Writing Sex Scenes
Do I need a rape scene?
It would help to know a bit more about the character - why does she obsess over this guy? Is it her hatred for him? Does she stalk him with the intent to kill him? I am guessing it's not a "she secretly enjoyed it" and fell in some weird kind of love with him - but since you point out she was unstable already, I just want to make sure.
Personally, unless it is the "she secretly enjoyed it" scenario - I wouldn't write the scene itself. There are many ways to allude to the fact that it messed her up - perhaps she would be better off recalling situations after the rape - like the look in the hospital staff's eyes as they brought in the rape kit (was it sorrow for her, did she see a hint of "this was probably your fault", etc) or her getting home and showering in hot water that nearly burned her skin to try and feel clean - or something to that effect.
In my opinion, people read sex scenes for enjoyment purposes. I've read that many of the older erotica books used rape as a way to get sex scenes into the books because of the stigma that women were supposed to be "good" - and not really just go about and wantonly have sex with strangers - so rape presented the author with a way around that. But I believe the women enjoyed it in these cases - I think this is the same with much hentai. Not sure - haven't read those books.
My point is that inserting an un-enjoyable, traumatic sex scene would likely cause people to put the book down rather than get into the characters head, because this situation - or the fear of this type of situation, would make a scene like this too hard to handle.
--edited by May on 7/4/2013, 4:33 PM--
I think that literal description of the mechanics of a rape will detract from the emotional impact of the act. The problem is that the reader's reaction may be revulsion as much as outrage, thereby obscuring the emotional impact on the woman. It is also a question of POV -- I would suspect that you would be better off writing the scene from the woman's POV and letting the rapist's words and facial expressions illustrate his sadistic enjoyment. You might consider using a stream-of-consciousness approach focusing on her internal monologue (or unvocalized dialogue with the rapist) rather than the details of the physical act.
I don't know know your POV for the entire book. I recommend not writing the rape from the rapist's POV. Don't know if you can do that and not turn off your reader. I would write a scene like that in third person. It can be more objective where the writer can be seeing the act right along with the reader. It's more of a "see? I'm with you. Isn't that awful?" With the rapist's POV you're saying "see? Isn't this fun? At least interesting, right?" In the film IRREVERSIBLE there is a rape in the center of the film. All through the first half of the film the camera has an omnicient POV, a sort of director's POV. But when the rape ocurrs, and it's the most powerful repulsive (as it should be) rape scene I've ever seen, the camera drops to the ground and is perfectly still during the entire scene. It never moves. I think the director did that to take himself out of the scene and make it more objective for himself and for the audience. After the rape, the second half of the film is shot in a standard third person style that let's you forget the director was pulling you around by the nose in the first half. The second half of the film gets more and more beautiful and you're able to enjoy the beauty, so I think the technique worked. BTW the film is extremely powerful and definitely not most people's cup of tea. As art, it's probably a masterpiece. It's definitely as strong NC-17, but not porn, obviously.
Just realized how old the original post is. I guess I'm tinkling in the wind here.
--edited by Dennis Fleming on 9/14/2013, 11:19 PM--