I do love a sizzling, toe curling, face flushing sex scene. I love the voyeurism of it, the tantalization, the memories it might dredge up and the ideas it might offer. I love seeing two people hit their peak, especially when it’s surrounded by lashings… of love and romance. What did you think I was going to say???
As a romance writer, I enjoy writing sex scenes. And you would think they would be fairly easy to write; the mechanics of the thing are, after all, universal. Put A into B while stimulating C and the effect will be D. Right? It’s not like trying to plug in an electrical appliance in a different country and realizing you need a different fitting. Nope, everywhere you go, this particular thing works the same.
The thing is, though, I need to be alone to write them. Other writers need a drink or two to put themselves in the right frame of mind. Some writers write them and are embarrassed with every word they put down. Some writers gain strength from writing them. Some writers, bless ’em, feel the same about writing a sex scene as they do about writing a fight scene, or a car chase, or a sweet conversation with grandma. For me, I just need to be alone.
I asked myself why this is, and the basic answer is, I end up all sweaty and breathless just from writing them, and I don’t really want my son to come across me, heaving bosom and all, and to have him say, “Why are you blushing, Mum?” I could just tell him I was writing a rollicking sex scene with a couple of Big ‘O’s at the end, but he’s thirteen and I don’t want to scar him for life.
Secondly, I tend to act out some of the action – nothing too nasty, just what a person’s hands might be doing, or if someone’s leg can go in that direction when they are laying on their stomach, things like that. I have zero interest in explaining to anyone what I’m doing when I’m doing those things! (“Mum, why are you arching your neck like that?”)
I also can’t write them in front of my partner. This one is a little more tricky to explain, but I think it’s because I feel a little like I’m cheating on him when I’m expounding on the virtues of my hero. I haven’t yet written a hero that hasn’t gone on my ‘List of Guys I Would Need A Hall Pass For’. Apart from that, I don’t want him thinking I’m describing our relationship. Or what I want or don’t want from our relationship. But sometimes my characters are more adventurous than us, or somewhat more vocal, or significantly younger and able to contort themselves into positions that if we tried them, we’d be crippled for the next three days.
And then there’s adding the other details, the non-physical ones. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, worries – all of these add to the flavor of the scene, whether I want it to be sensuous or serious or relaxed or funny or awkward – and I tend to take in many of my characters feelings as I write them. Writing a newly grieving character was one of the most grueling experiences of my life. Writing a character in the throes of ecstasy? Very far from grueling! But still disquieting. Afterward, I need a cuppa tea and a quiet moment or two of reflection before I can continue.
Does that mean writing sex scenes is difficult for me? No! Hell no!! I smile all the way through – a little, evil, sexy smile that I’m maybe pushing my boundaries a little and maybe my readers will feel the same way. A little bit naughty, a little bit sexy, a little bit sensual… you know the drill.
I’d love to hear from other writers about their quirks around writing sex scenes! Or readers – do you need to be alone if you’re reading a sex scene? Or could you quite happily read deep details of BDSM orgies while sitting next to a couple of perfect strangers on the bus?