Tag: sex


Posted on by Steven Savage

Crowd Of People

(This post is ironic in light of the recent Supreme Court decision, but at the same time quite illustrative)

So last time I discussed the complex elements of sex and society. Sex is a kind of primal element of living creatures, and thus affects how they develop, interact, and work together. Sentient creatures, so my thesis goes, are basically about communication, and sex is just the first form of it. Because it is so core to living beings, sex infuses a lot of what sentient beings do – or the complex structures that evolve and develop as they make societies and civilizations.

Now when it comes to worldbuilding cultures and society, reproduction and sex will inevitably be a part of what you create, because you don’t have members of a society without making more members of society – and all the complications that ensues.  Sex may be simple in principle, but it gets pretty complex.

So to help you devise the sides of your society that involve sex (and tangentially that’ll be a lot), here’s a list of areas to consider. This is not a complete list, just a way to get you to develop the traditions, language, and so on for your society.

The fact that this is not a complete list gives you an idea of what you may face.

But First . . .

But first, let’s ask the thorny question – when designing a civilization or a culture or a society, just how much do you need to think about all of this? When you consider all the traditions, habits, words, and so on that involve sex it can be pretty exhausting to try and detail how a society handles sex. So how much do you need to do so you can get on to other stuff?

I mean yes, you can’t spend all your time thinking about sex, even when you feel you could if it was about you having it.  You’ve got magic and solar systems and the like to design.

In this case, I advise a few things:

  1. Understand the basic attitude the society has about essential sexual issues.
  2. Detail the elements relevant to “manifest” that attitude clearly.
  3. Know “just a bit more” than you think your reader will need to know.

#1 is really important because, if you need to figure something out, you’re primed to figure out the answers for things you didn’t think of.

And with that said, let’s get going . . .

Society And Sex Checklist

So here’s areas that you’ll need to consider when designing sex and societies in your world. As noted it’s not complete, but it should be enough to keep you going.

Lineage: Most forms of reproduction we may conceive involve close lineages – someone is the offspring of so-and-so, who is the off-spring of such-and-such, going back in time. Sex means someone gets out there and produces the generation that produces the next one.

Just consider the battles over kingships and inheritances you’ve seen or read about.  Or think about the obligations people have in your culture towards family members.

Is lineage (who’s the family of whom) important in your setting? If not, no worry – but if it is important (or instinctual) then how does it affect society, traditions, laws, and so on?

Exercise: Ask how many times you’ve dealt with lineage-based issues in your life – wills, inheritance, paternity, etc.

Birth: At some point a new life comes into being. So what does the society do then? Considering how much reproducing a society may do, there’s going to be a lot to do and thus . . . traditions, rules, and more.

Birth means you suddenly have a new member of society – and if your’e anything like humans, one that’s rather vulnerable and needs to be raised. It also brings in the complications of lineage, medical issues, validation of said lineage, health, and more.  Birth is so complicated people may forget what the person giving birth is going through.

So it’s very likely a society is going to construct a lot of traditions and policies around birth. Birth is sort of the end result of sex – and the beginning of a lot of other questions.

Exercise: Last time you or a close friend or relative had a child, what social, religious, and cultural activities did you engage in? What purpose did they serve (if any)?

Raising Children: Once you’ve got new members of society, your various races and beings and societies are going to raise them. Perhaps there is, again, some difference between the people you write and we humans, but if not, then you’re back to the issue – raising kids.

In this case, you have to ask what raising children does – and following my theme of communication, it’s about taking new members of society and integrating them into said society. It’s helping them become functional, giving them a place, and telling them who they are.

On top of that,it’s also going to be influenced and influence other elements of society. It’s the morals to be passed on, the education, the principles. Raising Children is the end result of sex, and in the way what societies all come down to passing things on.  It’s not just genes.

Exercise: How did you get raised to be who you are – and what worked and what didn’t? Why did the traditions and things you experienced exist (even if it wasn’t a good reason).

Puberty (or the lack): Puberty among humans is something we take for granted because we’re used to it. Every joke or lamentation about it seems so standard that we miss what it is – a child beginning the transformation into an adult, and an adult capable of reproduction.  That’s actually pretty impressive, but we tend not to think about it.

It’s likely any species you design has some kind of change into having fall maturity and reproductive capacity. If this isn’t part of a species you design, then that alone brings in a lot of complexities. Have a sentient species that can reproduce right after birth and you have some seriously complicated issues.  I mean at that point you’ve got human Tribbles.

But I’m going to focus on puberty or the equivalent in your settings, assuming a setting you created has creatures that take time to reach physical, mental, and sexual maturity.

Consider what puberty means. It means the transformation of a creature into a more mature form, which includes reproductive capacity. A society is going to have to cope with that because that’s a big change.  It’s almost like the person is evolving into something else just within their lifetime.

Come to think of it, unless maturity comes in a proper order or all at once, sexual, mental, and physical maturity may arrive at different times. As we can see in humans, they don’t always line up – and if there’s something like that in your species, it gets more complicated.  You can certainly see plenty of examples in human society where these things get complicated (just look at the arguments over sex education in America)

Exercise: Think of the different rituals you’ve seen for puberty, the different initiations (formal and otherwise), and social concern for adolescents. Now think of what that means for a society you develop.

Adulthood: If you’ve got some kind of maturing process (Puberty) at some point a creature in a society becomes an adult.  That’s another level of complication.

Adulthood brings up a huge amounts of issues a society must cope with. When does someone become mature? What is needed for them to be a functional adult? How is this adulthood communicated to people?  What rules about sex change at maturity?

Adulthood is when you get handed the keys to society as it were, so most societies consciously or unconsciously, in an organized or disorganized manner, need to have systems and institutions to pull that off. Needless to say plenty of interests – and competing interests – come into play.

Adulthood, to bring it back to our subject, is also when the ability to sexually reproduce is recognized and perhaps even emphasized. The child is now a member of society, and that usually indicates some reproductive capacity. Society needless to say needs to recognize and prepare them for this – and maybe prepare itself.

Exercise: When did you find you were considered an adult – or what do you think your society requires you to do to be considered an adult.

Courtship: Reproduction leads to offspring, offspring grow and mature – and then have more offspring. So when designing your society, you’re going to then have to figure out how society deals with your species finding mates and reproducing – well if they have sex.

It sort of comes full circle.

Societies have an interest in courtship because it usually leads to social bondings (marriage, relationships) and thus children. Actually it can also lead to children without other social issues, which means that society at large is kind of concerned with that as well.

It doesn’t take much reading of human history to see just how much drama, ritual, writing, poetry, conflicts, and time is dedicated to courtship. That should tell you that when you’re designing a society, you gotta gear up and cover courtship.  Probably in painful detail.

Exercise: Walk through advice sections of a bookstore and see how many are on anything related to courtship, from dating to weddings.

Marriage: Reproduction leads to children who grow, mature, court, and then bond/pair bond/get married/what have you. Sentient beings enter into some kind of reproductive relationship, so for the sake of your world building I’m just gonna call it marriage.

Societies obviously have an interest in marriage since that involves social bonding, reproduction, and the roles of people. The individuals in societies obviously have an interest as well.  So you’ll have to figure out how your society deals with marriage.

Marriage traditions around the world vary, and they vary in history, but their sheer prominence tells you that humans think a lot about it. You can assume most sentient species will be likewise involved.

When it comes to marriages, it’s also important to be aware that expectations and traditions and elements of societies may not be verbalized or obvious. They can be so accepted and so integral and so common no one even knows they’re they’re. Marriage, when you get to it, gets into everyday life – and thus people may not even pay attention to it.

Also marriages have boundaries – which you’re not supposed to transgress. There’s things you don’t do (and you’ll notice those often involve sex in our human societies). These things can change (such as issues of premarital sex).

Exercise: How many people do you know define themselves or are significantly defined by their marital relationships? How many people are defined by those relationships (such as children)?

Conception: OK you get children who grow up, become adults, court, get married – and the system starts all over again. New life gets created.

This is sort of where all of societies’ attitudes about sex come together – the rules, issues, and traditions of creating new life.

. . . or not creating new life. Because birth control, non reproductive sex, and so on also come into the picture. As noted sex is likely to infuse the lives of sentient beings and evolve and be repurposed with them, so there’s also points where you don’t want conception.  Just logging onto the internet will give you access to plenty of things about non-reproductive sex that you should definitely not be looking at at work.

Thus your society is going to have plenty of rules for conception, not conceiving, pregnancy, and the like. Simply at that point you’re starting to get to having a new member of society (or avoiding new members), so there will be policies, rules, and traditions.  Probably extensive ones.

Exercise: How have attitudes towards sex and conception changed in your lifetime? The lifetime of your parents? Of your country’s history? Why?

Decrease/End of Reproduction: Finally, there’s a point where life forms stop reproducing. Now in some cases that’s death (yes, I know if we drag in cloning, but stick with me here), but in the case of humans at least we often lose reproductive capacity before that point. Because this involves various biological changes, it can be pretty prominent in other ways.

Consider humans. Menopause involves the ceasing of reproductive ability and hormonal changes. Look at the concern about impotence men may have. Just consider issues of royal and family linages affected by age.

Rituals, society rules, obligations, and so on may recognize, have penalties, or compensate for these changes. After all they’re be, to say the least, rather noticeable as people are having it happen to them.

This is an area where world builders don’t give enough thought, in my opinion. So I’m encouraging you to.

Exercise: Where have you seen people deal with a loss of reproductive capacity, how did they react, and what social rules were involved.

Onward And Forward

This is just a limited list of major social areas where a society is going to have rules that, directly or indirectly, relate to sex. It should give you enough to think of.

I can say that sex is an area that is usually not addressed in proper detail in much world building – it’s too easy to map what is known or put “a twist” on an idea, or to just resort to tropes, without really exploring. But a look at the fascinating history of traditions related to sex, courtship, rules, art, and more shows there’s a lot to build and create in your worlds.

Done right it makes richer, more believable worlds and characters.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Posted on by Steven Savage

So you’ve got sexually reproducing beings in your setting. You’ve worked on their psychologies, understanding just how sex, really the most primal communication a being has, affects them.

Of course when you deal with sex and psychology, it’s all because beings have to interact to reproduce. Where you bring together two more more beings with some mutual goals and drives (at least reproduction) then things get complex. These creatures have to interact, get along, and work together to survive – and thus reproduce. Once you have sex you eventually have a crowd and they’re going to need to work together.

In fact, working together benefits everyone. You need some level of cooperation among a species to A) reproduce and B) not kill each other off.

At some point, you start developing a society. Be it a pack level behavior or a human-like capacity to hyperadapt and run culture as if it was a program, sex leads to social behavior.

What can I say? Sex makes things complicated. But you knew that.

A Quick Note

I’m going to be talking social behaviors here, and I’ll be referring to this as society, since it’s likely that you’re focusing on sentients in your settings and because sentience is when things get more complicated and when we write. However a good chunk of this applies to less-sentient, animal-level behavior that has social behavior even if it’s not a society. I’ll refer to this as “society” for the sake of not constantly clearing this up.

In short, i’m using the word society in the broadest sense.

So What Is Society?

So let’s ask just what a society and social behavior does.

Society is how living organisms arrange themselves and communicate among themselves. No man is an island, and a creature living on its own is probably dead in the end. But a society allows for members to interact, share, survive, and prosper – oh and of course have sex.

When it comes to sex, society lets them hook up, reproduce, and carry on the line – and the society. You can’t separate the two if you think about it. Society lets you reproduce easier (and deal with the results of reproduction).

Sexual organisms at the very least need some social elements to let them connect, have sex, reproduce, and raise the young (as much as is needed). When you have sex you have society of some kind. Some creatures just take it farther than others – like humans.

Society is sort of the “next level” of psychology for a species. It’s that principle that lets them get organized, communicate, and pass on information – and genes.

Consider how having these social instincts contributes to survival. The ability to bond and socialize, social behaviors, allows creatures to further grow and survive. Highly social creatures are almost an organism all their own, each being a cell, moving forward, growing, and surviving – even as some cells are born and die.

In fact, society itself really is about the transmission of information. Behaviors, language, rituals, training all allow for survival but are also communicated due to social abilities. An individual, be it a poet or an animal that passes on a clever hunting trick, outlives their time and perhaps even their progeny by passing information along.

In a weird way, society is almost a “second level” of sex. An individual can have vast influence beyond their individual reproduction, and ideas, concepts, or even simple learned behaviors can echo for ages in descendants yet unborn.

As I said, living beings are all about communication. Sex is just the first kind.

But that leads a lot to explore, and when you talk sex and society, there’s a few things you’ll want to explore when you world build a society and the way it affects sex.

The Biological Level

On one level you have to ask how much of the social instincts creatures you design are innate and how they vary.

It’s very likely any reasonably complex sexual species is going to have some hardwired social instincts just so they can survive and reproduce. These may be rather basic, but are likely to extend beyond the individual psychology of raw sex drive and need. After all if they’re not hardwired enough, that drive probably isn’t going to get expressed very well.

This can get rather tricky as now you have to ask where the core biological drive ends and learned and social behaviors begin. Ask yourself, in your experience, what are the basic human social drives and you’ll see how complex it gets.

Note that these social instincts do not always involve sex. Sure sex is a big part of living creature’s behaviors (as we know) but they also have behaviors that help them get along. I suppose you could note once you start reproducing you’ve gotta start getting along.

EXERCISE: Look at the way you spent your day today. How many things did you do that were more learned than instinctive? How many were more instinctive than learned? That point you yelled at someone for cutting you off on the freeway may have been pure territorial rage . . .

The Developmental Level

The next question in designing sexual species’ social elements is asking what traits that have that can be developed that are part of social (and thus to an extent) sexual behavior. What are the creatures wired to do or able to do, but that is highly variable or can be “filled” up?

Human language is a classic example of this. It’s amazing, but we have this ability to create symbol systems and thus pass on information. These words you are reading are in a language that evolved for aeons, allowing us to employ our natural communications abilities.

A similar example in humans is developing social roles. Though we have complex, varied societies, we still seem inclined to form social bonds and roles. It’s as if we slot ourselves into them happily – even if said role is that of an outsider, we almost need others to announce how “outsidery” we are.

This is an extremely challenging area as you have to enter a liminal area between biological traits and the larger society beings form, to ask what they’re INCLINED to do. However I find this area very rewarding to explore as you have to enter this unsure area and really ask how the life forms you designed adapt – and in what parameters.

EXERCISE: Name five human skills/traits/abilities that you think are natural and hardwired, but are also highly developmental. What role do they play?

The Social Level

Ultimately, when you get to sentients or complex social beings, you end up with a society.

A society is a strange thing really. It’s composed of biological creatures with some hardwired traits, who have learned various things because they’re inclined to, and now pass the society they constructed along. Society is both something they give birth to and that is their parent (to keep the whole sex thing in the picture)

At the same time, a society is a powerful thing for a species to develop. It can literally be like a unified yet adaptable organism, it vastly outlasts any of its components, it can change quickly since it’s not as tied to biological components, and it can propagate information effectively. A society is the ultimate reproductive/communicative tool that can send probes to distant worlds, seed TV signals into space, and write words down that survive thousands of years later.

Thus when you design organsims that have sex, they develop individual psychologies, they have social instincts, and ultimately they create a society.

Which if you think about it makes sense. A society is built on communication and propagating information, and because of that it allows for survival, and thus reproduction (even if its not biological). A society is in a way the sophisticated triumph of sex, the primal communication.

Of course that gets complex, but first . . .

EXERCISE: In the next five minutes, list all the ways an identifiable society is like a living organism.

EXERCISE: Now that you listed the similarities between a society and a living organism, list the differences.

The Social-Sexual Level

The thing is that sex is hardwired into beings that reproduce. So ultimately the society that they evolved is going to involve sex because its so primal, so hardwired, so vital to living beings.

Once you toss a bunch of beings together, the hormones (or equivalent) get going and there’s mating behavior, competition, childrearing, and more. So society, that giant organizational tool of living beings is going to have to cope with sex and make sure it’s handled properly (well what people deem properly). Sex got us to society, and society will usually have something to say about it.

This makes perfect sense since sex is such a primal part of living beings. If you’re going to get along, this core urge and process will be regulated, encouraged, discussed, etc. Thats jut part for the course. Sex doesn’t happen in a vacuum, unless you’re writing some interesting spaceborn pornography – and even then its not a social vacuum.

So ultimately when you design living creatures and their society, sex is going to come into it all the time. YOu can’t avoid it because sex is how you got here.

EXERCISE: List all the sexual taboos in your culture you can think of. Why do they exist.

EXERCISE: What is the most nonsensical sexual taboo you’ve seen. Why did it exist, and who may think it made sense.

Once you have living creatures that reproduce you eventually get society. It seems that’s kind of inevitable because sex requires socialization, and society just kind of follows.

Ultimately this loops itself and the society has to handle sexual issues as well. It’s sort of a perfect oroborous really.

Of course, when you get to society and sex, there’s plenty of areas society has to handle, so we’ll get to that next . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Posted on by Steven Savage


OK we covered the biology of sex, which if I did my job, proved to be completely unarousing unless you have a major science fetish. If you do, then you’re welcome.

The thing with writing sex in your settings, with creating and understanding the sexuality of the beings and creatures in your setting, is that it goes beyond biology. Think of it as a continuity – the biology is just the start, but it leads to other things.  Biology is the foreplay, if you want to dangerously skirt metaphors I have no intention of expanding on.

Once you have creatures reproducing, be they human or otherwise, once evolution kicks in (or the gods take charge or whatever) then you may have sentient creatures dealing with sex. That’s when things get a lot more complicated and less scientific.

Sex is part of our minds. For some of us, an extremely large part.

Now things get personal. Literally. (more…)

Posted on by Steven Savage

And its time to talk about sex and worldbuilding. Which, if you think is going to be exciting and arousing, indicates you are either sadly deluded, or really into worldbuilding to a level few are. You make the call, I won’t judge.

Sex in many ways is like air, and not in that it’s part of life and sometimes involves wearing a mask. It’s more the fact that it’s so omnipresent that we can miss out how important it is. We think we know how important it is because we just assume we do – until we really think about it.

Sex is part of being human (it’s why you’re here to be human), so we can get used to it like we do seeing and smelling and touching. That of course means we can miss its complexities, and that means we miss it when creating our worlds.  When you miss something so important in your worldbuilding, you’re far worse at it.

So even if you never delve much into sexuality in your settings and stories, it’s probably there in the background, and it might be in the foreground and you don’t know it.

So first of all, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of sex and worldbuilding – biology.

And let’s take a look at three basic things you may face – sexual biology that is familiar, sexual biology that is similar to our world, and completely different species.

But first, let’s remember what sex is for.

The Purpose Of Sex

Sex is about information – progenitors are able to transmit information about themselves in a way that allows it to be used to create new life.  In the case of humans, the DNA of the parents provides the blueprint for a new person to develop in the body of one of the partners.  No matter what kind of creatures you build, sex comes down to information being used to create new life – even if in the case of simple creatures its the information being copied in simple cellular division.

Sex in many ways is like a conversation, though in the case of the aforementioned simple animals, it’s rhetorical.

So when you start thinking about the biology of sex in your setting, always remember it comes down to information.  However it gets more complicated . . .

. . . really, when you think of it all life is about information.  It’s locating food or holding a rally that leads a country to victory in a war.  It’s about smelling out a predator or about listening for the right tone to tell you your significant other is cheesed off.  Life is input and output and retention and processing of information.

In turn, we can also see how living creatures don’t really have distinct boundaries among their organs and instincts and thought processes.  Someone seeking out a mate or a good meal will rally every resource they have to find it.  Our desire for an adrenaline rush can make us seek out thrills skydiving – and in turn someone had to actually rally their mental abilities to invent skydiving.

Now when you add in sex, the core “conversation” of life, you can realize how complicated writing it can be.  That’s the original part of life – the ability to pass itself on.  It’s affected every part of our lives as humans, and ties into our familial instincts, our habits, or ability to form social relations, and even our boundaries.  Sex is everywhere in its own way.

Thus, even from biological points of view, writing about sex becomes complicated because it’s at the core of a living being and because its likely to touch on far more than simple reproduction.

In the end, I find that when writing about sex and designing its point in your world it keeps coming back to these lessons:

  • Living creatures propagate themselves.  At the core a species is about transmission of information.
  • Living creatures lack boundaries among their component biologies – which is understandable because why should they be there?
  • Because of this it is likely that sex for any species you may write will go beyond the boundaries of reproduction and into all aspects of life.
  • This in many ways makes sense as, again, sex is a form of communication/transmission and that is what life is about.

Now with that being said, let’s move on to the three basic kinds of sexuality you may end up designing in your worlds.
Situation Normal

First of all if you’re writing about people that are for all extents and purposes human, i may seem pretty easy to write about sex and ignore it all together. It’s just standard. It’s normal. It’s background noise, though perhaps with an uninspired soundtrack.

This is where things tend to go wrong because we don’t pay attention.

The biology of sex for humans introduces any numbers of complicators that may play into your story. Just a few examples:

  • Issues of contraception.
  • Issues of social diseases.
  • The duration of pregnancy.
  • Complications of pregnancy.
  • Biological issues due to sex organs, from ovarian cysts to enlarged prostates.
  • Biological transformations such as puberty and menopause.

If you’re going to do any kind of setting with regular people, the biology of sex is likely to come up, even if it’s just figuring someone hauls off and kicks another character in the junk. They may be minor, but they may be there.

In most cases, writing “humans like us” and sex really focuses not on the biology (with which we have passing familiarity) but psychology and culture. That may lull you into a false sense of security.

So when worldbuilging “normal” humans, take a moment to inventory any issues of sex that may come up. A quick list is:

  • What diseases exist that are sexually transmitted or involved? This will also affect culture.
  • What areas of sexual transformation are affected by the setting. In an era of malnutrition puberty and pregnancy will be aversely affected, for instance.
  • What other environmental or setting factors may affect sexuality biologically. This can radically affect your setting – if a virus is causing sterility in your setting, you need to design it to explain why there is a population left in your setting.
  • How do cultural and psychological and even metaphysical elements affect sexuality – attitude, access to contraception, etc. Biology is a powerful thing, but these other factors will affect it.

Even in writing a real-world setting, don’t always assume you know enough about sexual biology to write. A little research is in order if it’s remotely part of your story. Because of many issues (psychological and cultural) you may know less than you think.


Sex And The Possibly Single Almost-Human

Then you get into settings or setting elements where you have almost-humans. Your standard fantasy races, the thing-on-the-forehead-but-human-otherwise aliens, and so on. You know, the beings in the setting that are are for most intent human but a bit different.

It’s often tempting in dealing with almost-humans to do two things:

  • To make their sexuality just like humans.
  • To throw in a twist or something extra, but treat them just like humans.

Both approaches are a mistake. The first is to ignore all other factors that make your species different – unless you’re quite sure there aren’t any (then you may be OK). The second is to forget that small changes can have vast repercussions, especially when you deal with reproduction.

Imagine a human-like race where the gestation period was half the time, completely changing the effect it’d have on the role of women. Lower the sex drive of a species and it might limit their spread (as often seems to be a trope of fantasy dwarves thanks to Tolkein). A few minor changes to your “almost human” races and you have major repercussions to deal with.

In handling the biology of near-human species I find a good way to deal with it is to stop thinking of them as near-human and focus on them as species that has familiar elements. These familiar elements provide you a lot of useful reference points, and from there you can extrapolate on what the differences mean.

Think of it as having a known path, and that makes it easy to figure out where you deviate from it and what happens when you do. This isn’t my favorite method (see below), but is useful.

A few examples:

  • Maybe you have increased fertility due to a hostile environment. In turn as a species tames its world population may be a problem quicker. There’s something to deal with in your story.
  • Perhaps you do limited gestation periods. That would affect the role of women in society as they’re less limited. It also would probably increase fertility for obvious reasons.
  • What if species have no case of menopause or reproductive limits in their lifespan. If couples can easily have children until death it’ll change ideal ages for marrying and conceiving.

However, remember you are creating a different species. Past a few minor changes here and there, you may really be inventing a new species. When things get different from regular humans to any degree, you’re really just designing a completely new species . . . and you might just want to start here to begin with.
Loving The Alien: The Sexual Biology of Non-Humans

And this is where it gets complicated. More complicated – creating a totally new species in your setting and dealing with their sexuality.

In designing a species from scratch, in not having a “human with funny ears” you’re going to enter into a very crazy world. Designing your own species can be tough as is, and when you get to sexuality it’s going to be a challenge because, as noted, sex is so complex and connected to other things in the case of living beings.

Just think how complex sex is for humans, biologically. Now inventory all the non-human species you know about and think about their sexual biology. Now realize you’ve got to create something like that. It’s enough to make you loose interest in sex.

Welcome to the cold shower of world building original species.

So I won’t lie, if you’re going to populate your world with definite non-humans it’s going to require some thought. There is some advice I can provide:

  1. Remember sex is about transmission and propagation, but it is likely to tie into other elements of any species, as noted above.
  2.  Read up on the sexual biology of other creatures and note how they work. It’ll give you ideas, and in some cases probably horrify you beyond words.
  3. Determine how far you have to go. Building realistic species (or building species realistically) can be very addictive and you can go pretty far down any rabbit hole of biology, be it sex or something else.

The key to designing good sexual biology is, like many things, to know how much you have to do then take it a little farther to make sure you know enough.

I’ll just have to leave that up to you.

Sex Is Important

Hope I haven’t scared you off, but sex is a complicated issue, as we all know, however it’s incredibly important to do in your worldbuilding.

It’s why there is a population to experience it.

It’s a part of our own lives so readers will notice its absence.

It’s part of life itself.

It might just be one of your biggest challenge as a worldbuilder. But if you’re able to tackle it, you’ll be rewarded with a very believable world.

Of course once we talk biology, we have to talk about psychology, and that’s next . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.

Seventh Sanctum™, the page of random generators.

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