Working Through the Sexual Stuff

Sometimes answers to writing problems come from indirect sources. As detailed yesterday, I’m having a problem with my manuscript. And I’ve been thinking about how to solve it. Obsessively. To the point that I ran it by Al, and I never run my writing quandries by Al.

And then the universe sent me, just when I needed them most, a pair of articles by Stephanie Zacharek about my favorite television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’d link ya, but since the articles are Salon Premium, I can’t. Instead I’ll liberally quote Stephanie from the paper Modern and Mythical Sexuality in Buffy the Vampire Slayer she presented at a Buffy conference.

Stephanie writes that Joss Whedon deftly handles “The subtleties of sexual desire, including some of the darkest, most deeply recessed fears and longings of the soul.” I wanna do that, too!!

She goes on to say that Whedon “isn’t particularly explicit about sex” but “deals with issues of erotic intimacy in an unvarnished and deeply emotional way.” Exactly the way I want to go with my characters.

She then gives me a sort of road map: “Buffy makes the first move.” Check. Got my girl doing that already. “There is no such thing as the weaker sex, both are prey to their own desires.” Yes, that’s it, that’s what I want to convey. “We can’t tame or corral sexual desire as easily as we might think. Each libido has to find its own direction.” This is another one I had tried to express, but somehow I’ve got to do it better.

Beth pointed out that my scenes lack focus because I dilute them with sexual tension. Trisha then added that I didn’t have to throw out the sexual tension, I just had to let it bubble under the surface in the scenes where the primary goal of my character, which is not sexual, was the focus. Beth said I could take my time and not try to crunch everything into the first couple of scenes.

Between what they both said and the stuff from Stephanie Zacharek, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on what I was doing wrong and how to fix it.

Think I could write the Buffy DVDs off on my taxes?? I mean, watching them will actually be research…

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