Muphry’s Law and writing sex scenes

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Muphry’s Law (courtesy of my lovely daughter the artist), as defined by John Bangsund of the the Victorian Society of Editors who is allowed the spelling in #1 because he was Australian:

  1. if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;
  2. if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
  3. the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and
  4. any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

It’s tough to follow that, but I thought I’d talk about writing sex scenes. Or rather, YOU will talk about writing sex scenes, since I want some reader feedback.

What anachronisms do you tolerate in the heroine’s underwear

  1. Drawers that need to be removed
  2. Black and/or red garment a la Fredericks of Hollywood
  3. Victorian (much sexier) corset
  4. None. They’re all cheating
  5. Heck, who cares. They’ll be removed anyway

What location do you favor?

  1. The ducal bed
  2. The ducal bed even if the hero isn’t the duke
  3. The garden
  4. The conservatory
  5. The stables
  6. The drawing room
  7. The library
  8. The second undergardener’s shed while he’s on lunch break
  9. The … insert any other room in the house
  10. A carriage
  11. A carriage in Hyde Park when the fashionable parade
  12. An open carriage
  13. An open carriage in Hyde Park when the fashionable parade
  14. On horseback (one horse)
  15. On horseback (two horses)
  16. On horseback (any number of horses) in Hyde Park when the fashionable parade
  17. Other

How long do you like the orgasm to last (the characters‘)?

  1. A chapter
  2. At least six pages
  3. One page
  4. One paragraph
  5. One sentence
  6. A punctuation mark (yes, Pam Rosenthal, I’m talking about you. Read her books for seriously well written stuff)

At that moment, the hero should cry out the name of

  1. The heroine
  2. His mother
  3. His dog
  4. His nurse
  5. His best friend at Eton

Afterward, the heroine should say

  1. [insert hero’s name] never have I experienced anything so wonderful and beautiful.
  2. Where is my absolutely anachronistic underwear? Oh, you ripped it!
  3. I can’t wait to tell my sisters
  4. I can’t wait to tell everyone at Almacks
  5. Can we eat now?

Who laces the heroine back into her stays?

  1. The hero
  2. Her maid, hovering outside the bedchamber door
  3. No problem, she has a zipper
  4. He shouts down into the taproom of the inn for assistance.

Any other preferences?

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11 years ago

Rules 1 – 3 have bitten me on the ass more times than I care to count!
P.S. For the regency-reading audience, that’s “arse”!

Pam Rosenthal
11 years ago

subtle, that, not even saying which punctuation mark it was. Hint for those who can’t guess: it’s not an em dash.

And thanks for the kind words, Janet.

11 years ago

Ummm,,, isn’t that Murphy’s Law?

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Ha ha ha ha!
I must say “other” to question about location. My characters seem to do it in an inn.

In seriousness about heroine’s underwear, I can accept drawers, but the rest of those choices are just sloppy research.

Quite amusing, Janet.
(don’t you have a horn to toot today?????)

Miranda Neville
Miranda Neville
11 years ago

Ha ha, Janet. Best antidote to Murphy’s Law: always claim your book is full of mistakes because it is. Better admit to too many than to none.

Anachronisms. 1. Just because drawers come pre-ripped, doesn’t mean they can’t take some abuse. Also 5.

Location. Sorry. I’ve never been able to buy 14, 15, or 16. Pretty much anything else is fine.

Orgasm: Mileage may (and should) vary. Am I spilling the beans when I reveal that Pam R’s workshop at the New Jersey conference contained the best line ever: “the orgasm is in the semi-colon”? It came (no pun intended) after a deeply serious and not at all drunken discussion with Meredith Duran about the significance of punctuation marks in romance.

I’m not touching the next question.

After sex. Definitely 5.

Stays? Cut straight to the morning after.

11 years ago

Ok, I’m wrong again… I didn’t click on the hot link…. I’m not up on the underwear, but do understand the whole lacing thing.. I guess I need to research who was wearing which underwear and when… Off to Google that. I’m never a fan of doing it in the stable, straw poking you is not plesant and hay is really messy.. besides stables smell…

Jane Lockwood
11 years ago

@Anonymous, unless it was your donkey that was bitten.

@Pam, neither is it an ellipse, tho Miranda spills the beans later.

@girlygirlhoosier52, the whole who wore what underwear when issue is fraught with terror,

, your hero has plenty of help from the taproom, should he require it. I’m rather partial to roadtrip settings too.

@Miranda, absolutely the heroine should eat to recover from the heroic attentions. My choice too (altho I do like “is that it?”).

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

Jane Lockwood, above, was me. Oops.

Janet Mullany
11 years ago

Diane, what horn to toot? I don’t think so…

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

All of the above.
1 (if at all).
5 (if those are my only choices).
1. (if for some reason they can’t just go to sleep and have her maid do it in the morning).

Amy V.
Amy V.
11 years ago

Janet, thank you for the laughs … I was delightfully amused right from the beginning but when I got to the question about the Hero calling out a name, I burst out laughing – not sure which was funnier, his mother or his dog!!! Not even gonna touch the reference to his friend at Eton. LOL!!
Underwear? A general shedding of clothing will always suffice.
Location? Does it really matter as long as it happens? Although, I would be interested to know how you do it on 2 horses!
Orgasm length? Well, we all know how long they really last so since we’re talking fiction – go for it!
Heroine’s after-remark? I love ‘Can we eat now!’ That’s so much better than ‘roll over, you’re snoring!’
As for lacing the stays? Hey, this is fiction … it just happens!
Thanks for the fun, Janet. : )

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Underwear anachronisms – None, unless they match the best known practices of the day for a woman of the heroine’s class.

Location – All of the above so long as it isn’t written like a show from Astley’s.

Orgasm – no more than a paragraph or so. A bit longer if you are doing from each person’s POV AND doing it well.

Whose name? The heroine’s or God’s. Anything else leads to a whole ‘nuther subplot!

Afterward – So much easier if they both fall asleep exhausted.

Who laces? The hero, if necessary. Otherwise just kick them under the bed or shove them into a portmanteau.

11 years ago

Too funny.
Won’t try to answer any of the questions, just read them and the answers. An enjoyable way to end the evening. (I should have been in bed a couple of hours ago.)

11 years ago

Performing cunnilingus can be one of the most wonderful things you can do for a woman. It makes her feel loved, admired, sexy, and has the potential to give her an exceptional orgasm. Many women prefer it to intercourse, and for those who require a large amount of clitoral stimulation, it is the easiest way to orgasm.