In honor of Valentine’s Day today, I thought I would post this blog and share my experience with writing a steamy scene. I titled this “Volume I”, because I foresee numerous posts on this topic! As I do research and stumble upon articles on writing for motivation, I see a lot of interesting thoughts on writing about sex. I also subscribe to quite a few writing sites and get constant updates from Pinterest about writing boards to follow. There is a ton of information out there, so if you’re looking for inspiration, you will definitely find it.
So here goes:
I recently got an email with a link to an article, titled: Writing Sex Scenes. I perked up. Who wouldn’t? I believe most people perk up when they hear the word ‘sex’. It’s intriguing to read about, and, as a writer, it’s even more intriguing to read articles on the craft of creating intimacy. But, this article left me wanting more. Come on. When it comes to sex, the last thing you want is to be left unsatisfied.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and respect any writer, and I have a lot of respect for those who are publishing articles with advice on how to refine the craft. I tend to have a lot of random thoughts once I finish reading one and wanted to share that here.
The article explained that writers know their characters best. And while sex is important to the growth of a relationship, it suggested that you don’t add sex to a scene simply because you think it’ll increase sales. Wait, what? No gratuitous sex scenes?! Who doesn’t want a frivolous romp thrown into a story? Especially in a romance novel! It’s funny to me that someone would say a sex scene shouldn’t be gratuitous. Hmm, yeah, because that’s the only reason I ever picked up a bodice ripper…for a history lesson. Of course, sex scenes are gratuitous! They’re scandalous and raunchy, and I know there are many individuals out there who want to read about two people getting hot and heavy, collapsing together in a sweaty, shivering mass!
Sex scenes can be challenging to write for a few reasons.
- You have to create the fantasy of an exceptional experience. Unless your characters are hitting some kind of slump that pertains to your story, there has to be build up and emotions, and the way the body starts to feel when aroused. But, sex can also be awkward, and if the scene calls for it, that has to come across. For example, in one of my books, I write about the main character losing her virginity. It’s awkward and fumbling in parts. Why? Because losing your virginity is awkward and fumbling! And if you try to tell me otherwise, I’ll never believe you.
- When I write a steamy scene, I get self-conscious that people are thinking I’ve experienced the content of the scene. Do I draw on personal experience? Honestly, rarely. I maybe think about how I’ve felt in certain situations in my life, but if my heroine is being bent over a desk by my hero, it doesn’t mean I’ve done so, as well. Getting into the creation of a sultry moment is getting to a space where I just let my mind go and my fingers race over the keys. Often times, I won’t even look at what I’m writing until, like my characters, I’m spent from the experience. Then I go back and see what they just enjoyed.
- It’s embarrassing to write a sex scene! For me, I become so invested in my characters and I fall so deeply in love with them, when I write an intimate moment, I feel like I’m spying on them. It’s also embarrassing because when people read them, they look at you differently. (See reason #2 why they’re awkward to write.) I let my husband read my work as it’s complete. He keeps me in line and his interest keeps me motivated to get the next chapter done so he can read. But, the first time he read one of my sex scenes, he looked at me and said, “You want the kids to catch us doing that?” Uh, no. Just, no.
- Sometimes they make me blush! Yes, sometimes my own writing makes me blink and wonder where the hell that came from. But, as I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve learned that if I’m blushing, that means it’s good. If I can shock myself, I’m going to intrigue the reader.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes through the mind of a writer when they include a sex scene in their story, there you have it. These are simply my thoughts on the topic, though. Other writers may have a different perspective and that’s just fine.
This concludes Volume I of Let’s Talk About Sex. More to come…pun intended!