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The setting I am writing is of a theocratic matriarchal society. Only women are capable of using magic, with some being stronger than others. Magic is slow, ritualistic, and complex, rather than being the fireball throwing or lighting welding type. Nevertheless, it is still very powerful, and serves as the foundation of society. It is used in all walks of life, and has led to a very women-centered culture.

One of the ways I was thinking about expanding on was magic''s relationship to sex. Magic can be used to enhance the experience, or make it terrifying if used for nefarious purposes. It's not neccessarily important to the plot, but is just a way to flesh out the setting. I haven't found any books that explore this concept in detail, and I don't want it to come off as some fetishized fan fiction hentai that you would find on the internet. How should I explore this? Should I go into detail or just leave it too the readers imagination? How much is too much? And is this more of a world building question than a writing question?

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    Rule 36: When you can think of it, someone has a fetish for it. As a corollary, it is impossible to write something which does not turn someone on. – Philipp Jun 12 '17 at 14:07
  • Related question: How to write good erotic scene? – Philipp Jun 12 '17 at 14:13
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To me it sounds like going into too much detail with it could fetishise it, but then if it's more of a world building factor you probably should go into more detail. Figuring out exactly how magic and sex interact in the background of your story should help you figure out how your characters and world view and react to such an interaction. My suggestion would be to go into some detail when planning it, but when it comes to an actual novel (assuming this is a novel you're writing) keep it pretty low key, that way you can avoid sexualising the plot if that isn't what you're looking for.

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Think about how often the topic of sex comes up in real life. Aspects of it are kept private, between individuals. Other aspects are flaunted on TV, film and advertising. Certain people don't like to talk about sex at all and consider it inappropriate for respectable conversation. Other people make everything about sex and never miss an opportunity for innuendo. Some small amount of people walk around outside in their leather and leashes. But not many.

Now think about how your fictional society is different to ours. Are people more open, or is sex more of a taboo? Are there brothels on every corner, offering experiences enhanced by magic at extortionate prices, or is it more of a private, underground culture? Are most people interested in magic-related sex, or is it deviant/fetishistic behaviour? Think about your characters. Are they successful in their sexual endeavours? Do they brag, keep it to themselves, or overcompensate for their shortcomings with overt flirtatiousness? Is there a power imbalance between the sexes? Are the women feared and revered by the men? Are the men hypersexualised and oppressed by the women? This could have huge impacts on the way society functions, or very little. It's really up to you.

If it isn't essential to the plot I would avoid getting explicit about it or it would come across as porn for the sake of porn. Hints of it here and there would be enough to give readers the idea. Think about when the topic would naturally arise within your story, and explore it in those places. But, as with all things: if it's not relevant, it should be left out.

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Remember all actions and dialogue should do one of two things: advance the plot or reveal something about a character; everything else should be cut out.
Sex can do both of those things and is something readers can relate to. Erotic fiction is meant to arouse the reader, has sex for the sake of sex, and usually is some idealized or fantasy version of sex. As long as the sex is central to the plot or is used to reveal things about the characters, it is not porn, and you needn't be shy of details.
If you decide to include sex, do away with polite euphemisms and instead focus on how you connect the action to the rest of your story. What are the characters thinking about during and after sex? Can anything in the bedroom serve as a metaphor for another theme in the story? Think about what the mood is of your story and how you can incorporate that mood into how you talk about the sexual act. Are there opportunities for humor? for irony? for catharsis? disappointment?

Magic sex could potentially be something very fun to write. For some reason the masturbation scene from Clockwork Orange comes to mind, when Alex fantasizes not only about women, but also about scenes of violence and destruction. Magic sex can have lots of interesting and surreal imagery. If you go for it, go for it with all the senses. Is there music? Are there fragrances? Is it an out of body experience? Maybe the women orgasm in arias and cum confetti. It's your fictional universe. Be creative.

  • There is quite a bit of very good authors that would disagree with you there. J.R.R Tolkien, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are notorious for adding quite a bit of filler in their works for no other reason than to set up the mood and the world. Douglas Adams did the same quite a bit. Heck, Machado de Assis wrote an entire chapter made of nothing else but ponctuation on The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. – T. Sar Mar 6 at 14:26
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The most important thing you have to ask yourself is who is your audience? How specific you incorporate sex in your story depends a lot on that. If you are writing for teenagers our Young Adults, you would use a lot less specific sex scenes. But if you are writing for a very mature audience, you can use more specific scenes and incorporate the sex a lot more.

The second question you have to ask yourself is what you want your genre to be. If you want to write a partly erotic novel, then you can easily do a lot with your combination of magic and sex. But if you don't want your novel to be classified as erotic, you need to be a lot more subtle. The best way to be subtle is to never actively have sex scenes in your novel. Don't make it happen in front of the readers eyes. Instead, make your characters mention it when suitable, not describing it as a whole, but by letting the readers pierce it together bit by bit. At some part a woman can mention having used her magic in a very interesting way last night. You can have men talk about how some of them are really good with their magic in bed. Or, being scared of woman because of that. Just make sure it will come around as natural in your conversations, and don't put it in the spotlights too much.

You can still incorporate some sex scenes in your novel, but if that is not important for you, just leave them out. Or have people go to bed, skip to the next day and make them say how much fun they were having.

And a last thing, imagination is good. Most of the time these things specifically are better being mostly left to the imagination than completely fleshing it out and writing down every single detail, including what the characters feel. Just compare it to real life. Will anyone ever be able to write it better than you can feel it? Not really. So if you still try that, it will always feel a bit disapointing. If you give your readers the space to add in their own feelings and thoughts, it will feel a lot more real.

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Seems to me that you have more of a worldbuilding problem, although with writing in mind. You want to add a sex component to your magic system. Determining the what/who/how 's is purely a worldbuilding problem. The fact that you don't want it to be a central point of your story determines a constraint, a guideline.

Think about your story and think about all the occasions on which magic is used. Now ask yourself if having sex involved in each of those scenes is too much. Does your writing give the feeling you want? Try writing one if you have trouble figuring this out.

In either case more worldbuilding awaits you.

If the answer is yes, then you have to invente a good reason or a new rule for your magic system to render the use of sex occasionnal. From this point on, you have a lot of possibilities, it's up to you.

If the answer is no, that still lets you a good amount of worldbuilding to do. After all, you are adding a new possibility to your magic system. You have to think about all of the implications for all the people involved.

In the end it's a very subjective question. It depends on the amount of sex that's happening, the amount you want to actually show or talk about, the general feeling that you want your story to convey, your ability to portray this feeling in your writing and your target audience.

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The theme Magic and sex is common in many magic books. In my magic research I stumbled over Aleister Crowley and his written stuff about magic. He described some rituals, that required masturbation and spilling "sexual liquids" over runes and sigills to summon deamons and other creatures.

So if "magic users" in the real world wrote about this theme, why shouldn't it be a thing in a fantasy world? Magic is restricted to the rules, that the author set. So as long as you say it is possible, there shouldn't be a problem to include it.

But at last there is always the question: Does it match inside the story? Many storys can be destroyed with too many intercourses and sex scenes. It has to match the setting of the book and the targeted audience. Don't push something on the reader, cause it could be cool or something like that. Your world is still a little ecosystem on it's own with it's own rules.

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I don't know your personal experience but there are some things that cannot be researched. There is almost no question here.

Throughout time, and to many of those who have experienced love, love is magic, sex is magic. Words like temptress and enchantress have been used in the past to describe what we now call sex appeal. These women use their magic on men to the extent that men will lose their minds. Men have started wars after coming under the influence of a temptresses' spell.

In modern society a perfectly rational man can be enchanted by a woman's magic - under her influence he will leave his home and family in pursuance of the evil temptresses' 'sex'.

It's traditional women have always used 'magic' (recently discovered to be pheromones) to bewitch men. In truth the prince only fought the dragon in order to get laid by the princess - how crazy is that?

All you seem to saying is that in your society women have become more blatant as less coy about there magical power.

  • I think your "rational" man is not so rational if he can be driven to such insanity by mere lust. Pheromones are not magic. Men are responsible for their own actions. Even in fiction, these stereotypes are outdated and I'd suggest the OP avoids them. – sudowoodo Jun 10 '17 at 16:57
  • Helen of Troy may be part of mythology but Edward the VIII has not. US law pretty much states that pursuit of an temptress will cost you half you wealth. 60% of men cheat on their partners - it is about 'sex' - nothing more. For you to describe 'lust' as 'mere' indicates you have no experience in the adult social world. – Surtsey Jun 10 '17 at 17:36
  • The very word "temptress" frames it as the fault of the woman. If your statistic is true, which I am sceptical about, 60% of men are responsible for cheating. It is not another woman's pheromones - there is no magic that drives him to cheat. Men are not drivelling imbeciles unable to control themselves. – sudowoodo Jun 10 '17 at 18:37

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