Given that a recent theme in my posts seems to have revolved around the whole ‘need to know only’ and ‘less is more’ style of writing, I thought this was a good time to share a more personal reason why that’s a solid approach. Not from me, but from one of the modern stars of fantasy writing – Scott Lynch. On his LiveJournal back in July, whilst discussing a panel discussion he’d sat on about teen sex in fantasy, he made the following comment:
One thing I will say, in response to the frequent observation (and hell, I’ve made it too) that our culture seems far more comfortable with gruesome fictional violence than it does with consensual fictional sex, is that there is one rarely-discussed reason for author squeamishness that has nothing to do with prudishness or presumption or lack of awareness. It is merely that an author writing a sex scene may be in more danger of revealing actual facts about their intimate self and their kinks and preferences than they are at any other time in the writing process; the art of writing honestly and with feeling and vigor threatens to expose much about the person behind the keys. Mitigating or preventing that exposure is a hard skill to learn.
Everyone knows the old adage that writing reveals a lot about the writer, and some of that is necessary to create a level of empathy and reality. But consider it from the writer’s perspective – what bits are you showing the world, and how much of yourself are you willing to put on public display? I appreciate that, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, this may seem like a strange question to ask but with social web updates you’re in conscious control of what you’re sharing. When writing, you may well not realise what you’re revealing, not only about yourself but your partner and family too. Just something to bear in mind.