Tag Archives: sex

Friday Night Lights: what I learnt about writing a sex scene from watching football

I just finished watching all five seasons of this little show called Friday Night Lights. It took me one week. It’s probably just because I’m still all mixed up in the joy of it, but right now it’s my favourite damn tv show ever.

I’ll probably have a bit to say about it, if you’ll bear with me.

But today I just wanted to focus on a specific thing: The Football. I know nothing about American football. I’m not a hugely sporty person. But the matches in this show are one hundred percent riveting.

I realised why, half way through season three (I know, it took me a while). Our beloved quarterback, Matt, who was never meant to be a superstar but has grown beyond what he thought he could be since the limelight was forced onto him, is being edged out by a much younger kid with a killer arm. The team he’s given everything to, the coach who means everything to him, are under pressure to replace him.

It doesn’t help that the new kid’s dad makes you want to hit him every time he opens his mouth.

So they’re playing an important game, and alternating between quarterbacks. Then the new kid starts winning the game, and he gets Matt’s plays. It is devastating, nail-biting stuff. I was leaping up and down willing Matt over the touchdown line.

It’s obvious, but it took that game for me to really get it: the personal drama of the characters develops throughout the game. For the best dramatic effect – and maybe it’s no coincidence that game brought it home to me – something intensely personal is at stake, and depends entirely on the outcome of the game. But no matter how obvious or subtle, life-changing or thematic the stake is, every player goes in there to win or lose something.

Jenny Crusie says a sex scene is like an argument; someone wins, and someone loses. I’ve always loved that approach, and we all know that unless the sex moves the story forward, you have no business putting it in your book.

The football matches of Friday Night Lights have given me much clearer ideas about how this is done. There should be big, personal stakes. Each player should go in with a clear idea of what they intend to achieve, knowing they are going to battle with someone who has a contradictory set of objectives. It should take something, to win.

the closet Masochist

I had an enlightening conversation with a friend today.

I was, once again, ranting about what didn’t work about Vishous‘s book for me. I explained to her his Domination/Submissive sexuality, and how it worked when he was verbally controlling, but not when he let her strap him to the table and drip wax over him and whip him.

This was an emotional climax (apparently), as he never, ever allows himself to be submissive to anyone. I know it worked for some readers. Didn’t for me.

This was when the conversation got interesting. My friend said:

“A sadist has impulses that can’t be expressed, because they’re violent and illegal and they would hurt people. So they create these ‘games’ which allow them to safely enact what they will never be able to act out.

“But fiction is already make-believe, so to just have the fantasy and not the act itself seems like a waste of time.”


We went on to talk about whether it’s possible to have real sadistic acts in a romance context. She made the point that most sexuality in books is closet-masochistic, because most people have masochistic tendencies, to whatever degree.

A sex scene where no means yes, or where boundaries are getting challenged and stretched and comfort zones intruded on all have elements of (mostly) masochism already.

She also made the point that sadists are only ever brought in as a means to subjugate the masochist. “How can I put this?” she said. “If the masochist is getting off on it, then it’s not giving the sadist what they need.”

I don’t quite know what to take from this conversation, except that it was enlightening, and just adds another layer to what I think romance novels are able to explore.


years ago a friend made a throwaway comment to me, that she thought having an orgasm was one of the loneliest moments in life.

The book I just read made me think about this some more, because a very tender moment at the end seemed to say the same thing from the other side. I’m not going to infer anything right now – here it is:

He moved inside her, and their passion built, but neither looked away. They kept their eyes locked, unwilling to give in to the primal instinct that craved privacy at this moment of deepest vulnerability.

He didn’t drop his head to the crook of her neck, but kept it above her, staring down. She didn’t turn her cheek into the pillow but gazed upward.

The boldness of allowing another person, even one so deeply loved, to have such an open conduit into the other’s soul intensified every moment.

From Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

vampire, vampire…demon?

I got a bit excessive yesterday, even for me, and read 1.5 books…

Which brings me to the end of book 6 of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark – the series that has, as you know, swallowed me whole.

I think one of the reasons those last two books caught me in such a non-stop way was that the heroes were demons. For people who read paranormals regularly, demons are probably a bit old hat. For me they were a revelation, and a real head-scratcher.

Vampires, even for someone who doesn’t read much paranormal, are very familiar. (According to special k, the first vampire was Cain.) They drink blood, an act which normally brings a kind of pleasure to the biteee (when it doesn’t kill them) etc.

I just had no idea how she was going to fetishise demons.

It turns out that they have horns which are incredibly sensitive (i.e. you wouldn’t touch a demon’s horns in public unless you wanted to be particularly crude) and lengthen with rage/passion. When they claim their mate they go “fully demonic”, which includes their skin going red (which acts as a kind of stimulant) and their eyes going fully black. They grow top and bottom fangs which they use to, uh, bite their female in a particular muscle that stuns her. In other words, she goes completely still while they have their way with her.

Oh, don’t worry though, she can’t help her pleasure while it’s happening, either.

Can you see why it made me scratch my head? Not because of how bestial and random it is, but because it does actually work as a fetish – it comes off as erotic.

Will maybe think a bit more about why when it disturbs me less to do so.