Plot Derails #1

When I’m writing for nanowrimo, it’s incredibly easy for me to forget that I have a plot I want to write, and get caught up in the thrall of massive wordcount derailments.

Given that nanowrimo is all about the wordcount, this is a great thing at the time; the sooner you hit your goals, the more time you can spend goofing off. Unfortunately, I’m just prolific enough on my own that I need to learn how to avoid the derailments and stick to my plot instead.

My anxiety disorder plays into this. I worry about writing enough, so instead of moving the plot forward, I’ll get into overly verbose descriptions of things. I know I can do it, but I’ve never actually managed to write my entire nano plot during nano, even when I do my best to avoid the derailments! There are, without question, more than enough words in my plots. There are probably too many words, frankly, and so I need to ignore the voice of worry and keep on writing.

Anyway. The actual point of this post was to talk about one the ways I get off track. A big derailment for me is sex scenes.

Some people can’t write them at all. They have the main characters kiss and it fades to black. Kudos for them; they actually get their plot written! Those writers often complain about it, but I think they’re just being smug. Everyone has a thing they have difficulties writing; personally, I get bogged down when I have to dialogue; slowest stuff I write are those bits.

I, on the other hand, will wade into the sex scene, which will easily be a chapter on it’s own. As I mentioned ages ago, originally I had a bit of problem with them, since I often let my mother read my writing; eventually, though, you get to a point in your life where you’ve been embarrassed by all sorts of things, and having your mom read what’s basically a sex fantasy just makes you wince a little (and then you promise to never show her those bits again, but that’s really for her sake rather than yours.)


There’s also a host of ethical issues about sex scenes; I won’t delve into that, you can probably find them in most writer’s forums if you’re interested. Personally, if it’s a story I intend to share (which is really a new thing for me), I ask myself ‘is this something I’d be comfortable with a 17 year old reading? Does it have all the elements that are important (consent, mutual pleasure, sex safety, etc) if I end up accidentally educating a sex novice?’. Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but the reality is if I’m going to share my stories, then I have to create scenes that don’t contradict my personal ethics.

Within those parameters, I don’t have a problem with sex scenes, but during nano this means that if I write a 2000 word sex scene, then this is a chapter that I’ve wasted my precious writing time on that doesn’t do dick for the plot*. Instead of moving forward, and gotten closer to finishing the dammed novel, I’ve basically written in a circle. Grrr.


*Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


5 thoughts on “Plot Derails #1

  1. I once wasted 400 words describing rain(in my defence, it was summer rain, and it has a smell and an emotional significance and I’m weird).
    Re:sex scenes. I can’t write them. I’m good with setting up the thing, I can write about the state of being turned on(again, the scent thing creeps in significantly), but then I do the kiss and fondle and start another chapter.
    P. S. My dad has read almost everything I’ve ever written, including the novel which had rape, castration and murder in first 3 chapters(boy, was I an…interesting 16 year old). Awkwardness abounds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually really like the idea of 400 words about rain. It’s not really *that* many words, after all…

      I used to not do the sex scenes, because I didn’t want the imaginary people reading it to judge me, lol. However, a combo of getting a tad older (and far less easily embarrassed), with running across too many creeps* has led me to want to make sure the sex scene goes the way I want it to go!

      *Seanan MacGuire has actually been asked when will her MCs will be raped.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have a thing for rain, especially summer rain. I think it’s in every novel(or half done novel) I’ve written.
        My stuff is usually read by my dad and like 5-ish close friends, so it’s not concern of reaction or anything, I just cannot do it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I once let a girlfriend read a sex scene. It was a disaster! “Okay, so who is this? We never did this before.” Gaaaaa.
    But I think having a mom/dad or imagined mom/dad read the sex scenes is not such a bad idea…well, if the work is YA. It would force you to be–more subtle? I don’t know, just a thought. I think too, readers (esp. male ones) have different reactions to women writers-rather than men writers-and sex scenes. We live in strange times.

    Liked by 2 people

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