, Benjamin Conner (also known as Benjamin J. Conner, and Ricky, who stand out in my memories of discovery on this website.  More recently I've found on IOMfAtS Geron Kees (a true talent and treasure, who writes many types of stories), Nicholas Hall, Hamster, and some others.  A few have more sex than I normally like, but fits in the context of the story, and I will not mention names.

On Nifty I found the late Ryan Bartlett, Andrew Todd, Godia Forit (whose spelling and paragraphing is terrible, but some of his stories are interesting), Doug Smith, David Lee, Bill W, and some others.  (Ryan, Andrew, David, and Bill were recommended by a friend who had MUCH more time to read than I did.)

Summary: Some writers do better sex scenes than others.  I like the way Geron Kees has sexual tension and teasing, but many of his tales have little ACTUAL sex.  It is briefly referenced as happening, without graphic detail.  And sometimes I may be in a "more sexual" mood than others, and seek stories or authors with more sex in the story.

Timmy, you do a good job of balancing various authors here.
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75103 is a reply to message #75094] Mon, 05 November 2018 12:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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"Angus Stewart's 'Sandal'."

I read it when it firdst came out, and in retrospect, I'm surprised it got published. It's a bit incoherent, and you can see very clearly that it's the work of a novice. It could have benefitted froma good deal more editing.

Also: 'Lord Dismiss Us'. A quote from a hymn that was usually sung at then end of every term.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Dismiss-Us-Michael-Campbell/dp /1939140943

Dismisssive Sandals  [message #75104 is a reply to message #75103] Mon, 05 November 2018 13:34 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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"The Composer wrote on Mon, 05 November 2018 12:49"
"Angus Stewart's 'Sandal'."

I read it when it firdst came out, and in retrospect, I'm surprised it got published. It's a bit incoherent, and you can see very clearly that it's the work of a novice. It could have benefitted froma good deal more editing.

Also: 'Lord Dismiss Us'. A quote from a hymn that was usually sung at then end of every term.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Dismiss-Us-Michael-Campbell/dp /1939140943




--
Lord Dismiss Us was glorious to read in 1968/9 when it came out and I found it in the library. It was a triumph. There were people like me!  I bought a copy about 15 years ago and found it was a load of turgid puffed out prose in need of an editor. Bought for £1, I gave it a gloriously positive review on Amazon and sold it again for £10.

[Updated on: Mon, 05 November 2018 13:34]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Dismisssive Sandals  [message #75105 is a reply to message #75104] Mon, 05 November 2018 15:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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" a load of turgid puffed out prose in need of an editor"

Ah, well  - we will agree to differ ...
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75106 is a reply to message #75103] Mon, 05 November 2018 17:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Dominick St James is currently offline  Dominick St James   United Kingdom

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"The Composer wrote on Mon, 05 November 2018 12:49"
"Angus Stewart's 'Sandal'."

I read it when it firdst came out, and in retrospect, I'm surprised it got published. It's a bit incoherent, and you can see very clearly that it's the work of a novice. It could have benefitted froma good deal more editing.


Yes, agreed, it is a bit fluffy, but I put that down to Stewart's obfuscation and disembling of its risqué subject matter. 







--

[Updated on: Mon, 05 November 2018 17:32]

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75107 is a reply to message #75106] Mon, 05 November 2018 17:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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Not so much fluffy as disjointed.

His father was a very well known author as J.I.M. Stewart and Michael Innes.
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75108 is a reply to message #75107] Mon, 05 November 2018 18:30 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jolyon Lewes   United Kingdom

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I have to say that I enjoyed Lord Dismiss Us but I enjoyed Sandel even more. (And it's not spelt like a piece of footwear!)

One of the most compelling books I have is The Folding Star by Alan Hollinghurst (1994). The blurb begins: 'Edward Manners - thirty-three, disaffected, in search of a new life - has come to an ancient Flemish city to teach English. Almost at once he falls in love with one of his pupils, the seventeen-year-old Luc Altidore, recently expelled from school for some mysterious offence.'

The story so hooked me (Luc wears shorts of the sort the boys in my stories wear) that I took myself off to Bruges to explore the locations described in the novel. I don't need graphic sex in stories as I'm entirely happy with mere adolescent fumblings. The Folding Star is my favourite of Hollinghurst's novels.



Jolyon
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75110 is a reply to message #75108] Mon, 05 November 2018 19:28 Go to previous messageGo to next message
The Composer is currently offline  The Composer   United Kingdom

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Curve of Beauty was made into an excellent BBC programme; can't say I cared for the book as much.
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75112 is a reply to message #75110] Mon, 05 November 2018 19:45 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jolyon Lewes   United Kingdom

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Actually it's called The Line of Beauty - the word 'line' referring to the drug-taking that goes on. The story involved people I found thoroughly unattractive and although I stuck with it to the end I cannot say I enjoyed it and so donated my book to a charity. I have enjoyed other winners of the Mann Booker Prize more than this one. 



Jolyon
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75117 is a reply to message #75046] Tue, 06 November 2018 09:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
William King is currently offline  William King   France

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I read The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, a Book I enjoyed, and one which has (from memory) a single described erotic scene with our hero and the chef in the deserted kitchen. It is a sort of format for the balance of sex in writing, that is a good story with most sexual activity intimated and a single descriptive erotic scene. I thought that worked well.

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75120 is a reply to message #75117] Tue, 06 November 2018 11:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jolyon Lewes   United Kingdom

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The Swimming Pool Library was the first of Hollinghurst's books that I read and I enjoyed it so much that I snapped up The Folding Star as soon as it was published. In the first book most of the action takes place in or near London and the narrative is richly  endowed with the aristocratic hero's gay observations, (he eyes up 'two scrumptious schoolboys' on the Tube) but as William says, graphic sex is, thankfully, pretty thin on the ground. The depiction of gay life in 1980s London contrasts vividly with the oppressed atmosphere in the city a generation earlier, as portrayed so well in the film Victim (1961).



Jolyon
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75121 is a reply to message #75117] Tue, 06 November 2018 11:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Dominick St James is currently offline  Dominick St James   United Kingdom

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Yes I've also read it, the scene you quoted triggered my memory. But bent over a kitchen table, with only cooking oil to hand? And it was very liberally applied, too. I find that more slapstick pantomime, than erotic. Erotic's got to be sensual and taken time over, you know.
Re: Dismisssive Sandals  [message #75123 is a reply to message #75105] Tue, 06 November 2018 11:57 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Edit LDU down and it is a good book, but it is too much about the headmaster's silly rules.  I have found an earlier thread.

I think it was very much of its time, which is why it resonated with me when I read it as a boy of that time.

[Updated on: Tue, 06 November 2018 11:57]




Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75153 is a reply to message #75046] Wed, 14 November 2018 01:14 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sean E is currently offline  Sean E   United States

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Not sure how late to the game I may be, but reading all of this got me to thinking, and I agree with basically one merit: sex for just sex, is useless - but if it "fits", if it's a part of the story, if it has reasoning or can be enveloped with the characters nbaturally... then yeah, I think it's okay. Most of my work has been focussed around coming-of-gae, high school-level characters, and in that genre there is a lot more freewill spirit, I think, than say characters in college, etc. Why? I guess I always envisioned, or felt, that the characters were on the cusp of discovery, of opening their eyes into a new world. When I write about it, I try to imagine the wonder they would feel - just like I felt in my early days. At least, if that makes sense...

So, okay, not perfect, but meh... it's my take on it, at least. Smile

Re: Better without the sex?  [message #75155 is a reply to message #75153] Wed, 14 November 2018 14:33 Go to previous message
timmy   United Kingdom

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Thanks Sean.  I've added that to the guide.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
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