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Wiscon: Realistic and Unrealistic Sex in Fiction
Last panel report for tonight, what was I thinking, I was going to SLEEP or read or do necessary work, arrgh.

Ahem.

Description:

What makes sex in fiction realistic or head-twistingly not? Do we want realistic sex? Is fanfic better at it?

M: Margaret McBride, Katie Clapham, Deanna Lepsch, Ashlynn Monroe, Kate Nepveu

I thought this went pretty well. I don't have much in the way of notes but it wasn't that long ago, so some impressions:

We talked about jarring language, stock phrases that aren't actually appealing at ALL when you think about what they convey read literally, words that convey a certain mood (though if people writing professionally, there may be issues of house style). There are also stock bits of choreography, for lack of a better way of putting it, standardized ways of describing particular acts that are so common that they're boring (and maybe not realistic in the sense that not all bodies work like that).

We talked a lot about advancing character, in terms of the language used for the point of view, the emotional effect of what's happening (nothing is sexier than desire; stories that do good jobs of conveying that can be compelling even if the mechanics of what's happening are themselves entirely without personal appeal), which also as one way around the problem of terminology, being less specific about body parts and more focused on what's happening inside the character's head, and though we didn't bring this up much, the relationship dynamics.

There was a split between people who liked sex scenes that were less polished, with accidental elbows in faces and whatnot, because it was funny and easier for them to relate to and modeled something approachable for younger people, and people who found that jarring.

I mentioned Courtney Milan as writing about enthusiastic consent and about things not going perfectly on the first time (booklog), and Jennifer Crusie's Charlie All Night as comparing a one-night-stand when the characters first met and then sex after they actually know each other. Also Freedom and Necessity as having a sex scene in an idiom consistent with the historical POV character's voice. A lot of people recommended Cecilia Tan specifically, and her publishing house Circlet Press specifically, for interesting erotica of an SFF variety.

We talked briefly about aliens, which seemed to be either alien/alien (adjust number as appropriate) which tended to be very biological and non-eroticized, or human/alien and otherwise. I gave the mini-rant about paranormal romance and other stories that involve humanoid magical creatures as stand-ins for existing minorities and how problematic eroticizing the Other can be--I don't expect people to control what their id wants, but people should own the problems associated with that (see tomorrow's panel on being a fan of problematic things!).

Uh. There was more but my vision's starting to go in and out of focus, also I feel awkward about writing down stuff here (hi, Chad's mom! Hi, random opposing attorneys who look me up on Google!). Feel free to comment, as always!

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