One of the more difficult things I’ve had to do this week is create sexual tension between two monsters. Not real monsters, mind you, although that comes with it’s own set of problems. These are monsters in the story I am writing.
The issue isn’t with the monsters themselves. Yes, they have gray skin, dull black eyes, ice-pick teeth and sharp claws. The male monster, Cid, is a sarcastic sonofabitch with a short fuse. He desperately wants to “blow off some steam” with the female monster, Nel, but she isn’t having any of it. However, she still flirts with him, bats her dark lashes and leads him on, right before she slams the door in his face. She’s kind of a cruel bitch, but that’s why I like her. Cid deserves it, anyway.
Even if Cid and Nel were human, that scene still would have been hard for me to write. Why? Because to do it well takes subtlety. Finesse. I want to convey intent with a look, tension with a slide of a hand along a door frame, desire with a tilt of a chin. I am all about the “show don’t tell” aspect of writing. To come right out and say what’s on Cid’s mind would plunge the narrative into the arena of “heaving bosom” pulp romance. That is definitely not the style I’m going for.
Ask me to kill a character and I can gleefully spew out a few hundred words of blood-soaked prose describing every detail of the poor schmuck’s demise and, if I’m lucky, I can even make you giggle a little while reading it. Call me sick, but I like writing that kind of stuff. It comes easy. (“Easy” is a subjective term, by the way. All writing for me is a mind-grinding, gut-wrenching experience that often involves tears and rending of clothing.)
But ask me to write about two people flirting with one another and I draw a blank. Flatline. Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer not a sexologist! (that’s a thing, right?) I’ll fumble about in my brain, groping around in the dark, fingers pawing the air hoping to eventually caress the words I know are cowering in there somewhere. It’s like the worst, most awkward round of “Seven Minutes In Heaven” ever.
Why this happens should be obvious. I am terrible at flirting.
I am not a subtle person. I’m big and loud and when I talk I use flailing hand gestures that quite often send glassware flying. Without thinking, I’ll blurt out terribly offensive things in mixed company. My laugh can be heard from three rooms away. And, the thing is, if anyone of the opposite gender happened to find this behavior in the least bit charming, I would be the last one to notice. Because as bad as I am at flirting, I am even worse at detecting if I’m being flirted with.
I didn’t really think about all this too much, until I read the following quote by author, Neil Gaiman:
In my experience, writers tend to be really good at the inside of their own heads and imaginary people, and a lot less good at the stuff going on outside, which means that quite often if you flirt with us we will completely fail to notice, leaving everybody involved slightly uncomfortable and more than slightly unlaid.
So I would suggest that any attempted seduction of a writer would probably go a great deal easier for all parties if you sent them a cheerful note saying “YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night. Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in.”
And alcohol may help, too. Or kissing. Many writers figure out that they’re being seduced or flirted with if someone is actually kissing them.
In my case, this is so unbelievably true. If it weren’t for a blind date set up by my sister, I may never have gotten married. But while this sheds light on my behavior, it does nothing to solve my creative block when it comes to writing sexy scenes. If only I could just hand my characters a “seduction note” and have that be the end of it.
And, if anyone is actually reading this, bless you. I have been a terrible blog-friend these past few weeks. As you can see, I’ve had my hands full with some amorous monsters. I promise I will soon try to carve out some time to read all the wonderful things I know you are posting on your own blogs.