Monday, May 10

Unavoidable Sex

I'm enjoying my WIP quite a bit. At 70,000+ words in, I know the voice of all the characters, and I'm deeply embedded in the story, so the words flow out rather easily. This is the fun part. Choosing and tying together all the different threads of the plot and characterizations was difficult, but now it has all come together and I am sort of letting creative gravity carry me to the finish. I love this part!

Except....there is one more hurdle to cross. One more Kilimanjaro sized speed bump to cross. The sex scene. I call it unavoidable for two reasons: I write romance and it is expected, and the character arc is leading there with flashing runway lights. Its gotta happen! And it has to happen in the next chapter.

Of course, because I'm a plotter, I know exactly how it will happen. The overall scene, I mean. But I don't know how IT will happen. The act itself. The dirty deed. Who's on top, when they switch, etc. This is the part I hate. My official least favorite part of being a romance writer. Having sex is spectacular, talking about it is fun, reading it is great, but writing about it can be extraordinarily painful.

Suddenly your options for description and dialogue are limited to a set number of body parts. Then it becomes a numbers game. How many times have I said kiss and lips? How many times did he stroke or caress her breast - because it can't happen too many times in a row. My old friend the thesaurus only helps so much. Tingle, quiver, shiver, thrill, chill.....same thing. No repeats! Lick, touch, slide (I'll never use fondle, because I can't stand the word - it has a very negative connotation to me), brush, lave - there aren't that many options. He's excited, she's atingle, and now what the heck happens? It can't sound too clinical, but it still needs to sound realistic, since I don't write Regency novels where things can be cloaked in euphemisms. But I still need to sneak in the romance, since of course their joining will be like none before, opening both of them to the realization of true love. That is a lot of pressure to put on the simple act of inserting Tab A into Slot B!

Please tell me I'm not the only one. That somebody else out there thinks the sex scene is one of the most difficult pieces of the writing craft. And now I'm going to dig up my sex scene music from my last book, and hope it still gets the job done this time around.


  1. Which is why I write YA :)

    I had a horrible time just writing Carmen's first kiss in the Journal Keeper. It has to be special, memorable, yada, yada. All the expectations we put on ourselves.

    I was watching a rerun of How I Met Your Mother yesterday and Robin's explaining that she's wearing boots because she didn't shave and therefore won't be tempted to have sex. Barney pipes up. "Doesn't matter. Guys just want to get on the green, they don't care if they have to go through the rough."

    That's my kind of sex talk :)

  2. oh i love writing sex may not write them well, and i find i overuse "stroke" quite a bit, but a few glasses of wine or a few jim beams always relax my brain enough to give it the green light.



  3. Writing the sex scene(s), to me, are much easier than writing the Love Scene - you know, the one where they *know* they are in love and loved in can be fun and simple and easy (figuratively speaking). When it gets down to the Making Love part, there are emotions and histories and futures involved...that's a lot of scenery to push around!

  4. Sorry, Christi!
    To me, this is one of the easist parts. I do have to go back and add emotion, but the act itself is easy stuff!

  5. I'm with you, Christi! I don't WANT the act w/o the emotion, so I don't want to write it, either, which calls for lots of angst. And a little booze.

  6. I know sex has become a "must" with romance. Yet, I've read books where there was no plot, just pages and pages of sex. Not even romantic sex, just a blow by blow description. (excuse the pun)
    I believe that when sex happens it should be done when it furthers the story, not done to replace the story.

    Too many authors forget that, it looks like you haven't. So when your characters are ready, you'll know it.

  7. Christi, I'm late seeing this, but I had to chime in my sympathy. Writing sex scenes always makes me wish I was writing erotica so I could just say what I mean and get on with it.

    I prefer almost-sex scenes. At least then I don't have to think of pleasant yet un-purple ways to say "penis" and "vagina." Most of the time...