Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sex (Gasp!) Scenes

Ceee-ripes! I'm here to tell you, I have a very difficult time writing sex scenes. This is, I’m sure, because I’m a naturally conservative girl. I know that not every sex scene has to be porn, but all the same it’s not easy for me. I have to push myself a bit and I always worry that readers will think it’s too much. (No one ever has yet, which should be a clue.)

In my current novel, The Snap, there is this:

“What’s the matter?” she asked, suspicious.

“I can’t go just yet,” he said, his tone cheerful.

“Why’s that?”

He leaned in. “You’ve made me so hard, I can’t stand up. I’ll shock all the ladies present.” His teeth gleamed in the dim light.

She was shocked, no question. She sat back down with a thump, her face on fire. He made her wait a full fifteen minutes during which her face never returned to its normal color. Fifteen minutes for an erection to die down that she knew about and—presumably—caused. On the other hand, she couldn’t help thinking about it. When they finally did stand to go (or rather, he gave her the signal that she could stand), he didn’t appear to have any problems with his anatomy. He could have been faking the whole thing, making her wait because he could. Her vote went either way on that one.

Putting this on the blog is making me cringe. So imagine me sitting there in my writing group listening to the men in the group PICK THIS OUT and mention that it was a good scene, and one guy even READ IT OUT LOUD. I nearly died, I tell you. I sat there, face flaming red just like the poor girl in the excerpt above, and finally just covered my eyes.

I know this is silly, but there you have it. The psychology of that aside, I imagine that sex scenes can be difficult to write if you’re not into writing explicitly. The folks at Redlines and Deadlines have a nice post about this with some very helpful tips on writing sex scenes, like avoiding euphemisms. Good idea. I can’t stand them and every time I come across a “throbbing man rod” I want to puke. Likewise with female ones, like “love cave.” Gross! Just say the things without being all nasty about it. No one finds euphemisms hot, I tell you—because they’re all ridiculous.

Another excellent point is to make sure you play up the emotional aspect. I can’t agree more, especially in women’s fiction. Women are all about the emotional connection: we want to know that a man is desperately—and I mean absolutely soul-givingly—in love with us as we have sex. It gets our oxytocin going, and that’s heart-healthy, don’t you know. Also: no empty modifiers, like “This was super good lovin.’” That tells us nothing.

I don't know how other writers -- and readers-- feel about this issue. Feel free to chime in in the comments.


CKHB said...

I hate trying to find the balance between language that sounds too clinical (vulva) and language that sounds too stupid (va-jay-jay).

Actually, I haven't written anything explicit enough for this to be a concern yet, but I *am* trying to figure out which words to use when teaching my daughter about her own body parts. Sorry, but "vulva" sounds like saying "epidermis" instead of "skin"... I know it's correct, but I can't make myself say it without feeling like a tool.

Good scene, by the way! No, REALLY!

FictionGroupie said...

This post made me laugh. And is very timely. Yesterday I posted the first sex scene for my crit group to evaluate. I was blushing just uploading the file, lol. Hearing it read out loud would have killed me!

I'm writing a romance with the level of heat found in say a Harlequin Blaze, so it's pretty, um, naughty. Luckily, the first crit partner to read it loved it (and said she needed to go find her husband after reading it, lol), so that was a relief. But it's still embarrassing.

Thanks for sharing your scene, really liked it!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for commenting guys. Carrie, I too hate both vulva and va jay jay (which is overdone now).
Fictiongroupie, is the crit group an online one? That certainly saves some blushing.

FictionGroupie said...

Yes, it's an online crit group, so that does help. :) I may crawl under my chair if it were in person, lol.

coffeelvnmom said...

As you know, I've avoided those scenes entirely;) But I think you've done quite well with how you've approached and written it. Hats off to you. I just don't have the nerve to go that far!!! (And perfect picture for this one by the way lol)

coffeelvnmom said...

I gave you an award! Check out my blog for more details!:)

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