Monday, January 31, 2011
Writing Sex Scenes - Tough Stuff
by Laura Bickle
I'll admit it. Writing sex scenes is my absolute least favorite part of writing fiction. I can fall into the overall groove of the story and cruise along happily for hundreds of pages. The protagonist is working toward resolving the primary conflict in story: saving a city from dragons and ghosts or guarding the next Oracle of Delphi. I'm into the major plot arc, throwing every obstacle I can create at her.
Before I know it, it's two thirds through the book. Sigh. And I know that I've gotta tie up some loose threats of romance and put some smut in there.
I saw that I typed "threats" instead of "threads." Freudian slip.
Oftentimes, I'll just charge on. Make a note in the margins: "Sex scene goes here." "Insert Tab A into Slot B." I put it off and focus on the parts of the story I'm more involved with.
But sooner or later, I have to face up to it and write the damn thing.
I bitch and moan about it being *expected.* I get snarky about how the real world does not run on love. I try to figure out how to get Tab A into Slot B in a way that hopefully moves the story forward.
It's not that I don't appreciate romance. I do. I enjoy a good subplot of romance, with all the tension and tumult that goes with it. It adds flavor to the story. Like everyone else, my protagonist loves to be loved. I love reading other people's romance and erotica.
Just not mine.
Sex is hard to write. Maybe, if I were writing it for myself, I'd feel differently. But I'm absolutely aghast at the idea of my sex scenes being read aloud and mocked by someone standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. My mother will read my sex scenes, once they're in print. She says they're "tasteful." I have no idea what that means, nor do I want to.
In one of my books, my editor noted that one of my sex scenes was physically impossible, because the protagonist would have to grow a third breast in middle of her back in order for it to work. Needless to say, that wasn't how I envisioned it. That scene took some altering to make it so that the reader and I both "saw" the same thing.
I am consciously trying to loosen up in my work, though. I turned in a book last week that has a whole chapter of sex. I know that sex is not a necessary part of every story. The book I turned in before that had romance, but not sex.
But I know that I need to stretch my muscles. Push through my aggravation and learn to do it. It doesn't come naturally, but...
...I'm starting to enjoy it.
That chapter of sex was difficult. I groused about it the whole time. But I read it back through recently and thought: "Hmm. That's not bad."
I may be improving.
And that's the thing about writing. You've gotta do what makes you uncomfortable. Push out of your comfort zone and find new territory...in the bedroom or outside of it.
Posted by Laura Bickle
Writing as Laura Bickle, I'm the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket Books and THE HALLOWED ONES for HMH Graphia. Writing as Alayna Williams, I'm the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE. More info on my urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: www.salamanderstales.com