On August 7, 2021, Kasie and Rex continued the Seven Deadly Sins series with Lust. Here are the show notes:
Theme for the day(s)
The Seven Deadly Sins – Lust
- Summer project update
- SCWA Upcoming events and goings-on
- The 7 Deadly Sins recap
- Lust as a character trait, motivation, and antagonizing force
This summer we’re working on serialization projects. You can review the show where we covered the benefits and opportunities of serialization here. My work is on Wattpad and it’s called The Full Moon in Neverland. It’s eleven full chapters, 43 parts, and clocks in at 5 hours and 29 minutes read (phew!) already and about one chapter from the climax. I think it’ll end up being between 14 and 16 chapters. So a lot of work and I’m giving it away. Yeesh.
Rex is working with Vella and has this epic cover for his vampire novel. I know, copycat (ha). So he’s going to go live after he gets six chapters loaded. Vella is a service of Amazon.
Let’s get to the fun stuff. Sin. From the Wikipedia page:
The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices, or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings, although they are not mentioned in the Bible. Behaviours or habits are classified under this category if they directly give rise to other immoralities. According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth, which are contrary to the seven heavenly virtues.
So the 7 Deadly Sins discussion started with “Pride” and then we did “Greed” which is not to be confused with gluttony which is a sin in and of itself. Then we did “Wrath” and last week “Envy” which brings us to “Lust.” Let’s get it on.
What is lust? According to Wikipedia:
Lust is a psychological force producing intense desire for an object, or circumstance while already having a significant other or amount of the desired object. Lust can take any form such as the lust for sexuality (see libido), money, or power. It can take such mundane forms as the lust for food (see gluttony) as distinct from the need for food. It is similar to but distinguished from passion, in that passion propels individuals to achieve benevolent goals whilst lust does not.
Why is lust a sin? According to Wikipedia:
Aquinas says the sin of lust is of “voluptuous emotions”, and makes the point that sexual pleasures, “unloosen the human spirit”, and set aside right reason (pg. 191). … However, sex simply for the sake of pleasure is lustful, and therefore a sin. A man who uses his body for lechery wrongs the Lord.
This review in Esquire has a list with excerpts of some of the sexiest novels of all time — in the literary fiction category, let’s be honest. These people aren’t sex writers.
This essay argues that romance novels offer men a better opportunity to connect with their partners, understand intimacy beyond sexuality, and get comfortable with non-toxic masculinity.
Lust as character motivation is handled by this link on TV tropes:
It’s not just sexual, “Conquest, honour, respect, and knowledge are also things that can be lusted after.”
Some cliche “lust” characters (from this link):
- Chivalrous Pervert — he’s a good guy, but he loves the ladies. Think Matthew McConnoughey in pretty much everything.
- Covert Pervert — trait given to a shy character to show us they’re not as innocent as we think they are (this one time, at band camp)
- The Casanova — loves, lands, then leaves the members of the opposite sex; James Bond-like
- Lovable Sex Maniac — a spectrum of perversion from pornography to sexual harassment; think Howard on The Big Bang Theory
- Dirty Old Man — played lightly as a harmless flirt who demeans but is no real threat to younger objectified persons; played seriously, this is a sexual predator
- All Women Are Lustful — can be the woman ignoring social convention to get hers, or can be the reversal of the “all men are perverts” trope wherein women are actually the listful ones who need to be tamed via marriage
- Death by Sex — common in slasher films as people coming off the high of intercourse are less aware of their surroundings and therefor vulnerable to homicidal maniacs
- Stalker with a Crush — love makes you evil, if I can’t have you, no one can, and all those other cliched and doomed scenarios
- Villainous Incest — how bad can you make a villain? Can he love his mama a little too much? Have taken advantage of a sister or half-sister? Just yikes.
- Serial Killers (of the hedonistic variety) — getting sexual pleasure from causing pain and murder
- the villain who says “I Have You Now, My Pretty.” — licking, sniffing, groping, unwanted terms of endearment, unwanted kisses, dressing the captive victim in skimpy clothing (Leah’s bikini), or forcing the captive into marriage (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves when Alan Rickman forces Maid Marion into marriage. Yikes).
Euphemisms and other rules of writing about Lust.
This list of synonyms and antonyms for lust including:
Euphemisms for intimacy and sex are accepted on three levels:
- Closed-door — it’s assumed sexy things are happening but they’re not described
- Inferred — the emotional words overtake the physical and metaphors work to give the reader the gist
- Explicit — the vocabulary of intimate contact is overt, professional, and really depends on the voice of the narrator.
How much is too much? Describing intimacy comes down to specific purpose for the passage. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the goal of the scene? How many times does the character need to engage in sexual behavior? Depends on the purpose of that behavior in development of the character and/or the plot.
The romance formula is progressive:
- Notice or meet/cute
- Admiration or Lust — physical attraction made up of looks, scent, confidence, or admirable action (save a kitten, defend someone against a bully)
- Denial or roadblock — why they can’t be together
- Decision to overcome — consummate the relationship
- Final challenge — past revisited, misunderstanding, etc.
- Big gesture — one to the other or both at the same time; sometimes with intervention of friends or family
The physical interaction is also usually progressive, providing for deeper levels of intimacy as the couple develops their emotional attachment to one another.
If it’s not lust, it’s love. Right? From Lisa Hall Wilson at this blog about writing the physical actions of love:
The Greeks have/had 7 words for love:
- Eros – erotic-sexual love
- Agape – selfless, sacrificial love
- Ludus – playful love, overt flirting/teasing/seduction with no strings attached
- Philia – deep friendship, platonic and sincere
- Pragma – standing in love (as opposed to falling in love) the longstanding practical love as shared by a couple married for a long time
- Philautia – self-love – could be meant in an narcissistic way, or in the way of taking care of yourself enabling you to better love others
- Storge – familial love as between parent and child
Characters can share intimacy in three ways (according to Diana Gabaldon quoted in this link): Dialogue, Expression, and Action.
What are the rules around lust in dialogue?
- Vocabulary — think of how the body, the act, and the intimacy are described; is there profanity? Are the characters trying to shock one another? Titillate or expose one another? Are they honest with one another?
- Tone — volume, raspiness, staccato, all these ways to describe how a character speaks when verbalizing the lust
Expression — how do people look at one another in lust? What are some clichéd ways to describe lust and how can you avoid them?
Action — Think of a director moving characters across a stage — are they approaching one another, retreating? Are they close? Within an arm’s reach? Can they sense one another? Are there obstacles between them? Or just open space?
Are they aggressive and forthright about their lust? Or are they tentative and exploratory? Wondering how far the other will let them go? What are they expected and allowed to do — a hug in greeting, a high-five in victory — and what are they likely to do out of lust — a kiss to the neck, a tighter embrace, a hand slid lower than appropriate.
So how do you do it?
This article on how to craft intimate scenes is a good one. Its first advice is to remember that intimate scenes are not about bodies and fluids, they’re about emotions and connections. Here’s the rest:
Lust is about emotion in the scene, so ask:
- What are my characters feeling as they enter this scene, both about themselves and toward the other person?
- Why do my characters’ emotions result in shared intimacy in this particular scene?
Intimate scenes take the story in a new direction, so ask:
- What happens if these two characters do not find a satisfying connection?
- What happens if they feel more than they expected? Or less?
- What happens if other characters know these two people have been intimate?
Use the five senses:
- What does the scene sound like?
- What does it smell like?
- What does it taste like?
- What does it feel like?
- What does it look like?
Don’t forget the “after” — if sex scenes move the plot in one direction or another, the characters are acutely aware. Some great scenes are confused “after” scenes — one thinks the intimacy is establishing a new closeness or alliance and the other regrets being vulnerable and wants to distance themselves.