Let’s talk about sexy . . .
Not sex because sex in YA is about a one in every ten books kind of occurrence. Let’s face it, it often gets interrupted, cut short by teenage insecurities or the characters end up deciding to be abstinent, etc. etc.
One thing that makes YA so popular is the sexy.
And that’s why this article isn’t featuring a Edward Cullen. I don’t find him sexy.
Jace Wayland, Morgenstern, Heronsale, Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments?
He IS sexy.
And the thing is, there haven’t been any sex scenes in The Mortal Instruments books . . . yet. But the character is already sexy.
And there’s a few reasons why. Jace doesn’t try very hard, he knows he’s good looking, he doesn’t flaunt it, it’s just a fact. He’s also blunt, sarcastic, and snarky, but not to the point where he separates himself from everyone around him. Those who know him best will know him as caring, trustworthy, loyal and protective. His contrasting personality is what brings the sexy.
And the fact that Jace has the best kissing scenes ever. (so does Clary) Case in point, click the link.
And so the question for aspiring writers out there is: How Do I Be Sexy?
I have to say that while reading The Mortal Instruments series I kept thinking “damn this is good.” “damn this is better than what I could write.” “Damn my characters have to do something like that.” And so on and so forth. I also kept thinking “Epic Win.” because of all the YA novels I’ve read recently NONE of them come close to capturing sexy the way Cassandra Clare does.
(Maggie Stiefvater is a close second though.)
And so because I’m almost finished this WIP and because it’s a love story, I thought I’d explain how I’ve brought sexy into my fiction.
1) What’s sexy to me.
Gestures, smells, erroneous areas of the body, kissing (tongue, no tongue?) dialogue, positions (not sex positions, but making out positions, standing, sitting, lying down?) etc. etc.
2) What’s NOT sexy to me.
Looks, smells, gestures, kissing, facial features (no moustaches, no frilly pirate shirts), freezing cold skin, feverish skin, fangs, claws, flying, super strength, etc. etc.
3) What could potentially go wrong.
Braces locking, heads bumping, noses bumping, tripping, stumbling, falling, stuttering, shivering, etc. etc. (Myra McEntire uses a lot of these in her romance scenes, and they work really well.)
4) Who my characters are.
How they would do it, what they would say, what they would do, what would come natural to them, what wouldn’t, etc. etc.
I tried to envision every sexy scene between my characters before it happened so I knew where they’d be, what they’d say, how they’d move, and what they’d do. When I sat down to actually write the scenes, I already had my sexy inspiration sitting in front of me, I just had to be sure to do the following things:
1) Don’t make it weird and monotonous.
2) Don’t make it too short.
3) Make sure to stick to the character’s personalities, let their quirks shine.
4) Let the characters enjoy the moment as much as possible. (Because it’s a book and no doubt they’re going to have some tragedy to go through after this.)
And that’s ALMOST everything, but I need to add the last things that bring sexy back to fiction.
1) Characters thinking about doing things with other characters.
Ex. Elder in Across the Universe kept thinking about kissing Amy.
2) Characters noticing sexy intricate things about other characters.
Ex. Clary trying to sketch Jace while he slept.
3) Characters being the opposite of sexy around each other, building tension for the right time and place for the sexy to happen.
Ex. Grace watching Sam in the woods when he’s a wolf, for six years before she meets the boy he is.
4) Characters doing bad things in hopes for a chance at sexy with other characters.
Ex. Lena lying to her parents so she could catch Alex at the cove.
And if you’re still lost, try watching some of the following videos. I love how sex in movies isn’t porn, but it’s close enough. That’s sort of the idea in books too. It doesn’t have to be hard core porn, but it can walk a pretty damned fine line.
Arthur & Guinevere – Camelot
Blair Waldorf & Chuck Bass – Gossip Girl
Maggie & Jamie – Love & Other Drugs