Dispatch 6 - Writing Sex Scenes

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My dad, my in-laws, my real estate agent, my former professors, my friends, my colleagues, former boyfriends, my neighbors, my children's teachers, the other moms, my hometown librarian, my aunt, my husband's colleagues, my students (former and future) . . . and my children (in the future).


Thank you, Josh Holloway . . . my muse :)
Yep . . . if I write sex scenes, those are the people who will read them. I'm not an erotic writer, but sex is a natural part of most romantic relationships, right? In my the second and third novels of "The Harvesting Series," and in my new Steampunk series, there is sex. In some cases, there is a lot of sex. A beta reader of my new Steampunk series told me, in a loving and joking way, that he would never look at me and my husband the same again. All this thinking about sex and writing made me ponder honesty in writing. If people can spot a fake 100 miles away, then how do people react when writing feels forced or less than truthful?

E. L. James did us all a favor. Sexy stories are fun to read, but I never thought much about "sex-backlash" for the writer. Sometimes people raise an eyebrow when I say I wrote a zombie novel. What will they think when they read all this sex?

In an essay titled "25 Humpalicious Steps for Writing Your First Sex Scene," (don't you love that title!) author Delilah Dawson writes: "If you’ve never written a sex scene before, you’re probably going to be either terrified or embarrassed." But Dawson goes on to encourage truthfulness in writing. And that is what it what writing should be: honest. Whenever I feel stuck when I write, it's because I am trying to push a story where it should not go. I am not listening to my instincts. I am not writing in a way that is truthful for the story/character. Here are a few questions I try to ask:

  • What would my character say?
  • What would my character do?
  • Who would my character do?
  • When would my character behave like this?
  • Why would my character behave like this?

One of the best writing tips I ever received regarding characterization had to do with understanding a character's motivations. Before I even start writing a novel, I plot the novel then pose the following question: "What does CHARACTER want in this novel?" I need to know what motivates everyone even before I begin writing. It helps keep the writing, and the sex or lack-thereof, honest. Be truthful! Push outside your comfort zone if you need to! Have fun! Find your muse, listen to your instincts--no matter how filthy minded they are,--and WRITE!
 
 
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