Let’s Talk about Sex

That got your attention, right?

Sex scenes are fun to write until you realize who will be reading it.  Like your parents.  Cringeworthy. What got me thinking about this? A post on the Backspace Blog by Randy Susan Meyers. I think she is very on target about how a sex scene can add to the book and give you insight into the character’s psyche if done right. I love the reference to avoiding the format of  “insert Tab A in slot B.” Priceless. The example she uses is awesome for how a sex scene need not be a blow-by-blow description yet can evoke all the emotions involved.

In The Curse of the Radcliffe Rubies, my characters have romantic entanglements, there are some steamy make out scenes, but I faded out for the rest.

Was it a cop-out? I don’t think so. I didn’t feel the sex scenes were necessary for the story. That’s not to say that they won’t be essential in my next book. But they have to be a part of the story.

I love the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. She writes amazingly steamy, passionate, sometimes painful sex scenes.  The sex is key to the character development and the complicated relationships Anita has with everyone in her life because of who she is and what she is becoming.  I would argue every sex scene is absolutely necessary in that series.

With The Curse of the Radcliffe Rubies, however, I hesitated to go there. I tried anyway and it felt awkward. I scaled back and let the scene unfold and flow and nothing went beyond making out (onscreen anyway).  Bottom line, I felt like I was true to the characters. I also found for my characters sometimes the scene was a description of sensations, other times more about their emotional responses to it.

So tell me what do you think makes a good sex scene in a book? And what makes it feel completely unnecessary/not enjoyable as a reader?

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4 Responses to Let’s Talk about Sex

  1. berry says:

    Sex should be subtle. A in your face explicit scene is unnecessary. Left to the imagination is a far more alluring approach. I think it also depends on the writer and the time of book. I would rather not have it so blatantly in print and more left to my imagination. But that is me.

    • I think it is good to leave thing to the reader’s imagination too. I don’t enjoy when it sounds almost mechanical. I like to have the author paint the emotions and the scene without talking about his “engorged stalk” or her “sex.” That being said, it can be graphic but it should always be well written.

  2. Emma says:

    I have to say that I agree with what Berry said. Sometimes it’s just better to leave things to the reader’s imagination and not be too explicit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a well-written sex scene can add a lot to the story and give you a great insight into how a character thinks and feels, but it also has to fit into the whole concept of the book. Like you said, sometimes it can be crucial to write a sex scene because it play a key role in understanding the character better, but I also think that there are many authors out there who just write sex scenes because they feel like they had to prove something–be it to prove that they are able to write it or that they are not afraid of writing it. Anyways, sometimes it takes even more courage to not do something rather than actually doing it.

    • Well said Emma! I love your last line about how “sometimes it takes even more courage to not do something rather than actually doing it.”
      The author has to stay true to their vision of the chracters and the story and if that requires intense passionate sex scenes–that’s cool. I’m a huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton and all her sex scenes are absolutely integral to the plot (and a lot of fun to read). My next book may include a hot love scene but only because I think it will reveal more about the characters (and be fun to write). 🙂

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