S is for…

I’ve taken on the challenge of an A-Z during April – one post each day on a chosen theme. My theme? Books and writing, of course…

S is for Sexy Scenes

Yep, I’ve written a few. I like to think – okay I hope – that when I have used a raunchy scene that it has advanced the plot or the characters a tad. I’m not, however, comfortable writing them.

So, how does one go about writing a sexy scene? Do I set the stage with mood lighting and soft music? Maybe a few candles? Nope. I wrote some of my more “interesting” scenes in decidedly unsexy surroundings:

  • In my lunch break at work in the food hall near IKEA with screaming kids and flatpack trolleys (Baby, It’s You and Big Girls Don’t Cry)
  • On the bus during my commute (Wish You Were Here)
  • Listening to next door’s washing machine beeping because it was out of balance and needed to have the load shifted and he’d gone out for the day (I Want You Back)

Then there have been those scenes I’ve written while still in bed on a Saturday morning with hubby standing in the doorway asking if I’d like scrambled or poached eggs – or maybe an omelette – for breakfast? Hmm…

The thing is, writing a squidgy scene isn’t a whole lot more different than writing anything else. Plus, if you let your imagination go wild, it can even be kind of fun – although it helps if you pretend that it will never be read by your mother. Before I gave a copy of Wish You Were Here to my mother I seriously considered redacting entire paragraphs. (sorry Mum)

But, I digress. When it comes to writing those scenes essentially:

  • The first sex scene between your protagonists should be the longest one in the book. It’s a turning point and a huge emotional whammy – often in more ways than one.
  • It’s also primarily an emotional act rather than a physical one. Whatever it is that our characters are doing – or how they’re doing it – we want to know how they’re feeling.
  • If you can delete the sexy bits without impacting the story, they probably shouldn’t be there. It has to advance the story in some way – either through bringing your protagonists together, pushing them apart, or complicating things enough to make a situation worse before it gets better.
  • Sex is when we’re at our most raw, most needy, and most emotionally vulnerable – this should come across (no pun intended) in that first scene.
  • Stay away from the IKEA style tab A into tab B type of physical instructions. As, (I think it was) Anne Gracie said in the Trust Your Voice session at last year’s RWA Conference, sex is about more than the “docking procedure”.
  • With your attention (and blood) diverted to areas much further south than your brain, deep and meaningful or philosophical conversations can happen before or after, but absolutely not during. Speaking of which, sex is real – as is humour – so it’s ok to lighten the mood as well.

In One More Dance (yes, I have a name for Book No. 5 now) my protagonists are in their fifties and – even though it shouldn’t have – writing their scenes presented a different set of challenges.

Previously I’d written characters in their late twenties and thirties. It felt easier opening their bedroom doors than it did opening the doors on an older couple – even though it shouldn’t have. In the end, I wrote their scenes in exactly the same way as I’d written for my younger characters. Time will tell whether that was successful or not.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me…although I’m on holiday at the moment so mightn’t get around to answering or responding to all comments.

9 Replies to “S is for…”

  1. It’s been really interesting to read your thoughts on writing sex scenes. You know what, I think I could write them. They’d be so revealing though as I think you’d very much have to draw on your own experiences. I do not know how I could cope with my mother reading what i wrote! OMG! LOL! #TeamLovinLife

  2. Well I suppose writing sex scenes is a bit like filming them for a movie. After a while the embarrassment goes when you are up to Take 10. I actually just finished Baby It’s You and Wish you Were Here and loved them both and the sex scenes. I enjoy reading how authors write and really Ikea???? Who knew? Now I will be looking at people as I shop there wondering if they are authors thinking of how to write their sex scene LOL:)

  3. Take it from me (and I’m 61), I still have very satisfying sex with my partner (although we don’t rip our clothes off one another!) I agree that writing a sex scene for 50 year olds should be the same as for younger ones. We’re just not as supple and flexible as we used to be!!

  4. I love ‘getting under the covers’ (pun fully intended) as to how you write your sex scenes but I wouldn’t have expected them to be written at Ikea 😉

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