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Plaidcladmad

Writing as an Ace and general existential dread

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Plaidcladmad

I've been focusing much more on my writing lately and have really noticed how much I avoid talking about sex. I am a freakin adult, albeit still in college, but I don't write about sex. It's not that I explicitly avoid it (well kind of...) but more that it just never comes up. Sexual and romantic relationships are never logical plot points when I write. I don't put my characters in romantic or sexual relationships. I understand that sex is often used in a myriad of ways: to emphasize the relationship between two characters, to create drama, betrayal, intrigue, love, interest, desire, I could go on and on but it just never comes up. When I read I avoid books with strong sexual themes and when I respect the plot of a book I might read it despite the sex.

As a writer you are supposed to wear every hat. You should be able to write identities different from your own. I have written as different genders, ages,nationalities, occupations, but I can't write about sex. I just can't. And it's making me have a lot of questions bout being taken seriously in the writing community. If my writing ever leaves my notebook (not saying it's going to happen, this is all hypothetical) what will I be as a writer? If I write fiction then I am the woman too afraid or too prudish to talk about sex. If I write non fiction or, god willing, actually publish in my field, I will probably be criticized for neglecting sex in my theses, for ignoring something so fundamental for most people.  A lot of my research deals with women in maritime communities, agency and gender, and resistance to social systems. How can I talk about that without discussing sex? Will I destroy my career by constantly missing key points, by neglecting sexual and romantic relationships in favor of talking about badass ladies and their ships? On some level I am thankful I am ace. I often catch myself thinking that if there is some divine plan, I have been given the freedom to pursue my passions without the distractions of romance and sex. On the other hand I probably spend more time curled in a ball wondering if I'll die alone (sometimes I'm ok with this, other times I'm not) than actually being productive so jury's still out on that one...

anyway if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with it. If anyone has advice or any commiseration I'd be happy to hear it. 

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Amathy

It all depends on what you're writing.  Deciding if/what romantic/sexual scenes are needed in your fiction book is what an editor is for.  I'd say don't worry about it until you are actually at the point of having your writing leave your notebook. It is something you can add in later. If you desire to write romantic/sexual scenes, study the wording of those scenes in the books you respect in the same genre.  Also, sometimes alluding to a relationship is sufficient.

 

I find that romantic/sexual relationships are frequent in my fiction writing, though I avoid going into detail.  These relationships are vital to develop the character motivation (and the next generation of characters). However, I had to study and rewrite many times to make these scenes sound realistic enough.

 

As for how this relates to your research, I admit I'm a bit confused.  You mention avoiding sexual/romantic relationships when you write.  That to me is very different than discussions about sex, particularly the type that would appear in non-fiction.  As you have brought up the need to discuss sexual relations in your writing clearly indicates that you see it as a logical plot point in your nonfiction writing.  Research sexual/romantic relationships of your subjects and discuss it in briefly an appropriate nonfiction manner.  You don't have to understand romantic/sexual relationships to write about it in nonfiction, you are simply documenting/examining an existing reality in a factual manner.

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drjohnhwatson

You don't have to write about sex, though.  I'm a writer as well, and it's a topic that comes up sometimes, but I usually just fade out to black or don't use explicit details.  It's more weird in my opinion to have sex thrown in randomly without it being adherent to the plot than it is for it not to show up at all.  Honestly, a lot of stories can stand very well on their own without sex, or just merely alluding to sex.

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Laplace

I’d gladly read a book with no romantic or sexual content; if there’s an engaging story and character development without the mushy stuff, then sex isn’t necessary. I guess my interests may be different than a non-ace person, but I think if everything is good enough, people will flat out forget about the exclusion of sex/romance. While it’s a game and not a physical piece of literature, Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions has one of my favorite stories and, IIRC, it has no sex (the only thing remotely related is learning the heritage of certain characters; e.g. the MC and his sister are bastard children) and has only one major plot relevant romantic relationship and it belongs to two characters who aren’t in your party. It doesn’t even become physical. War and clashing political ambitions is the impetus for the plot and most character development. The MC doesn’t have any love interests, and that doesn’t detract from the story at all. So it’s certainly possible to write an great tale that has little to no romance or sordid twists.

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Zash

In fiction, at least, you can use the excuse of keeping it all ages for avoiding writing about sex.  Also, I find, leaving it up to the readers imagination is often more effective than explicitly writing it out too.  So, if you have a sexual character who is going to have sex with someone, you don't need to give details.  You can just leave it at A and B go off together, and aren't seen until morning.  Let the audience draw their own conclusion, and don't tell them they were actually playing chess together until dawn.

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Mermaidy

my favorite literature from what I can think of have no sex, romance, etc.  good lit and lit without sex aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, although it depends on the audience who you're writing for

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fuzzipueo

There are a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels out there where sex and romance take a back seat, if they show up at all. There are mysteries and regular fiction that don't go into detail about those things either. I think you'll do just fine.

 

For the record, I find I avoid writing about those two issues too, when I do write a story. They just aren't part of my internal landscape, so when they do show up, it's a bit like having a alien ship land from out of nowhere ...

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CrazyDiamond

It very much depends on what story you intend to tell. A lot of stories don't need any explicit sex scenes to work so if yours don't then don't sweat it. Of all the books I've read only one really gained from the Explicit descriptions of sex (and a lot more besides that...) and that was American Psycho so that says it all really ;P

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anlin

I wouldn't mind reading fiction without sex!

 

But when it comes to research it might be more tricky. Maybe it would be possible for you to discuss sex in these circumstances in a more formal way? I think it would be good for you to at least mention it. I'm not sure how the structure of your writing is, so now I'll think about how I have done writing papers and thesises for my studies. Maybe it will be possible to already in the begeinnig state that you know/previous research has shown that sex has been a part of the everyday life of these women, but since it is not immediately important for your own research, you won't discuss it in detail, because your focus is on something else. This way you will show readers/possible critics that you are aware of this factor (sex) but you can also justify leaving it out.

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