Sunday, May 13, 2018

Quickies: Sex In Fiction

     The questions abound: “Is it good? Is it bad? Should it be cool? Should it be hot? Should it be express or implied? What about homosex and other deviances? Say, what about Larry Niven’s risathra? And there’s this gal Christie Sims who writes about...” Oh, never mind.

     Regular Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch will already know that I’m a practicing Catholic. You’ll probably also know that the Catholic Church frowns rather severely on any and every sort of sex except normal vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman married to one another.

     Time was the Church went even further than that. Time was, you were supposed to avoid enjoying it too much. I shan’t go into the details. You can work them out for yourselves.

     The Christian storyteller will collide with this sort of restriction early and often. I know a number of other Christian fictioneers who can’t cope with it at all. They frequently contort their narratives and the natures of their characters to avoid any sort of clinch. It’s not good for their stuff.

     And it’s entirely unnecessary.

     The Commandment says Thou shalt not commit adultery. Adultery is the violation of the marital compact, nothing else. That’s the Authority we’ve been given. Human clerics don’t have authority beyond that. They never have had it, their claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Remember that they’ve tried to forbid many other things that neither Christ nor God the Father ever pronounced on. There’s even a joke: “Q: Why do the Puritans forbid sex standing up? A: Because it might lead to dancing.” But sex, the greatest gift God chose to embed in human nature, has always drawn clerics’ particular envy and hatred, for more reasons than it would be appropriate to enumerate here.

     Sex belongs in a story where sex must appear for reasons of narrative continuity and characterological consistency. It can be handled tastefully -- “Sometimes the most erotic thing you can write is a line space.” (Renni Browne and Dave King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers) -- but whether it’s implicit or explicit, if the story and the natures of its principal characters demand it, it must be there.

     If you present yourself to the world as a storyteller, you have an obligation to serve the story and its characters properly, in all its necessities. If you feel you can’t write a sex scene where the story demands one, then you shouldn’t be writing that story. Perhaps another story would be better suited to your limitations; find it and tell it. Otherwise, put your BLEEP!ing nose to the BLEEP!ing grindstone and write what your BLEEP!ing story and its BLEEP!ing characters require. Vulgarities and all.

     Just one storyteller’s opinion. Take it for what it’s worth, which might be nothing. But if you’ve read any of my crap, you know I sincerely mean what I’ve written above.

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